So, you’ve decided to take the leap into a new career.
Good for you! The hardest part is over!
Unless… what’s that? You haven’t a clue what you’d like to do now? Yikes.
Ok. That’s probably the biggest challenge, but there is plenty you can do to help point yourself in the right direction, and make the transition between careers a little less difficult.
Everything is fine and dandy if you love reading comics, but if you can’t colour within the lines or hold a pen with one hand then chances are good that you’re not meant to pursue a career in comic drawing.
Try searching online for a free career aptitude test (and take a few of them, because there are some pretty bad ones out there). Even if the results of the test don’t come out with anything that sounds like a good fit, just taking the test and answering questions about what you enjoy, what’s important to you and what you’re good at, may be enough to get the juices flowing and spark a good idea.
Is there anything holding you back from pursuing a new career? What held you back in your previous career? Training in a particular area? Communication skills? A certain mindset about success? The attitudes or values of your loved ones?
Find out the tricky things that you’re going to need to conquer, and start working on them now. Seek out what you’ll need to do to overcome these things, whether it’s an educational course, a conversation with your family and friends or just a bit of self-coaching. A fresh perspective and a new set of skills will go a long way.
Let’s be real. If you’re starting a brand new career, you’re probably going to start at the very bottom.
Sometimes it’s a hard pill to swallow if you’re coming from a senior position and don’t have the transferable skills to start halfway up the ladder in your new career. But that’s cool. Just be realistic about what you want to achieve within a one, five or ten year time frame and be aware that it may mean less money in the bank for a while.
In most cases, there is always somewhere you can find experience relative to your chosen career outside of the workplace.
Whether it’s staying up to date with industry blogs and practices, starting your own blog, taking on a side project or joining a club or community group, everything you can do to push yourself in the direction of your new career will be helpful. It will also show prospective employers that you’re proactive and serious about learning something new.
Chances are that you know someone, who knows someone, who has a friend that does what you want to do. Work it.
Make it known to your friends and colleagues that you’re looking for a change. Point out what your strengths are and see if they know someone who is facing a challenge that you might be able to use those strengths and skills to help out. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door and start using your transferable abilities in a new way.
And by smart, we mean S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound).
The last thing you want is to start out all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, blazing the trail towards a new career only to find yourself 12 months down the track unemployed and with no direction. Set yourself some goals to help define where you want to be and when you want to be there.
If you’ve got any other useful tips for making smooth sailing out of a career change, leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear how you managed your own career switch!