We are making career switches at a faster rate than any other generation. It’s a good thing in my opinion because it means we can choose work that expresses our Best Self, our purpose, our passion. As a result, we’re happier and likely performing better at our jobs.
That’s why so many of us go to college and graduate schools. It’s also very natural, in our 30s and 40s, to re-evaluate our career vision. But to switch successfully you need to convince both yourself and future employers that you’re a strong fit for the new job and career!
To be successful at making the switch, here are 5 key steps:
1. Identify Your Life Themes of Interests and Passions
Let’s start with interests and passions. Everyone of us has these. We may forget over time. This is true for many clients who’ve worked for decades or students who’ve never been encouraged to pursue a career related to their passions. Good news is you can always access what jazzes you up! Why is passion important? It’s your compass to work that will satisfy you for a lifetime. You’ll also do well in work you enjoy! Most encouraging, there are various ways to express your interests and passions, and thus, different kinds of jobs/career to pursue.
- Think back to when you were 10 years old (in 5th grade) – do you remember what you wanted to do? More importantly do you remember why? I remember having made a diorama as a pediatrician because I liked helping people heal / get better. I’m not a doctor but my core interest is exactly the same.
- Think back to high school / college. What courses did you really like? What extracurricular activities did you enjoy doing? Again, why?
Review your why’s and I’m sure you’ll start to see some themes. These are indications of your life interests and passions, which may be applied in different career types. From here, you can consider careers and jobs that line up to these interests and passions.
2. Pinpoint Proven Skills You Can Transfer to the New Career
Organizations hire people who prove they can be effective the moment they start the new job. That doesn’t mean you need to have previous experience in this new job. However, you need to prove what you did / what you know can be transferred to the new career/job.
Here’s an example. I’ve met many ex-engineers in business schools who are interested in management consulting. They actually have very solid transferrable skills – they are adept with quantitative analysis, they problem solve with frameworks, and they are logical thinkers. If they’ve worked with clients / managed projects, even better. This proves they can collaborate with colleagues and influence clients.
- Review your professional experience to date. Even extracurricular activities in college.
- What skills are you adept at (influence, analysis, mediation, coaching)?
- How can these skills be applied to your new job/career?
3. Assess Your Readiness to Make the Switch
You may want to make the switch. But are you ready?
- Review existing job descriptions and cull out their key requirements
- Do a gap analysis – how’s the match on key skills /attributes? High, Medium, Low? You may need another set of eyes for impartiality. It’s important to be honest.
- What will recruiters / interviewers think about your readiness? Look from your customer’s perspective
- Consider other life aspects – finances, time, travel, etc.
If you have very strong interest but have gaps, determine how you can get the requisite skills. Is it getting a transition job that can provide more experience? Do you need to go back to school or get a certification?
4. Develop A Story and Practice Your Pitch
When you decide to switch your career, you need to convince and sell others that you are the right candidate. A story that addresses your interviewer’s most important needs is critical.
- Develop a convincing story that:
- Provides a headline that connects your interest and skills to the key requirements of the job
- Provides a topline proof — examples of how your past experiences / passions match what they’re looking for
- Now that you have a story, practice so you become an effective storyteller
5. Getting Started
Yes, making a career switch takes time and effort. Here are 3 ideas:
- Put aside time every week in your calendar to imagine, research and explore.
- Talk to others (i.e. network) to get more insights and information.
- Take action every week to move forward on your goal to switch your career
Making a significant change like your career will have highs and lows. It’ll take time. It’ll take effort and practice. It’s all part of the process. The road will have detours – you’ll take 3 steps forward and then have a setback. When this happens, it’s most important to recognize how you are moving forward and then, keep taking steps toward making your dream career and job a reality!