Career changes. Even in a great labor market, the prospect of ditching a current career and pursuing a passion can be daunting. In the current market, things are even more tricky. More and more, though, employees are embracing change. According to a recent study, 22% of workers have considered a career change since the start of the pandemic. And it isn't any wonder. There was the stress of living through an uncertain time, coupled with copious mid-COVID layoffs, economic uncertainty--workers had good reason to re-examine how they were spending the majority of their time. But switching up a career can be hard. Our experience pigeonholes all of us unless we can get creative with how we position that experience to the new roles we want.
So, whether you're feeling stuck in your current job or just ready for a new challenge, found.Consulting is here to help. Here's our top 6 tips to help you make the career change you've been daydreaming about.
1. Know thyself
First and foremost, you need to take a good look at yourself and gain an understanding not only of your passions but what your true strengths, weaknesses, and skills are. Ask coworkers. Inquire with former bosses. Dig in with friends. What makes you successful? What are you really, really good at? Perhaps you're a wizard at developing processes but shy away from conflict. Maybe your knack for interpersonal communication made you the go-to mediator but your lack of organization meant you overlooked the tiny details.
Whatever it is, once you have a clear understanding of where you add value and what you want out of your career, you'll be better equipped to not only identify the right path, but be prepared to position yourself.
2. Do your research
Once you've identified the direction you want to go in, it's time to do your homework. Research the industry, companies, and job titles that align with your interests and, more importantly, your skills. Begin to think about how your past experience translates to your desired career. Don't be afraid to think outside the box, either. Think back to special projects you've worked on or even responsibilities you took on that fell outside the purview of your "normal" role and how those might align.
In addition, follow relevant social media accounts to learn the ins and outs of your new profession and to stay on top of relevant issues and updates, attend networking events, and reach out to professionals in the field to gain insights into what it's really like to work in that area.
3. Build your skills
Now that you have a target squarely in sight, it's time to upskill. Since you've already done the work of identifying the skills and experience needed for your desired role and where there's overlap with what you've already done, you can start the important work of acquiring new skills. This could mean taking courses, volunteering, or finding a part-time job or internship in your target industry. Which leads us to our next tip...
4. Be realistic
Finding a new role even within your current profession can take time, let alone starting over fresh. It's important to remain realistic about the timeline of securing your next position and also realistic about expectations. If you're currently a VP of Marketing looking to pivot into tech, you can't expect your first role to be VP of Software Engineering. Oftentimes, making a big career transition means taking a step backward both in title and in compensation. Successfully navigating a career 180 means getting a foot in the door to gain experience before leveling up. Take some time to think about what's realistic financially before taking the leap and make sure you have plenty of cushion for potential differences in budget.
5. Network, network, network
"It's not what you know, it's who you know" still rings true. Start building a professional network in your target industry by attending events, joining online groups, and reaching out to professionals for short informational interviews (pro-tip: It's always an appreciated gesture to offer someone a virtual coffee via a digital gift card). Whether it's LinkedIn, Slack, Reddit, or a professional organization, there are online groups aplenty for just about every profession out there. Great networking and remaining an active participant in online communities will not only provide valuable insights and connections in your new field, but can also lead to job opportunities.
6. Embrace the journey
Finally, remember that changing careers is a journey. It's okay if it takes time. And there are sure to be bumps along the way. Embrace the ample learning opportunities, stay positive, and keep moving forward. Most importantly, don't give up on your dream! We promise that it can be done!
Ready to make a career change? Get out there and rock your new career path like the badass you are!
Still feeling a little lost? Perhaps you could benefit from career coaching or resume services. Please reach out. If we can't help, we have a great network of amazing professionals who can.