Changing careers is often one of the most challenging moves one can make in the professional world. This a potentially life changing goal, and as such it needs to be carefully undertaken from beginning to end in order to be achieved. There’s a myriad of different obstacles that impede career changes, starting with a lack sufficient experience in your new target industry.
You’ll also be competing with job applicants who on the surface appear much more qualified, and as a result you’ll have to go to the great lengths to make your technical skills and job history marketable in the eyes of potential employers. Given these challenges, this transition requires copious amounts of research, networking, strategy, and sacrifices in order to be successful. The good news is, despite all these obstacles, changing careers is an entirely achievable goal, and we’ve designed a six-step guide to help you begin building a long-term plan to make this move a reality.
1. Define Your Objective
Before you begin to tailor your resume towards your new field, you need to fully define your end goals and ultimate objective. You need to be optimistic and ambitious, but you also need to keep your expectations realistic and tempered as you begin to familiarize yourself with your target industry. By clearly outlining your objective, you can develop a stronger plan of action for marketing your skills and job history and making them applicable to your new professional environment. One way that this can be done is by researching specific positions you’re interested in applying for and then identifying points of overlap between them and the skills and achievements you’ve garnered throughout your work history.
2. Prepare Yourself for the Job Search
Changing industries is something that should never be done lightly or hastily. In order to successfully alter the direction of your career, you’re going to need to make necessary preparations. This will cost both time and money, and as a result you’ll need to strategically position yourself financially beforehand to ensure that your transition is successful.
For instance, you shouldn’t sacrifice the financial stability of your current position until you’ve found a solid opportunity in your new field. You don’t want to place yourself in a beggars can’t be choosers situation due to lack of planning. The best way to look at a career change is as an investment. It might not pay dividends immediately, but by investing in yourself, and giving yourself the necessary tools to succeed, you’ll be shifting your career towards an industry that will likely pay you more, but perhaps more importantly, engage you more.
3. Reposition Your Accomplishments
When applying for jobs in your new career, you’re going to want to tailor your resume towards your new industry as much as possible. The key to maximizing the impact of your previous work history is to strategically align these older positions with the goals and objectives of your new company. For example, if you were an elementary teacher attempting to transition into a career as a web engineer, you’d want to focus on how you integrated technology into your lesson plans, managed web portals, and how you interacted with the school network more so than your teaching methodology. At the same time, it’s important to maintain a careful balance between cutting information that isn’t relevant to your career path and preserving impressive accomplishments from your previous work history.
Just because an achievement isn’t overtly relevant to your new career doesn’t mean it should automatically be removed from your resume, especially if it’s substantial enough. For instance, if you implemented new sales processes that generated $500K in revenue as an account manager, you’re going to want to include that on your document, regardless of what job you’re applying for. Demonstrating that you were competent at your previous career is still a vital part of transitioning into your new industry, so don’t be afraid to highlight past achievements to show that you can be a strong asset to the company if given the opportunity. You need to balance relevant accomplishments with achievements that are objectively and quantifiably impressive.
4. Network, Network, Network
There’s no way around it. Networking is one of the most crucial elements of a career change, and you won’t get very far if you neglect it. By engaging with working professionals in your target industry, and speaking with people employed at companies that interest you, you can gain invaluable information regarding what employers in the field are looking for and exactly what you need to do to market your skills and assets. There are many ways to go about networking, but in the age of social media, Linkedin remains the best professional tool on the market.
Having a professional Linkedin profile isn’t just a necessity for transitioning to a new industry, it’s something that employers everywhere have come to expect from job applicants, and thus it’s extremely important that your profile is carefully put together in order to succeed in the competitive job market. Unlike the resume, which concisely displays your technical skills, achievements, and work experience, the Linkedin profile is an opportunity to put a face and personality on the application sitting on your potential employer’s desk. Our company carefully tailors your resume to whatever industry specifications you need, and may go a long way in separating yourself from the pack of other applicants you’re competing with.
5. Consider Continuing Your Education
In certain cases, repackaging your skills won’t be enough to compensate for lack of experience in your target industry. For example, a marketing professional probably won’t be able to bridge the gap towards becoming an IT systems administrator based solely on their marketing skills. This is why continuing your education, whether it’s an internship, a training certification, or perhaps even pursuing another degree, is vital for a successful career change.
Acquiring certifications and taking online training courses are certainly the most expedient and cost effective methods for quickly integrating yourself into your new field, but depending on your long-term goals, you may need pursue an entirely new degree in order to meet the competitive demands of your target industry. As we’ve stated throughout this piece, transitioning into a new industry is one of the most difficult moves one can make in the professional world, and taking the necessary steps to bolster your education is one of the fundamental building blocks which will ensure that your transition is successful.
6. Consult a Career Coach
Consulting a career coach is another avenue you can explore, especially if you’re unsure of how to begin to making strides towards your new target industry. Gaining insight from a seasoned professional with knowledge of your field and the hiring process can go a long way in helping you prepare for interviews and develop realistic career goals for the future. Our company offers this service courtesy of a career coach with 32 years of work experience in domestic and international companies. Our coach’s specialty lies in his entrepreneurial experience, having hired hundreds of employees while building companies from the ground up. Like continuing your education, consulting with a career coach is another valuable resource which can determine whether or not your career change is successful.