Want to change careers? You are not alone. According to a new national survey conduct by the University of Phoenix School of Business, almost 60 percent of all U.S. working adults want to change careers, but 40 percent have zero idea which new career to pursue. Experts tell you how to.
Step 1: Figure out what industry you want to be in. This will take some research and soul searching. Think about your passions and interests. Also, find an industry that matches your professional ambitions. But before plunging in hunting for jobs, delve deeper into the industry–what type of jobs would match your skillset, what kinds of jobs would you enjoy doing but need to obtain the skillsets, etc?
Step 2: Connect with people in that industry. “Reach out to new contacts via a professional resource (LinkedIn, a business meet-up, career fair) and talk with those in a profession you are interested in,” suggests certified career coach Kathy Brunner.
Step 3: Get proper training. “Start taking some online classes and/or learning some essential tools to move into that career,” says Brunner.
Step 4: Seek outside guidance. “Work with a career coach to identify all the areas of opportunity available which address the particular interest or passion someone has,” notes Brunner.
Step 5: Get some experience. “In some cases, there may be an opportunity to volunteer at or shadow someone in a field that looks appealing to the person needing a career change,” suggests Brunner.
Step 6: Be ready for challenges. “I believe there are four major challenges people face when making a career change. These are Mindset, Skillset, Time Management and Ability to Start as a Novice,” says Brunner.
She explains, “One challenge is mindset because changing careers often means thinking out of the box. Some individuals are so entrenched in thinking they are ‘just a teacher’ or ‘just an accountant’ that they can’t see themselves in another role or they believe their desire to change professions means they were a ‘failure’ at their career and they take that mindset into a new venue. Anyone who doesn’t really see themselves actively working in a field will have a hard time transitioning to that arena until their mindset lets go of preconceived notions.”
Another challenge would be that you lack the proper skill set for the new industry. And time management can be a challenge, because as Brunner explains, “Many people who are looking to switch careers are actively trying to do so while being employed, often full time, in another career. Without learning specific time management skills to balance work/life and a new career they can easily feel they aren’t able to move into another career successfully. In addition, while actively pursuing a new career option, most people still need to earn an income so they need to be conscientious about not short-changing their current employer in order to pursue their other options.”
In a new industry, you will have to be willing to start at the bottom–to be a novice again– and work your way up, which explains Brunner “often poses a great deal of difficulty with those who have had significant responsibilities in leadership or management roles. Learning new skills, a new protocol, finding their way around a new company culture and developing a sense of belonging can be a humbling experience even for someone who wants to begin a career in a new field. Often, finding a mentor in that field reduces the time necessary to get up to speed.”
Step 7: Remember, it probably won’t be easy. “Change is hard! Even if it is change you want, sometimes when you get what you want, you can feel overwhelmed. Make sure you have a good support system for the times you want to throw in the towel. And, be willing to be ‘caught learning’, be willing to fail, be willing not to be the expert in the room,” says Mo Cleary, certified professional co-active coach.
Step 8: Be ready for rejection. “Employers are hesitant to hire you because you do not have relevant work experience which leads to spending more money and time on training you,” Neil Bondre, founder, the Interview Professional. “Employers are also hesitant that you will jump ship if your expectations are not met similarly to your past industry. You are competing with candidates who have experience in the field so you need to highly differentiate yourself which is often difficult for candidates to do.”
Step 9: If you have readied yourself for a career shift, then make your move. “Some people clearly know they need to shift–they know they hate their work and are desperate to change. But one of the most important signs is when you have a persistent sense that something is missing–often you can’t put your finger on what is wrong exactly, you just know that you are frustrated and unfulfilled and often have a low-level dread of going into work. That is a sign that you are not using your strongest aptitudes,” says career specialist Jenny Larsen, founder of Tulsa, OK-based career coaching practice 2:10 Consulting.
Step 10: Enjoy your new career.