How to Navigate a Career Change

Are you thinking about starting a new career from scratch, or pivoting into a new discipline or industry? You’re not alone. Every day, millions of professionals make the leap and decide to pursue a different career path. It’s also worth noting that the events of this past year have left many reconsidering their former career choices, whether that's due to layoffs and furloughs, a fading industry, or the desire to opt into a more highly sought after role in this ever-evolving job market. Whatever your reason, if you’ve been in your designated field for a few years or even a few decades, it can be daunting to wipe the slate clean. It may feel as though you’re abandoning your familiar network, routine, and even your current salary level. The first step to making the change is to accept that while it may not be easy - it is an exciting opportunity to hone in on your skills and explore new passions. It goes without saying that thorough planning is essential to a successful career transition, and having guidance from recruiting advisers, like those at Career Group Companies, will only make the transition easier. We advise making a plan, but also having a backup plan in case Plan A doesn’t work out. Before you dive in: make a list of reasons why you want to leave your current field, and consult that list whenever you need a friendly reminder.

Explore Your Options

It’s probably best to think about what you want to do before you leave your current job. This will provide you with the necessary time and flexibility to explore your options. If you’re looking for work or if you’ve been laid off due to COVID-19, it’s not considered “settling” to take a less than perfect job in the interim. While it may not be your dream job, having a reliable income will allow you to continue exploring and working toward your long-term goals on the side. You can also consider temporary work or part time opportunities to find something that works for you. As you’re thinking toward the future: do you have an idea of a career you might be better suited for? If you know of anyone in the field, reach out and ask their advice. What are the best things about the job? The worst things? What qualities and skills will you need in order to be successful? Next, test the waters. If there’s a field you want to transition into, do your research. You might need to take some classes, put yourself out there to start networking, or seek out an internship before you can find out if it’s a good fit. If it’s not, don’t panic. Sometimes figuring out what you want to do begins with deciding what you don’t want to do.

Develop a Strategy

Once you have an idea of the career that is right for you, it’s time to get serious about developing a plan. How will you explain your career change to potential interviewers? How will you demonstrate that your skills from your previous job apply to this new position? Are there any skills that you’re still lacking that you will need in order to be a qualified candidate? Take the time to make a list of realistic short-term and long-term goals for yourself. Figure out what you need to do to achieve those goals. If you need to leave your current job in order to dedicate enough time and energy to pursue this path, make sure you have a financial strategy for that as well. Calculate how much money you will need to save, how to keep your current costs down, and how much time this will actually buy you to find a job in your desired field.

Make it Happen

Sounds easy enough, right? Here comes the important part: you’ve put a strategy in place, and now you have to execute it. Take on the extra work. Sign up for classes to build on those skills you’re lacking. There are incredible courses and certification programs out there in nearly every industry, and many of them can be completed remotely or on your own schedule, so make sure to do some research. You will be competing with candidates that have more relevant experience, and most likely, a background that is more directly related to the field, so don’t give potential employers any reason to look you over. That means putting in extra hours after work, developing your portfolio on the weekends, and networking with other professionals whenever you can. While a plan is necessary, you will also need to be flexible. Be ready to re-evaluate your strategy and make the necessary changes to be successful in your pursuit.

Prepare for the Long Haul

Part of accepting the unknown also applies to your ideal timeline. Typically, a career transition can take around 18 months. It takes commitment to see it through, so balance your realistic expectations with some healthy optimism now and then. When you feel discouraged, remember the reasons that made you so excited to make this change in the first place. (Remember when we mentioned making a list to refer back to when you need a friendly reminder? This is that time.) The beauty is: the job market is constantly evolving and the smart job seeker knows when to evolve with it. The excitement you feel over the prospect of a new career is worth holding on to, because even though change is scary, it can also be inspiring. Plus, pulling it off will show future employers that you’re willing and able to take risks, you’re not afraid of hard work, you’re diligent and focused, and you know what you want. --We believe in you! Take the leap. And when you’re ready to search for new opportunities, don’t forget to polish your resume and update your LinkedIn profile.

Career Group Companies

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Founded in 1981 by Susan Levine, Career Group Companies was created to set a higher standard for recruiting. For over four decades, we’ve partnered with our valued candidates and clients to cultivate perfect career matches for administrative, creative, fashion, events, and executive professionals at top companies nationwide.

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