Whether a career change is something you’ve been contemplating for a while or has suddenly been forced on you due to “unexpected circumstances”, rest assured there’s plenty you can do to make the transition a successful one. Here are a few thoughts to get you started. But, by all means, share your tips below in our comments section!
Consider Your New World
Where are you headed? Are you thinking about trying something in a completely new industry, new company, or new career path entirely? Getting a clear sense of what direction you’re headed is critical. You don’t need to be laser focused, just clear and confident about the general direction. If you’re not there yet, this is a great place to start.
Build Your Story
You never want to look like you’re haphazardly jumping ship or randomly bouncing around jobs. The more of a story you can tell about what lead you from one path to the next, the better you’ll present yourself and your situation all around. For example if you were in the event planning business and ended up working in a restaurant, you could always say that you’re building your experience around all facets of entertainment and entertaining.
Maintain Your Network
Stay connected to people who have become mentors and friends or trusted colleagues. Even if you don’t plan on staying in the industry. Remember, relationships don’t all have to serve an immediate purpose! You never know where the next lead will come from either. Plus, these people can be not only emotionally supportive and understanding of your situation, but they may also have some great insights of their own on possible next steps for you. Often times, senior management will even bring people they really like with them when they switch careers. Everyone wants to work with people they know and trust…even when circumstances change.
Investigate Tangible Opportunities
Let’s say you’re working with a company but aren’t in love with what you’re doing there. Think about other places in the organization you could move, or even how you might even be able to join one of their partner companies if appropriate. Going to work for clients or service providers is actually more common than you think. Of course you want to be as respectful as possible of the relationships involved! Another whole world of opportunities can actually open up when you consider all of the other types of companies that service your industry – assuming you like it.
Do Your Research
Once you’ve identified new industries that seem interesting to you, get to know what they look like. Cast a wide net and explore all the different things one could do in your field. Talk to a ton of people. Read like crazy. Don’t be too quick to rule things out. You never know what you might find. Often the best jobs are the ones no one knew existed…or better yet, that they created themselves!
Go to events, parties, out for drinks, invite people for coffee in the industry or field you are considering jumping into. Talk to people who do what you’re considering switching to and get their impressions and advice. Spend time in the new world as much as you can. Know what you’re getting into. Often you’ll find that the grass always seems greener somewhere else…but often it isn’t really. If you do continue to like what you see, your transition into your new career will be all the easier for you.
As soon as you know that a change is in your future (or something you need to jump on right now), start laying the ground work to explore, learn, expand your comfort zone, and network within the new environments, organizations and groups that hold your greatest prospects for a future home. Why jump cold turkey if you don’t have to. Go forth with confidence, excitement and all the enthusiasm you can muster.