By Edmund Kamugisha
If you are just joining us, you can check out the prior article about career switching here
This particular article will make sense to you if you have that burning desire to either try something else in your professional life, or if you have already made the decision to pivot into something else and are finding a challenge with making proper headway and need new practical tips to make a switch in your career.
If you aren’t feeling fulfilled in your job, and you dread the time you spend in the office, a career shift may be in your future. While the idea of starting over is exciting, it can also be daunting and challenging. You might have years of experience in your industry, but with no related experience in your new field, just getting an interview can be tough.
Start with why
If you are thinking about making a career change, ask yourself why. You know you are not happy at your current position, but think about exactly why you aren’t happy. Pin down the specifics of what dissatisfy you. You may not even need to change your entire career by making some changes to your function, role, industry or location and this could be enough to drive up satisfaction. You should also identify what is important to you in the next chapter of your career and decide on the trade-offs you’re willing to make that can help you make practical moves that will have positive impacts on your career
Broaden your view
Determine what your new passion is. What do you love to do? To hear about? To talk about? If you love music, find a job in that industry. Remember, it’s not just musicians, but others such as agents, directors, marketing and sales teams, social media gurus, business managers, event planners, etc., that are a part of the exciting music world. Explore all the jobs that work in an industry you would really enjoy and find a job you be happy to do.
Use your strengths
You have natural talents you were born with. These talents are the things you find easy to do. Maybe it’s teaching or writing. Maybe it’s designing, building, or helping people. List all your talents, including things that others compliment you on. Build your career on using these strengths as it will be easier to excel. You’ll move up faster, find better jobs and be paid a higher salary. Incorporate your talents into any position you choose to go after.
Don’t sabotage yourself
Many people prevent their own success. They find excuses, or blame others, for their own failures or mistakes instead of learning and improving from them. Their self-talk is all negative.
“I’d never get a job like that,” or “I’m not good enough,” or “Why try; it’s too hard.”
Avoid others who are “negative energy people;” people who rain on your dreams and efforts. You must avoid TOXIC dialogue – it’s poisonous to your dreams and future achievements. Instead, find supporters, new mentors, take classes, read books, listen to motivational tapes that teach effective ways to make your future and next job a real dream come true.
Consider your money-situation
Changing careers can be stressful for many reasons, but financial uncertainty is often at the top of the list. Before you make a career switch, consider your finances and decide if you can afford to start over, likely at an entry-level salary. Think about what you will gain from a career switch. What will you gain by earning less money?
“Time with loved ones? Better work-life balance?
Being aware of what you’re getting yourself into is half the battle. On a practical level though, building up a financial safety buffer never hurts as you’re trying to find your footing.”
Do an honest self-assessment.
Analyse your current skill set, training level, and accomplishments to date. Write down the aspects of the work you liked and what tasks or things you disliked. Explore different career options. Investigate new fields, industries and potential careers. Look for connections on LinkedIn and use your network to find people doing jobs you are interested in. Look at growth opportunities, salaries, benefits, education level and then determine the job title to target.
Reframe your experiences and use your transferable skills
When changing careers there are skills you can take from one job to another. You have acquired abilities from previous positions, or from classroom work, through committee work, volunteer experiences or doing community service. Some say that these may include, but are not limited to: Technical skills in your domain/ Communication – verbal and written/ Critical Thinking/ Multitasking – Time management and Organizational skills/ Teamwork – collaboration/ Creativity and Leadership. These are key skills to develop, nurture and master since they are so important to employers seeking new employees. Take the skills you have developed and honed for years, and figure out how you can use them in your new field. A career change is simply an opportunity to repackage existing skills and abilities for use in a new and exciting way.
Get new skills
With today’s technological advancement, you can often acquire new skills at a much more affordable cost. It is imperative that you study the industry you want to enter. If you have a gap in skillset then take some courses so you can more quickly enter the field and at a higher level those starting at enter-level pay.
Take advantage of your Network
Much like dating, scoring a job — in your current industry or in another one — is about getting out there. Putting yourself in networking situations will help you, one, speak to people in the industry about trends, companies hiring and current happenings. It will also allow you the opportunity to vocalize your intent to change careers.
It’s not enough to simply apply to jobs in a new industry, you must speak up for yourself and let your network know that you are actively looking for a new job and that you are taking the steps (i.e. Taking classes, learning new skills, rebranding yourself, etc) to position yourself for the change.
A big no-no when networking is coming right out and asking someone you’ve just met for a job. Sure you may be eager, but nurture the relationship a bit before launching into asks. While speaking directly is important in business, being this direct is downright presumptuous and rude. When networking, it’s risky to ask for a job from a new acquaintance. It’s just as risky to request a reference, especially if you’ve just met the person. Networking should yield a mutually beneficial relationship, not an Aladdin and the genie arrangement. Your wish is not their command.
A great piece of advice could be not only looking specifically to cultivate your network, but trying to find ways to meet more people organically through your interests outside of work. Join a running group or start talking to the regulars at your gym sessions. Volunteer or attend a fundraising event in your community. The point isn’t to talk work — it’s just to expand the group of people you know.
Consider Informational Interviews
As you’re choosing your new career, and applying for new jobs in your chosen field, consider setting up a few informational interviews with people who are doing what you’d one day like to do. They can give you solid advice on how to enter the field and impress in an interview, which is invaluable information to someone completely new to the industry. The best way to get a meeting with decision makers is to ask for informational meetings with them. Rather than the ‘hard sell’ of ‘I’m looking for a job, do you know of anything,’ this informational meeting takes the ‘soft-sell’ approach of asking for information and for them to share their story so you gain advice for your job search and career journey. You should not be nervous to ask for a face-to-face, as people who are happy in their work generally love to talk about what made them successful. So if you reach out to a decision maker and ask for informational meetings, it is only a matter of time before someone says they will accept to meet you.
Think about freelancing
Have you considered going freelance? If not, why not? If you’re struggling with your current company, feel that you’re ideas aren’t being listened to, why not make the change so that you are in the driving seat. It can be daunting – and it’s no small decision – but more and more people are realising that working for themselves brings about the work / life balance they’ve always dreamed of with a job that incorporates what they enjoy doing most in life. With the right skills, contacts and experience you can have a job that is different every day, meet new people, have fresh challenges, earn a decent wage and feel the job satisfaction that has eluded you for so long.
Too many of us never ask ourselves the tough questions. Some, if not most of us do not acknowledge that being happy, successful and enjoying a satisfying career are all possible. Instead, we suffer and try to hide our depression. Let it be known that you and you are alone are responsible for creating your own future.
What if you knew then what you know now?
What would change?
What if you could write a whole new life for yourself?
Would you put in the effort to change?
So as you finalize this article, ask yourself this life-shaping question:
What exactly are you going to do with the rest of your life?
There has never been a better time than right now (in a global pandemic infused lockdown) to change the course of your life and in many cases, could mean changing your career. You may have to lead others through a conversation to help them understand why you are making the change.
Finally, remember that the key to creating successful relationships is showing others how you can be an asset to them.
Edmund is the Principal Partner at BLEGSCOPE and recommends you wash your hands regularly and maintain social distancing in this fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.