Changing careers is not an easy endeavor because you will rarely meet all the must-have requirements to do so. Switching industries as part of changing careers is even more challenging. Here are some specific strategies that will assist you in transitioning careers and/or industries.
First, changing careers takes resilience and vigor. To be successful, you need to develop goals and specific objectives, and plan how you will complete your goals.
Once you have chosen a new career direction, do some analysis and networking to determine the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) you will need to qualify for jobs that interest you. You will also need to showcase your transferable skill sets. If you lack key credentials, consider volunteering or enrolling in a certificate or degree program to gain new skills and credentials as a way of increasing your marketability.
Next, hire a certified experienced resume writer / employment coach to help you highlight your relevant transferable skills. Craft a customized cover letter and resume and update your LinkedIn profile to display your new skills and career goal. Explain why you are changing careers in your cover letter and state how your background is an asset. Brush up on interviewing skills and your elevator pitch.
Here is a four step process that I am using to change career paths:
Step One: Face your fears and confront your attitude towards change.
Fear can be the biggest factor that can stand between dreams and action. When making a change, it is normal to be a little scared but do not let your concerns slow you down. As the Nike commercial says, “Just do it.” Action leads to action which can lead to success. When you feel good about yourself, others will sense your net worth. Most people do not succeed the first time out. It takes hard work and a few bumps along the road. Consider this:
- Michael Jordan is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. And yet, he was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skill.
- Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest and most successful businessmen, was rejected by Harvard University.
- Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Empire, is a high school dropout.
Step Two: Set realistic goals.
Setting realistic goals is paramount. By setting goals you can work toward specific objectives, measure your success, and achieve victory. Consider the following questions:
- What is your long-term career goal?
- What are short-term activities to reach this goal?
As legendary Miami Dolphins coach, Don Shula, said: “Fail to plan – plan to fail.”
Step Three: Create stepping stones.
Developing a direction for your career is important both before you begin your employment exploration and after you have secured a position. By setting a plan in motion you will be working towards specific objectives and you will improve your self-confidence. Self-examination is another important step in the employment search process. Starting the next career chapter armed with specific strengths, interests and expectations will enhance your motivation and your chances of success. Join a professional organization, attend meetings regularly, and set a goal to meet several new contacts each week. Search LinkedIn for an internship in your new career field, as I did with The Lindenberger Group, do job shadowing, or volunteer. Review trade and professional publications, association newsletters, job hotlines, public employment-service job banks, on-line bulletin boards and career sites.
Step Four: Stay focused on your goals.
The first steps of your new employment search involve self-exploration, setting goals, and deciding on a strategy for reaching each goal. As you embrace your new career path, it is imperative that you remain focused on specific positions and types of organizations that you would like to work for. Once you have a definitive plan of action, built your skills and knowledge, and started the networking process, it is time to obtain job interviews. When it comes to interviewing; practice, practice, practice. As my former grade school guidance, counselor, Diane Cozzo, told me, Michael Jordan said: “You cannot hire anyone to practice for you.”
Go out there and make your dreams a reality.