It is a Brand New Year and some of us might have wished for a Brand New Career in 2019. Is it doable? Of course it is!
Over the years, I have read several books and articles on Career Changing, but to my humble opinion, I have not yet seen the definitive Golden Path to career switching. But I do welcome any relevant advice, so I can share it and help people succeed. Meanwhile, may I suggest that you -please- follow these 11 steps bellow?
Step 1: Understand why do you want a New Career.
As an active recruiter (I am the owner of HIREghana, www.HIREgh.com ), my associates and I come in touch with candidates (or their CVs) looking for a career change for a whole variety of reasons, such as:
Switching careers in any case, is a difficult decision which is wrought with many other complex issues. But you cannot proceed in this voyage without understanding with YOU are looking for a career change- you will go down the wrong path otherwise.
Step 2: ‘(Re)Orient’ yourself in the Job Market + Focus!
The easiest -and possibly the most obvious thing to do is to look for jobs within industries and role-types where you have already built- up ample professional experience and ideally roles where you have proven yourself. On the other hand if your career has become stagnant, a switch would be most likely the right move for you so you can get your career going again.
Whatever you decide to do, you need to Focus Your 'Switching Effort'.
It seems to be a Best Practice if you focus all your job hunting in just 2 or 3 target industries. But do use google and do extensive industry research -including news resources, so you do become familiar with:
Step 3: Do a Self- Assessment
Just take the time for a real inventory of your accomplishments so far, your sharpened skills, and also YOU as a person; that will help you to define and itemize all your transferable experience and skills.
Nowadays, the internet is full of free and quite good self- assessment tests.
Step 4a: Think: How will your future employer perceive you?
Simply 'view' your career/ work- history through your future employer's eyes:
1. Has your career path till now been a consistent one? In what ways?
2. Does it show natural progression? Have you acquired more skills and responsibilities?
3. Have you always met all your KPIs and got 100% of any annual bonus you every had?
Employers never view directionless job-hopping as a positive thing. It is a lot different to change jobs to get more and diversified experience and responsibilities and it is a lot different if you were: an office manager for 3 years, a restaurant manager for the next 3, a dj for the last 2 years and a real estate agent in between... and now you want to become a digital marketer.
Step 4b: What is YOUR Professional Value.
Having done all of the above 3 steps, might help you in figuring out what is the special value that you could offer in the new Industry/ Market where you are doing your Career Switch.
Get a clear and very thorough understanding of what your previous professional experience has in common with the targeted industry. Use the new industry language' to translate the relevance of your career accomplishments & all functional expertise, into terms that will be meaningful to the people (interviewers, hiring managers, future colleagues) in your new industry.
Kind 'reminder': Use quantifiable accomplishments and achievements accompanied by numerical amounts such as currency units, percentages, etc, especially if you are a senior job- hunter.
Kind suggestion: see Whitmore's SMART Model to do all these.
Step 4c: An example
I coached a candidate 2 year ago. Having just lost his banking job (it was teh time when banks started collapsing), he could only find a job as a SHS teacher. He honestly thought that his career and his whole future was over because of this ‘bad/ irrelevant’ new job. After a few sessions, he realized that teaching is about:
l communicating any complex concept in simple language,
l having to support that with examples,
l doing all that with a clear understanding of the level of his audience,
l having a perfect time- management of every event during a lesson- delivery,
l evaluating in real-time the learning results /effectiveness of his lessons and
l seeing how he could optimize and improve the knowledge transfer
The result of that understanding his Value and Repositioning his newly acquired Skills? He became a Corporate Trainer for another Bank with double the salary he had in his last banking role!
Step 5: 'Sell' your Strengths
Knowing your Value and Strengths, is great- but you still need to ‘sell’ all that. What makes you uniquely qualified over another candidate who has the industry background? Think about it, and start ‘selling all that’.
Simple example: if you are applying for a marketing role, select and highlight any marketing elements from all your previous jobs, downplaying all other, less relevant aspects. Show confidence in your abilities and your past achievements.
Sometimes, your strengths are to be found also in quantifiable achievements in community, voluntary, part-time or temporary work;. Never assume that specific skills or added relevant qualifications do not count - they all count. But be extremely selective of all these: use and include only information that is relevant; otherwise you'll blur the focus of your CV.
As a Headhunter, I do not include nor do I mention my cooking & singing skills.
Step 6: Terminology (get familiar with it)
Google, Find out, Learn and Start using the 'relevant' terminology/ lingo/ language/ industry terms & buzzwords.
Subscribing to a few Industry- specific letters will help with this. Other way to get help with it, is Professional Networking.
Step 7: Plan for a Career Change.
All the items/tasks that I mentioned so far and the few ones bellow, require time. Career Change is a bit more complex than normal job hunting, so please treat it as a complex project and physically plan for it and its execution.
This is extremely Critical, so do not underestimate the need for planning and its power please!!
Step 8: Professional Networking.
Expand your current Professional Network to include people in your new industries or in the roles that you desire a career change to..
Don't just LinkedIn- connect with them! Talk to them too- meet them, please!
Ask them for advice -even what salary to expect, or to introduce you to others, if they know of any job-leads, URLs you should be constantly checking out, etc…
You can broaden your network also through joining professional organizations, finding alumni from your school or even via conducting informational interviews.
Step 9: Start & Keep ...'MOOCing'!
Follow some MOOCs to close knowledge gaps in areas relating to your desired new career. Think of getting/ following some MOOCS on EdX or Coursera or FutureLearn or NoveoEd or the African Management Institute (there are others MOOC- providers too)?
Golden Tip: Avoid Alison Courses or at least do NOT list them on your CV.
In 2019: lack of MOOCs in your CV might translate to lack of motivation for a career change.
(MOOCs=Massive Open Online Courses; a lot of them are free or low cost)
Kind suggestion: if you plan to switch to the nonprofit sector, kindly consider following the free 7 courses of Philanthropy University (PhilanthropyU.org).
Step 10: Find a Mentor.
Changing careers is a major life decision that can get overwhelming at times. Find a mentor who can help you go through all these rough rides.
A mentor does not have to be a highly- placed manager or director and s/he could also help you by taking advantage of his/ her network.
Also a Mentor can help you both in expanding your Professional Network and in choosing the right MOOCs!
Step 12: Use the power of a Cover Letter!
This is the ideal place to explain the why and the how of your career change and highlight your skills and how bringing them to that new role will benefit the new employer.
In Conclusion: Why Employers hire Career Changers?
Industry-changers frequently bring many advantages to a new employer:
The most successful type of career change involves staying in the same functional area, but transferring your skills to a different industry. Be prepared for a possibly longer job- search.
So, please do your ‘homework’ and you will be successful in your career change!
Thank you + Good Luck please.
About the Author: