You’ve thought it through, and you’ve decided to take the leap and make a career change, but what now? Here’s a guide to get you going…
As soon as grocery stores start putting up their Christmas decorations (October? Really, shops?) I find myself contemplating how successful the past year has been.
If you’re the same, a lot of your contemplation probably has to do with how successful your year has been career-wise, and you might even find yourself questioning whether it’s time to finally take the leap and change your job.
So, you’ve thought it through, and listed all the pros and cons, and you know why you want to move, but what now? How do you actually make the change?
Here’s a guide:
1. Decide what’s next
If the many memes popping up on your Facebook and Twitter timelines on Monday mornings (#mondaymotivation!) are to be believed, then you should be climbing the career ladder towards a big pot full of whatever it is you’re passionate about.
Don’t be fooled, however, it has been proven scientifically that people who work in areas that resonate with their interests – or, to use the buzzword, their “passions” – statistically have a lower chance to be fulfilled in their career on the long term than those who try to incorporate skills they already possess or have used in the context of their career before. The trick is to use these skills in creative new ways.
So, considering the experience you have built up already, and considering why you want to leave your current job, what is it that you’d rather do now?
2. Your skills and abilities
Now comes the time for active planning. Once you know what new career you’re diving into, you need to make sure you have all the “equipment” to handle the demands of the new job.
If you feel you need to enhance what you offer, the internet provides a myriad of options to upskill and expand your field of expertise. Make sure you are qualified for the positions you are planning to apply for, and you will be able to walk into – and get – interviews confidently.
Set up a timeline to track your progress and motivate you to get things done. Set a deadline for quitting your current job – and stick to it.
3. Your brand
When it comes to applying for jobs, how you look on paper is very important, because it’s the first impression potential employers have of you, and it will make or break your chances of getting an interview. Your professional brand comes into play here – this is what makes it clear that you are the right person for a specific position.
You have to tailor your CV, your cover letter, and all your professional online resumes, like the one on LinkedIn, to fit the profile of someone in the field you’re applying for, especially if you’re looking to move into a field different from the one you’re currently working in.
Do this by mentioning and expanding on why the skills you’ve used before, and the ones that are newly acquired, fit perfectly into what you are planning to do next.
4. Network it, baby
There’s a lot to say for networking. Finding the perfect job is a lot easier when you know someone in the field. Talking to people who are already doing what you’d like to do will also give you a good idea of what it is that you’re planning to get yourself into, and whether this new prospect will be right for you.
Volunteer and shadow, and you’ll soon know if the new endeavour is something you’d really like to do. It might also help you to build up a contact base in that specific field, which, in turn, might help in your application later.
5. The job hunt
It’s a risky move to only start looking for a new job when you’ve already quit your job. More often than not, it is a time-consuming process, and your chances of finding a new job that appeals to you are slim, albeit not impossible. Play it safe and do your research.
They don’t call it “job hunting” for nothing – you have to track and stalk positions to kill it eventually, and this doesn’t happen quickly, but it does help when you have done some preparation before embarking on the hunt.
Considering it’s where you spend most of your time, it isn’t unfair to want to enjoy what you do for a living. If you’ve been thinking about making a change for a while, the only thing that is really holding you back, is you.
Make the decision, but be prepared and responsible. This is also your livelihood, after all.