You’ve done it. You’ve quit the soul-sucking job that used to leave you counting down the hours till the end of the day, and then frowning more than a little when you realized it was only Tuesday. Good for you! This life is too short to stay in a position (or industry for that matter) that you have to convince yourself “isn’t so bad” on a daily basis…
…now what? Well, what you’re not going to do is stress!! That doesn’t help anyone. Maybe you were prepared and have another job lined up, but if you don’t, that’s totally okay too! There are jobs to be had out there, and even if you don’t have a bulging savings or back up plan (read: parents’ couch) in place, there are excellent resources to help ease you into finding a new career that you actually want! Check out these 6 tips for changing career paths.
1. Avoid the pessimists. Changing career paths is hard enough. So having to hear about how “irresponsible” you are for making that decision to better your life from the pessimists in your life doesn’t make it better. Yep, the nay-sayers. They’re out there, oftentimes in your own family, and while they come from a place of caring, what you need to remember is that most people prefer to be discontent but comfortable than to accept change. Granted, if you are a habitual job hopper, there may be legitimate concerns, but if you are truly unhappy, it is okay to make an informed transition into a new field. After all, job security in its original form (i.e. the kind our grandparents and parents were blessed with) is a thing of the past. You are only as valuable to a company as the work you do now, and if you are discontent with your job, chances are your work was dwindling anyways.
2. Make a list. No doubt you are sublimely aware of what you disliked about this position, but was there anything you liked? Write both down, then create a separate list of what you’re ideal career looks like. Get down to the detailed characteristics as much as possible, maybe you want to work from home, or you want to work with kids. Decide which aspects are non-negotiable for you, and start searching from there.
3. Buy yourself some time with part time work. Speak another language fluently? Have writing/editing skills? By finding something you can do part-time you resist the urge to take the first job that’s offered to you (which I’m willing to bet is what got you into the soul-sucking job in the first place). That way you have the space to research a new field and find out what you need to do to make the transition. Who knows, maybe the part time job could end up leading you to a new career that you LOVE!
4. Find someone with the job you want. Once you’ve figured out what you want in a career, start digging through your contacts, or create a LinkedIn profile and request to meet with people who have jobs in the industry you’re interested in. Offer to take them out for a cup of coffee, and mention that you’ll work around their schedule, don’t be afraid to flatter them, they’ll be more likely to meet with you! And, make sure you come prepared with the questions that you really want to know.
5. Keep busy. Too often the “grass is greener somewhere else” momentum that you start with after leaving a job spirals into an office slump of a different kind (the home office blues). Beat the blues by keeping busy. Plan to go to a coffee shop at least 2 days per week to job hunt. Schedule meetings or informational interviews instead of writing your questions in an email or over the phone. Go to networking events. Keep that fire under your derriere to find something that truly makes you excited and/or challenged to be better!
6. Create a new resume and killer cover letter. Depending how long you’ve been in the last position, there’s a good chance the job searching process has changed. Instead of applying to 150 jobs with a copy-paste approach, find 5-6 companies you want to work for, research what the company is doing and how you can assist in their wider goals and aspirations, and highlight your transferable skills in your resume. Oh, and make sure you follow these new standards for writing a great cover letter.
Have you recently changed career paths? Please share your experience and/or learnings with us!