Is it Time for a Change? Five Steps to a Successful Career Transition
So, you've begun to feel a bit restless in your professional life. Maybe you feel like you've gone as far as you can go in your current role, or perhaps another line of work has piqued your interest.
Whatever the reason, you know it's time to start planning for a change, but you're a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of such an undertaking. That's perfectly understandable -- human beings are creatures of habit, and the prospect of a major change can be intimidating.
Strategic Thinking is the Key
The good news is, it's never too late to forge a new professional path. In fact, the job search literature is chock-full of inspiring stories of people just like you who have successfully made the switch. As long as you approach the process strategically and allow yourself plenty of time to complete the transition, your career change campaign is likely to end in success.
According to Nicholas Lore, job search expert and renowned author of The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, the best way to take the anxiety out of the transition between careers is to break the process down into a series of action-oriented steps that are easier to contemplate. Here are some guidelines to help you formulate your own plan of attack.
Lay the groundwork.
Before you make the leap into career transition, spend some time analyzing the situation. Try to get a better handle on what you want out of your career. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the current job market. Based on all of these factors, is it the right time to make your move? Would the situation be more favorable in one month? Six months? A year?
Get your paperwork in order.
Block off a few days for intensive writing and editing. First, tackle your résumé and cover letter. Start from scratch if necessary, targeting every word and bullet point toward your new, improved career goal. Then, move on to some brainstorming. Make lists of easy-to-remember phrases that describe your experience and goals, draft early versions of interview responses, and compile the contact info of everyone and anyone in your address book who might be able to assist you in your transition to a new career.
Do your due diligence.
Now, it’s time to don your detective cap and do some research. Learn everything you can about the kind of position you want to apply for or the field you're interested in breaking into. Make a list of the experience, talents, and skills that you have and how they could translate into the new position. What are the buzzwords you need to know to talk intelligently about the industry? What value could you bring to the organization?
Plan your campaign.
Gather a master list of all the businesses that might have openings you'd be interested in. Commit to researching and contacting at least 3-5 establishments in your chosen field each day, and keep up this routine until you're hired. Continue to research and add new target companies to your list.
Incorporate what you learn along the way
As you begin the phase of telephone and face-to-face interviews, look at each encounter as a learning opportunity. You may not find the right role right out of the gate, especially if you are making a major career transition. Still, it's vital that you take something positive from each experience. If you flub a question in one interview, learn from it -- you're likely to be asked something similar in your next sit-down! As your knowledge and familiarity with the industry and employers' expectations gradually accumulate, you'll begin to feel more comfortable and confident. Before long, it's likely that you'll find yourself in the kind of job you've dreamed of.