Changing career isn’t unusual; in fact, according to career change statistics, the average employee switches their career between five and seven times before retirement. Whether you want a new challenge or your personal situation has taken a change of direction, it can be scary facing a career change when you have no idea where to begin. We’ve got you covered; here’s our advice on how to easily and smoothly transition into a new career:
Before you even begin planning the how, you need to consider the why. What has sparked this career change motivation? Is it just that it’s a new year? Or have you been thinking about it for a while and the time just feels right? Maybe a change in your personal life has sparked the need for change? Whatever your reasons, they need to be solid as you’ll use them to keep yourself motivated throughout the career change process. It’s going to take dedication and commitment to make it happen, so you need to be in the right frame of mind and have the motivation to go through with it.
If your reasons for changing career are to escape a role that you hate, it may not be the best move. Your reasons for change should be positive, as no new employer will want to hear the reason you want the job is because you hate your old one! It could also result in jumping from one job that makes you unhappy to another in the long run; be sure you’re choosing a career that ticks the right boxes and isn’t just a quick, easy fix to help you get out of your current role.
In the modern day, formal written applications aren’t the way roles are filled in the majority of cases. As building a professional network both online and offline has become the norm, employers are valuing peer recommendations and personal interactions with candidates in many cases over experience or qualification for the role.
If you’re entering a sector that is completely new to you, having a lack of experience doesn’t have to hold you back. Start attending networking events and use online networking platforms such as LinkedIn to put yourself in front of the key stakeholders in the companies you want to work for.
A good place to start is using LinkedIn to reach out to professionals in the sector who have held or currently hold the level of role you’re aiming for. These peers can offer you valuable insight into what the industry is like and what employers might be looking for when it comes to filling a similar role to their own. Ask them for a phone call or even better, invite them for coffee and meet them in person – it could turn out to be a valuable contact who can put you in touch with the right people.
In certain careers, such as journalism, if you want to get a foot in the door with the big national publications you’ve got to be willing to do some work for free. It builds your portfolio and helps you get yourself in front of the right people who, when the time comes, could kickstart your career.
It also shows a passion for the work that is attractive to employers and means they can see what you’re capable of before giving you a job when you have no experience; if you do a great job you’re likely to end up working for them in a paid position!
Just because you don’t have experience in the sector yet, doesn’t mean the skills and experience gained from your previous work history isn’t transferable. Be sure to make a big deal out of these on your CV or application. While you may not want to draw attention to your lack of experience in the sector, if you spin it the right way it could actually be an advantage, as your other industry experience might bring something to the table that other candidates don’t.
It is still important to make it clear that you are changing career when you apply for roles in a new industry. Write a short profile that explains why you’re motivated to switch and what about this industry attracts you. Place this at the top of your CV and also refer to it in your covering letter so it’s clear from the start.
We don’t need to tell you that really, preparing for interviews is an obvious one, but when you’re going into a new sector you’ve got some extra work to do in order to compete with people already in the industry.
Make sure you’ve thoroughly researched the company, what their business objectives are and their culture, plans for the future, etc. And also extend your research to the wider sector, with information on competitors and their partnering companies, the big players and the rising stars of the industry all showing that you’re up to speed with what’s happening in the sector you want to be a part of.
However long it might take, don’t lose hope that you will make it. A career change can be a long process and it takes extra effort to not only learn about a new company but a whole new sector. But as long as your reasons for doing it are right, the change will happen and it will be the best thing for you.