How to successfully execute a career change


Changing careers can often be an idea looming in the back of your mind.

You think about it and think about. Never brave enough to make the move.

Then one day, you regret it, because it’s too late and you never got to turn your hand at the career of your dreams.

Well, the first lesson is that it’s never too late to change careers.

The second lesson is that you have to be ok with some risk.

Once you’ve decided that changing your career is absolutely something you must do follow these steps for a successful career change;

1. Start with the why

So many people know they hate or have outgrown their jobs, but the awareness stops beyond that.

You’ve got to get clear on the why before you start spearheading for something new. Otherwise, you could end up in the exact same position but just with a different title.

Think about these questions:

Why do I want this?

Why do I think this new career will enhance my life?

What are the risks or potential downsides?

Through this excersise, you match your expectations with any future potential role!

2. Determine the what

What will a new job or career look like for you?

What will your day to day look like?

What tasks will you be faced with?

How will you be in the role?

Also, a very important question to consider:

What is my career capital? In other words, are you going to be able to leverage your skills, your contacts, and your professional brand to make a successful transition?

You are much more likely to be successful, in any new transition, if you leverage your existing career capital. That means, try if you can, to move into roles that leverage the career capital that you’ve already built up over the years and draw upon your areas of expertise in new and creative ways.

3. Understand what you need

Once you’ve mapped out your career capital (as above). Fill in the gaps. Work out what other skills/experience you need to get the job.

Think about it from a recruiter perspective. Are you an attractive candidate? Do you need more qualifications? Different experience?

Don’t be put off if you need to learn new skills. It could simply be a matter of taking an online course in order for you to say confidently, “Yes, I know Excel” or “Yes, I can use X program.”

Even if the skils require more of your time and effort, if you really want to make the change, you will do it. However, if you are unsure now is the time to know.

You also want to be very clear on the resources you’ll need to fill the skills gap. Will you need childcare assistance? Will this effort take time away from other relationships or activities in your life? Can you have an income free period whilst you transition?

Assuming you feel you’ve unturned every stone, then it’s time to make a plan.

4. Make an Action Plan

Start with the end goal.

What’s your key goal and desired timeline?

Figure out the skills you need to acquire, people you need to meet and who you need to be. Understand each and every milestone.

Write a list of things you need to achieve and get them done. A career change is a huge amount of work. You need to be seriously productive to make the move in good time.

As you work through your tasks you’ll feel the adrenalin and excitement as you ace your steps. You are now plummeting into “newness” and everything is going to be exciting.

5. Track the Effort

Make sure you reach your goals and hold yourself accountable if you miss your own deadlines. Monitor how you’re doing and what you might need more assistance with. Have your calendar organised with everything you need to do. Take no prisoners. If you can’t be accountable to yourself, how can you be credible to anyone else?

6. Rebrand yourself

You’ll need to reconsider your USP (“unique selling point”) in light of your new chosen audience. The easier you make it for them to “get” you, the better the odds that they’ll want to know more. If your skillset is confusing or there are some gaps, there’s more chance of them skipping to the next candidate.

You can’t expect them to join the dots and figure out why you’ll be perfect for a particular role. You need to make it strikingly obvious in your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile why you are the best for this job.

Your competitors will look great on paper because they’ve been in that industry (or worked in similar roles) for several years. So how are you going to brand yourself in a way, to overcome their direct experience and make you stand out?

Here’s an example. Say you’ve been a criminal barrister for a long time and now you want to become a content writer. Not only will your CV show that you’re a lawyer but it will be hard for any recruiter to see why you are a good writer. What you need to do is focus on your transferable skills. So, using this example. Being a criminal barrister means never meeting your clients until the day of the trial. You are a real-life storyteller, in a wig. You have to design the most compelling story in your client’s defence (using his/her instructions of course) worthy of wowing over any jury to overlook your client’s unattractive antecedents and convince them that this time he is innocent. You have to pull on the right strings, sing to the hearts of 12 lay people you’ve never met and rely on your outstanding character judgement in the hope that your client (and all the witnesses) fulfil their roles in your drama. You have to have your finger on the pulse and understand how your words will make people feel. You need to control the narrative, at all costs. And, that is why I can create compelling content, at the drop of a hat.

7. Enlist the help of your contacts

Get your people on board. Get help where possible. Identify your needs. Make it clear how they can help you. Try to offer some value in return but if you can’t just know you’ll get them back when you can.

8. Network

You must know successful people working within that new field of interest. Don’t stress about this. People are actually more generous with sharing their knowledge than you think. especially when you show interest in them and flatter their careers.

The best way to approach is by paying a compliment or noting something that they’re doing that seems interesting. Try not to ask for favours (unless your judgement tells you its appropriate) just use them to study. See who they are and how they do their thing. This knowledge is invaluable.

Change is terrifying.

But, imagine how awful you would feel if you never took the risk.

A life of embracing change (and all consequences that flow with it) is far better than bearing the burden of regret.

So, once you muster up the courage to make the move, you have everything you need here to make sure it’s successful!

For more information read this very helpful blog on Muse by career strategist Jenny Foss.


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