Random Observation/Comment #347: Careers are rarely cookie cut, and if they are, I don’t think the person is taking enough calculated risks.
Given you’ve answered all the questions from part 1 of this career counseling session, you should have a general notion about which industry you’d like to work for and which strengths/transferable skills you have to offer in this new industry. Here are some tangible next steps that could get your foot in the door and prep you for the career move:
- Expand your network. Speak with others that are in this industry to understand a possible change in work environment or skillset. Get to know their pros and cons, and make sure you’re not just switching over because the grass is greener on the other side.
- Look for someone in your network that has your dream position. Befriend these people and speak with them as mentors or sponsors about their career paths. Ask specifically about the new skills that were picked up along the way and which key groups they joined to reach their position. This will take patience, but having a direction and some milestones is better than aimlessly wandering.
- Look for sponsors who can speak on your behalf and help you make connections. When you have a good mentor, put them on your “executive board.” This board should be your subject matter experts and mentors that you admire for different aspects of life. Have someone you can go to for tech innovations, consulting, or political strategies. This is true even for your personal life – make sure you know who you can trust and rely on.
- Understand your career paths’ option expiration dates by means of optional value. As you get older, options start to narrow on your career path unless you take certain actions (exams or learn new skills). Be aware of these stepping stones in order to stay on par with your peers in the industry. Most likely, you’ll need to learn new things before you’ll be moving careers laterally or vertically.
- Write down all the projects you did from your work. Include: Processes followed, software used, specific business expertise, and measurable results/deliverables.
- Use this to fix your resume. Keep things functional and focus on measurable results. Do not make it sound like a “roles and responsibilities” job form. Instead, write the results of your role and highlight its effect on the business. Also, make sure your resume tells a story about yourself and you have those 30 seconds when answering “tell me about yourself” fully prepared and on the tip of your tongue.
- Know what people are looking for in your industry. Depending on your career choice, you’ll want to emphasize different points. For example, developers should definitely have a section devoted to languages and software, and probably an area listing some side project successes. I would expect anything dealing with some type of tangible output has a portfolio.
- Tell people you know you’re interested in changing careers. I’m not saying you should tell your direct manager, but keeping transparency of your goals can be a good thing. Really good managers will understand that you’re under-challenged or if the industry isn’t right for you. I would focus more on telling your friends. These people will be able to make suggestions and also keep you in mind if they hear anything come up in that field. If you don’t let people know about your interests, it’s a little difficult for them to help you in the area.
- Do your own research of companies in the industry you’re interested in. Similar to how you applied to colleges back in high school, you’ll need to do the same for jobs. Have your reach jobs and backup ones. Filter through some roles and reach out to those recruiters to see if your skillset is a right fit. If it is not and you want to work there anyway, see what skills you need to work on for your next interview.
- Don’t underestimate your current position. You may be changing industries, but you will have transferable skills that can apply (and may even give you a leg up) to other positions/candidates. If you’re switching to industries that require experience, you may need to take a pay cut and a drop in title, but if it’s your true calling, it’s worth the risk. Plus, if you’re young and ambitious, you’d be surprised at how hard you work when you don’t have a safety net.
Any type of change is difficult: It’s within the nature of change. There’s uncertainty and probable rejection in the near future, but persistence is always key. Once you know what you want, figure out how to get it and do everything in your power to make it happen. The motivation to make change happen is really the hardest part.
~See Lemons Step