Frustrated by a lack of opportunities in your field or unhappy with your career trajectory? Many job seekers want to change fields, but don’t know how. These steps can help you make a major move.
But first, consider this: Hiring companies typically choose someone who has the exact experience they want, not someone who is from a different field. To be considered, you must impress upon them that your past experience, coupled with your new training/education, makes you uniquely qualified for their position. Here’s how:
15 steps to changing your career field
- Consider what you really want to do. Completing my Career Action Plan can help. Make sure that you want to change careers because you have a passion for something else and not because you don’t like your current company or boss.
- Research careers and hot jobs related to your interests. Study relevant job descriptions to make sure you still find the field interesting.
- Narrow your career options to the one you really want. Don’t skip this step! Often job seekers can’t decide and their indecisiveness keeps them from being considered for any job. Decide and then discard the other options to focus on your target career.
- Include all of your transferable skills and certifications on your resume and LinkedIn profile. Remove or minimize skills that do not relate to your new career field.
- Recognize and address educational and job experience deficiencies. Such deficiencies could be the biggest reason why you are being rejected for positions. Fix your weaknesses.
- Contemplate how to attain and afford needed education/training for your new field. Consider scholarships, grants, and loans; as well as government-subsidized options, etc.
- Consider whether you can transition to a new career within your current company. If it’s a possibility, put together a proposal for your company leadership to convince them that helping you attain this new role (through training, job shadowing, college classes, and on-the-job experience, etc.) is in their best interest.
- Get trained or educated in your new field. Getting the necessary degree or certifications could take weeks or years depending on the career you choose to pursue. Also learn through available free resources.
- Volunteer using your new skills. Offer your services to a relevant local nonprofit or serve on its board and work your way onto the committees where you can use your talents.
- Gain needed experience. This could involve taking on new tasks at your current job, taking a part time job in your new field, freelancing, interning, or starting your own company.
- Develop relationships within your new field. Attend relevant events and seek out mentors who can help you get established. Network with influential people over coffee or lunch to become well known in the industry. Remember, who you know is as important as what you know. Also remember that people who know you and respect your abilities in one field may be more willing to give you a chance in another.
- Establish yourself as a real contender in your new field. Write a brief statement (aka: elevator speech) that mentions how your past experience coupled with your new education and skills make you uniquely qualified. Be ready to rattle off this statement whenever you interact with people who can further your efforts. View/use the free elevator speech template created by my friend, Fred Miller, of No Sweat Public Speaking. Consider becoming a blogger or public speaker about your new field. People will quickly perceive you as a leader in your new vocation (I know this to be true. It happened to me!)
- Play up your readiness in your materials and messaging. Create a resume and cover letter that focuses on your target career and that proves why you are the best candidate for the job. Modify your LinkedIn profile to reflect the new you (LinkedIn tips). Join related groups (both physical and LinkedIn groups, as well as Google+ communities). Become a thought leader in your new field by participating in LinkedIn group discussions.
- Develop and show samples of your new abilities. Include them in your portfolio and e-mails to hiring companies. Add them to your LinkedIn profile.
- Apply for jobs in the new field, playing up your new skills and experiences. Learn from each rejection and retool your messaging and interviewing techniques to be even better prepared the next time.
Changing career fields in mid-stream will not be easy, but it can be done!
You may have to take a lower level job at less pay to get yourself established. But if you have a passion for a different field and a willingness to take on the challenge, take action steps now to get prepared … doing so can help you Get a Job!