Had a change of heart about your career or experience issues that may derail your original career plan? Life springs circumstances on you that you have limited to no control over, and that’s not your fault.
Dealing with this places a stressful burden on your shoulders. Instead of feeling overcome and settling for a downward spiral, pilot the change by creating a career change plan with these five keys.
1. Expand Your Network
The first significant key to switching careers lies in your ability to network, and a strong network offers access to job leads, mentors, advice and resources as you explore an industry and research various companies of interest.
You may not think you have a network, but you do. Think about people you attend church with, went to college with or existing colleagues. Join professional organizations online and offline. Reach out to your college and seek out alumni who can offer advice and resources in the industry you want to enter. Start with informational interviews over coffee as your treat.
2. Get Inspired With Transferable Skills
Why not leverage your experience and skills to transition into a new career? Many skills transfer to a variety of careers, such as planning, management, leadership, customer service and communication.
Analyze the job descriptions of particular roles that interest you, and compare and contrast them with the roles you served in the past. Make a list and apply it to developing your career plan and application materials.
3. Empower the Way With Why
Assessing your existing skills and envisioning the career you want for your future help you develop a step-by-step action plan, but you will empower your way forward when you start with why. When you focus on your needs and your motivation, you get out of your own way and remove barriers blocking you from taking action.
Before you take action, your vision is a dream, and you need to make it concrete and actionable to find success. Write down your reasons why, and it will help you create a career vision statement to drive your actions.
4. Educate Yourself and Develop a Career Action Plan
New education and training programs help you develop your career, and you may need to consider education if you didn’t get your degree and your new career requires it, regardless of transferable experience.
Jobs that require a college degree will experience the most significant increase in new openings through 2020, and the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is half of those who don’t have one. Start with your existing skills and include data gathered from your career assessment and research. Write down the educational requirements for your selected career, and develop a timeline for how long that education will take to complete. Use your informational interviews to help fill out your career action plan.
Educational requirements may vary from getting a certificate to pursuing a four-year degree or longer schooling. Your career action plan will keep you on track as you move toward your goal step by step.
5. Find a Mentor
Changing careers involves making a major life choice, and the resulting shifts may make you feel uncertain about the direction you’re going — even with your career action plan in place. You will experience rough patches, and finding a mentor will provide the reassurance and advice you need to see you through the doubt and fallbacks.
A mentor also offers you vital resources, but to take full advantage of them, you must establish a basic relationship with your mentor to find success. Those with a personal rapport are more likely to have a successful mentoring relationship and resulting career change. When you find common ground, you also get to know another’s character, values and motivation, as well as getting to know your own more deeply. This will impact your career as you utilize your mentoring relationship to expand your network and grow your career.
Changing careers doesn’t mean you have to switch employers, either — unless you want that. Progressive employers understand their employees will grow and change over time and want to climb the ladder. Don’t discount continued employment in a different department or location for the same company.
Change starts with where you are, and knowing why you want to make that change will drive your actions. Assess your skills, and where you want to end up, to develop your career change plan. Soon, you’ll make the switch to a new career and never feel stuck again.