Changing Careers – things to consider
- It’s unlikely you’ll get your perfect new job in one move. You’ll probably need to change sectors first, and then change jobs after two or three years when you have more experience in that sector. For some people, it can take as many as three or four job changes to find the perfect fit.
- Don’t underestimate your current skills; they’re the key to your career change. If you are working IT for a law firm, you could work IT for Amnesty International or the SPCA. If you’re a lawyer at a law firm, you could be general counsel for a non-profit. The change in sectors may be enough to make you happy. If it’s not, once you’re on the inside, you will be well positioned to learn other ways you could fit into this new industry.
- Research the sector you’re interested in. Identify what kind of jobs people hold in that sector, and which jobs exactly interest you. Then take it a step further. Use LinkedIn to find people with jobs you like and look at their background. What skills do you have in common with them? What are you missing?
- Work your network. If you are able to pull off a big switch in one move, it will be the result of finding someone who can see how you bring benefit to this new job, even if your skills aren’t obviously a match. You might find that person through talking to strangers, but you’re a lot more likely to find that vision in someone who already knows how amazing you are. If you are ready to go public in your desire for change, go very public. Tell absolutely everyone that you know.
- Don’t jump into additional degrees. They’re good for networking, but they’re also expensive and may not give you any skills you don’t already have as a mid-career professional. Start by searching your network for people in your desired field, and then by reaching out for informational interviews. Going back to school should be your last resort for networking. Getting emotionally focused on additional graduate school may be more about wanting a new life than a new career. If you can afford to the time and money, it does offer a radical lie change. But it’s not the only way, or even the best way to a new career.
- Finally, do you actually want a new career or do you want to change your life? They don’t have to go together. A more meaningful job won’t necessarily bring meaning to your life if that’s what you’re missing.
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