Most people assume when they’re first starting out that they will be in their career for life, especially if they needed special schooling to get there. However, it is simple human nature to grow and change in our interests and goals. Whatever reason you are looking for a change, it can be difficult to know where to start.
What was it that makes you want to leave your old career? Was it long hours, high stress, low pay, or not enough challenge? Did you simply not feel like you were making a difference? Determining what made you unsatisfied in your old career will help you avoid falling into the same conditions in a new career. Knowing what you don’t want can sometimes be just as helpful, if not more, than knowing what you do want.Examine Your Strengths
Even highly specialized jobs will teach you a number of different skills. Did you get management, customer service, organizational, or other useful skills in your work that you could translate into another career? Volunteer work, internships, or even travel experience could translate into strengths that can appeal to hiring managers of a new field.
Test The Waters
If you are intrigued but unsure about a new field, try volunteering or getting an internship to learn more. Not only will this help you be sure you enjoy a field before making a larger commitment, it will also give you more experience when it comes to get your first job in the new field. Talk to people who’ve had the job you’re considering for a few years and ask them how they honestly feel about it. Getting a truthful description of the work from people who’ve actually done it will tell you far more about what you can expect than hours of research.
Research The Requirements
Any new career will have at least some degree of a learning curve. Take the time to find out if your new career offers on the job training or requires a trade school or further college degrees to qualify. In addition to schooling, there are often experience requirements. You may have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Make sure you are willing to make that change in culture and position if necessary before you move to a new field. Luckily for people who might be this predicament now, there are lots of free career resources online today that can make this step a whole lot easier, such as the career exploration articles on FindHow.com.
Use Your Resources
If you have friends or family in your desired field, as them what you can do to make your resume stronger for potential employers. If you already have a connection to the field through your current job or friends and family, ask if they offer any kind of tuition reimbursement in return for years working for the organization. Some companies will offer tuition assistance for schooling in any field, which can be a huge help when you are looking to change directions, but make sure you know what you are offering in exchange. Most tuition assistance programs require a certain commitment to the company. You can also find loan forgiveness and other similar programs in many fields that are considered important to the community, especially if you work in communities that are currently struggling.
Get Relevant Recommendations
Building your pool of recommendations, particularly from professionals in the field you hope to enter, will greatly improve your resume. If you are taking classes to prepare for the change, spend office hours getting to know your professors, asking them to clarify anything you don’t understand, and asking for career advice. Making a real connection with your professors, rather than being a face in the crowd, will get you strong recommendations and good advice. Talk you the leader of your internship or volunteer teams as well to form a strong professional relationship and lead you to become stronger in the field. Many organizations hire workers from their former interns, so if you do get an internship, make sure to do your best and make a shining impression. Volunteer work gets your foot in the door, but it’s up to you to come the rest of the way inside.
Changing careers can be both an exhilarating and frightening experience. Make sure you know what you want at the start and go for it with everything you have. Making yourself knowledgeable about the field and its requirements will lead you to greater success down the road. Don’t burn your bridges when going about the switch, since you never know when an old contact can help out either you or your new company.