By: Danielle Koban
Overwhelming. Exciting. Terrifying. Frustrating. Exhilarating. If you’ve decided to make a career change, you’ve probably become very familiar with these emotions. As if making the decision to start a new career wasn’t hard enough, add to that the stress of following that change through to fruition. To ease your mind, here are eight pieces of career change advice to help you throughout your journey.
Know Your Why (And Believe In It)
Changing careers is no easy feat. You need patience and passion to get you through the journey. But the most important thing you need is to know your why. Why are you wanting to make a change? What are you seeking by making that change? What does your heart and head really desire? You need to use your why to drive you through the path that will lead you to a career you love. More importantly, you need to be able to articulate that why to potential hiring managers and interviewers. You need to be able to talk about what fuels your fire and really believe in the words you say. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
Do Your Research
Knowledge really is power when starting the journey down a new career path, so the more you know the better. You already know your why and now you need to learn how to get there. Especially, if you’re looking to make a drastic career change, you need to ensure you’re educated on the new field or position you’re pursuing. Some topics to consider during your exhaustive google search are companies you’re interested in working at and their background, people that work at your companies of interest, position descriptions and qualifications, salaries for your desired new position, and companies that hire for the position you’re seeking. There are plenty of great resources online to aid in your research, like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, even the company's own website. Learn everything possible. I’ve never heard anyone say they wish they knew less.
Make A Plan
Once you’ve discovered your why and done your research, it’s time to make a plan. As obvious as it sounds, the most important thing to keep in mind when making your plan is to make it actionable. Make a to-do list and timeline for tasks, such as updating your resume and cover letter, reaching out to references, deciding on when you want to leave your current position and when you want to be in the seat at your new career, how many job postings you want to apply to each week, how many companies you want to apply to, and what job titles you’re targeting. Without a solid plan, it’s easy to get complacent and casually browse job postings until the “perfect” job comes along. Making a plan and sticking to it will ensure you keep on track and aren’t stuck in an unfavorable position longer than you have to be.
Check Your Finances
As much as we’d like to pretend money grows on trees, the harsh reality is it doesn’t. So before you go making any rash decisions, like quitting your job at the first sign of a new one, let’s talk finances. When you’re looking to make a career change, you have to be okay with taking a cut in salary. You need to decide if you’re happiness and fulfillment are worth a pay cut. You also need to calculate if your bank account can handle it. Your financial situation may not be the key reason you’re looking for new opportunities, but it is a key component to consider. You might discover that you can’t afford to leave your current position for a few months because you need to save more in your emergency fund. That’s totally normal, just build that time into your plan.
Work Your Network
As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” What’s the point of having a network if you’re not able to leverage it when you need it. Reach out to you contacts to see what they've been up to, and more importantly, what their companies have been up to. This will help you to get a pulse on the job market, because you’ve been distant from it for so long. Have companies been hiring? What is the need for the positions you're looking at? Do they know anyone that could connect you with your dream company or dream position? Again, knowledge is power. Talk to as many people as you can and learn as much as you can. If that seems overwhelming and you're not sure where to start, turn to your mentor. That's a great way to get your feet wet and get comfortable talking about your job search for you next networking event. Not sure how to get the conversation started at a networking event, check out these 17 tips for inspiration.
Be OK With Rejection
When you boil down the job search, all you need is one yes. One person to take a chance on you because they believe in your why just as much as you do. But to get to that one yes, you may have to endure a lot of no’s. So be okay with it and get comfortable with rejection. People will say no. Companies will say no. Interviewers won’t think you’re a good fit. But keep going. All you need is that one yes that will change everything. Accept the rejection and learn from the the feedback. Use the experience to be a better person, a better interviewer, and a better job seeker. Remember, sometimes you win and sometimes you learn.
Be Open-Minded And Realistic
Career paths are not always straight. One person’s corporate ladder is another person’s jungle gym. The path to a great career isn’t always simple, so don’t expect any less from the job search. Remember to be open-minded about job opportunities. Just because you never considered a certain position, doesn’t mean it won’t be a great fit. Be open to talk to new people and consider companies you haven’t before. And remember to be realistic. If you’ve never managed people before, don’t expect to be a shoo-in for a manager position. Same goes for salaries. A pay bump may be unrealistic if you’re new to the field and have a learning curve. Learn to be okay with an unconventional position or a pay cut that will get you in the door to a brighter future.
Trust Your Gut
At the end of the day, you’ll know what’s best for you. The position that your gut tells you is right. The opportunity that leaves you feeling refreshed. At the beginning of your job search you identified your why, so follow it. Trust in it. If a position just doesn’t seem to fit, but you don’t have a solid reason why, that’s okay. Keep going until you find the career that excites you. Trust that you will find the right position at the right company. And trust that you will find it in your own time in your own way.
Danielle Koban is a Resource Management professional by trade and a freelance writer and blogger by choice. An Upstate New York native, she attended the University at Albany, where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Accounting. It was during her career transitions where she unearthed her passion for writing and sharing her experiences with others. In addition to SDS, her work has been featured in Elite Daily, Mavenly + Co., Elana Lyn, and Her Agenda. She now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with her fiance and german shepherd, Moose. When she’s not working or writing, you can find her running the streets of Charlotte (literally) and enjoying a glass of wine in the Carolina sunshine. To learn more about Danielle follow her on Instagram at @daniellekoban and visit her website www.danielledoolen.com.