Adapting to a career change can be a difficult proposition. For many people, their choice of career is bound up in their sense of self-worth. Even when a career change is overwhelmingly positive, it can be challenging to navigate changing life conditions.
Together with adapting to a career change, people need to learn to market themselves in their new careers. Marketing yourself can be as simple as changing your resume or CV to better reflect your new career aspirations. Understanding how the job market works can go a long way toward encouraging positive career changes.
Erick McFerran explores 6 ways in which people who change their careers can learn to adapt to their new circumstances, and in which they can find a blueprint for success by marketing themselves properly.
1. Start with Your Motivations
Before seriously considering changing your career, you should sit down and determine exactly why you are making this decision. Even if you know that you have outgrown your job or that you simply hate it, you may not be making the best decision by changing careers. Perhaps you would be better served by taking another job in the same career with a different company.
You should answer these three questions in your self-reflection: What are the risks or downsides? Will this career change improve my life? Why do I really want to change careers?
This self-reflection will enable you to build a base from which to work. You may discover that you have concrete reasons for switching careers.
You should be very aware of the possible risks of changing careers. You may experience a pay cut or less job security. You may also need to spend money on costly retraining courses or a college degree. When you lay out your risks, benefits, and the advantages and disadvantages of changing careers, you should have a better idea of whether you should take the plunge.
2. Define Your New Career
Get a handle on your prospective new career, doing research on all aspects of the new job. Determine whether you have any “career capital” that you can use when you switch professions. This means that you will be able to build on any gains you have made during your course of employment. If you have no “career capital,” it is like throwing everything out and starting over from an entry-level position. This may be what some people want, but it is inherently risky.
3. Determine a Job Path and Figure the Costs
Next, it is smart to determine a path you can take toward your new career. Quitting your job and expecting another job to fall into your lap is foolhardy at best and disastrous at worst. It is wise to keep your old job while you are in the process of career exploration.
Figure out what skills you will need for your new career, and make a concrete plan to obtain these skills. You may find that all you need are a few additional computer classes, but you may have to obtain industry certification, as in teaching or real estate.
It is also a good idea to consider the additional costs of changing careers. Will your childcare needs change? If you are taking a pay cut, will your spouse’s income be enough to fill in the gap, or will you have to take a significant hit to your quality of life? Sometimes, people decide that taking these risks is not worth it.
4. Make a Plan
When you are considering changing careers, you may find yourself lost and adrift. You can cut down on this uncertainty by making a concrete plan for every step of your career change. First, begin with your end goals in mind. Decide what your ideal timeline toward reaching your primary goal should be.
Working backward, put your goals in order. Give yourself a realistic amount of time to complete any training or preparation you may need before you change careers. It is a good idea to make yourself a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks you need to accomplish to stay on track. If you go in without a plan, you will be risking your career.
Monitor your progress by using an Excel spreadsheet or another note-taking application. This will bring you a feeling of satisfaction when you see your goals lining up in order.
5. Change Your Marketing
Your professional brand will have to change in these circumstances. You will have a different audience for your skills, and you will need to do some market research to find out how you can promote yourself within your new business community.
Coordinate your social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as any business Facebook or Instagram pages that you may own. You will want to find out where other professionals in your new career promote themselves and make your presence just as prominent as your competitors.
Changing your resume is crucial. Your resume or CV is the way in which most prospective employers will get to know you. While you do need to give some coverage to the career you followed recently, you will need to make sure that your information is focused on your new career. Otherwise, your job applications may seem that they are coming out of left field.
6. Network Wisely
Another important facet of personal branding is mobilizing your personal connections. Your most trusted personal contacts can be a big help in determining the success of your new career. If you don’t have good relationships with your professional contacts, you may find that changing careers is impossible. Don’t discount the contributions of any member of your personal or professional network.
Rewriting Your Story
It is exciting to begin your first steps down a new career path. If you keep these tips from Erick McFerran in mind, you will be able to create a new destiny for yourself while minimizing your professional and financial risks.