How To Change Careers

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Careers can and should be rewarding, dynamic and fulfilling. They’re a source of identity, motivation and income. But what do you do when your job becomes its own special prison?

If you hate your job, but you’ve sunk ten or more years into it, and you have a family to support, it’s easy to become complacent and let yourself be stuck. But down that road comes resentment, loss of fulfillment, health, and dissatisfaction. Your job will feel like a too-tight suit, constricting you.

At the same time, there are few things in life more terrifying than changing careers. Others will call it professional-suicide, especially in today’s economy, when many people consider themselves lucky to even have a job.

And in our society, we often conflate our identity with what we do. If you’re not a district manager, than you’re nobody.

But that’s wrong. We’re not our jobs, and even if we were, we’re not our job titles. We’re shifting, changing people who have tremendous skills and abilities, and we can flourish anywhere we choose. It just takes planning, know-how and a careful step forward.

Know What You Want

I’m not going to lie to you – you’re in for a rough road. The times aren’t on your side. When it comes to finding a job, we’re living in one of the toughest recessions in the past sixty years. These days, an employer will post a position with 15 vacancies, and they’ll get a million applicants.

I don’t want to discourage you, though. I know you’re resourceful, talented and a powerhouse in your own right. But you’re going to need to be suitably prepared. And part of that is knowing exactly what it is you want out of this career switch.

Lynn Taylor, of Tame Your Tot, writes, “What are your gifts and strengths? Is there something you would like to pursue but have not been able to until now? Do you need to build your portfolio?”

Here are some steps to consider:

  • Know what the new career is about.
  • Know what you can offer.
  • Know what skills you need and what certificates you need, if any.
  • Talk to people in the industry and get a feel for what positions are needed.
  • Know what people in this position generally paid.
  • Know who you will be working with and working for. 
  • Have a plan of who to contact and how.
  • Know what you will need to send in your application (CV, portfolio, spec work, samples, recommendations, experience, etc.)
  • Know why it is that you want this new career.
  • Know what your back-up plan is

You can take these steps slowly. No one is forcing you to quit your job today. Do your research and have an action plan.

Be Afraid, But Don’t Let It Stop You

This will be probably be terrifying. The fear of failure will always be lurking around you. The trick is to know that you can push through it. Dorothy Tannahill-Moran, of Career Rocketeer, writes, “Being in love with your career is important because it is such a huge part of our life. Don’t let fear keep you from finding a great career. Fear can often immobilize us even on important things like making a career change. You need to know you will have the fear, at least to some degree, and the best way to push through it is with action and insight.”

Know What You’re Going To Do

Tannahill-Moran also recommends making a schedule and asking someone to keep you accountable for it. If you’ve ever owned your own business, you know how important this step is. The fear of failure makes us procrastinate, so a schedule is good stuff.

If you need to collect certificates or licenses, as anyone who’s worked in the tech industry knows, schedule those classes. Otherwise, get yourself out there. Send out CVs, attend industry meetings, meet people with similar aspirations. Work on making your CV and portfolio better than ever. Make a deadline for yourself to submit at least a certain number of CVs by a certain date. The most important thing in the world is to simply take the first step and get the ball rolling.

You’re also going to have to stick with it. Rejection is a part of the process. These days,.something like 60% of new graduates are unable to find work in their field within the first few years of post-graduation. Depending on the industry, you might even have an even harder time. But remember…

You Can Do This

A slow start is to be expected — Stick to it, and you’ll end up happier, more satisfied, and living life more fully than you ever did in the job you hated.

 

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