What happens if you’ve been working in an industry for a length of time but are drawn to switch careers? In the 21st century, lives no longer follow a linear trajectory. Rapid changes in every industry brought about by the rise in automation suggest that many traditional careers are struggling to remain relevant.
Moreover, how old were we when we chose our majors in college? Should a decision made in our early 20s determine the course of our lives? Today’s workforce needs to be increasingly agile and dynamic. If you’re considering a career change, you are not alone, and it isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But it takes time and planning.
Here are 6 things you can do to increase your chances of getting hired when you change track:
1. Build an Expertise in Your New Field
Every industry has its own language; speak the lingo and you increase your chances of being seen as a viable candidate. Most probably, you cannot change career overnight. During the time the idea is percolating in your mind, you should be learning as much as possible about your new field. Do not just learn the industry terms but make an effort to get the real scoop on where your new industry is heading.
Network the hell out of it. I know it seems discouraging that 95% of the contacts we make don’t necessarily result in any leads. But network is a broad term. One thing you do when you network is to befriend people in your new field and pay attention to how they talk about it. Build a network of contacts in your new field and familiarize yourself with the career trajectories of those who are in your new chosen field.
3. Link Your Relevant Skills to the Skills Required in Your New Career
Skills, skills, skills… You should have at your fingertips the new skills required in your new chosen career. Consider consulting a good career counselor to figure out how you can market your existing skills to suit the new market. Claim the skills you already have; don’t dismiss them as irrelevant (instead, rebrand them). And do invest in courses if your new career calls for some essential skills that you do not yet possess. Remember that fundamentally, your future employer is most concerned that you do have the skills required to get the job done.
4. Think At Least 5-10 Years Down The Road
Today, you might think that you can make a pretty good living from participating in the sharing economy and becoming a full-time Uber driver. But what happens when drones and driverless cars take over the road? You might think becoming a mobile app developer is the way to go, but how will the Internet of Things change mobile technology? You can’t account for every change in the future, but if you’re going to take the calculated risk and switch fields, do your research with a long future in mind! (Also read “Traditional Workplace vs. Startup Culture”.)
5. Offer Your Services For Free (For The Time Being)
Internships and work trial programs are a great opportunity for those trying to break into a new career. You might think that you’d be competing with children, but if you’ve been on the workforce for a good while, you will bring qualities and skills that employers cannot necessarily find in younger interns (think of the movie The Intern!). Reducing costs will be the bottom line for many companies today, so offering your services for free to start with might work out in your favor. During that time, do prove yourself.
6. Work On Your Willpower.
Breaking into a new field is not easy. You will be tested to the max; you will suffer from self-doubt; some days everything will feel within reach, other days, you will feel stuck. So above all, if you’re going to do this and do it well, work on your willpower. Imagine a kind of German-engineered, 21st-century willpower constructed of a material tougher than steel (because you might need it!).
Changing careers isn’t necessarily going to be a piece of cake. If you are truly committed, I suggest that you really give yourself enough time to do thorough research. I suggest that you save some money because you might take a paycut at the beginning. I even conservatively suggest that you maintain ties with your old industry. But just because it can be challenging doesn’t mean that it is impossible. A career change can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life.
Are you considering a career change or have you successfully transitioned into a new career? Share your experiences with us below!
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