The last time career change was our topic, I explored the mindset of someone who was ready to pull the plug on their current one. It's seldom an easy decision to make, and you want to be sure that you're really ready to move on. If you do find yourself in this position, however, you're likely to encounter a whole new set of challenges. Let's look at a few important areas that are worth considering, so you can hit the career search path running!
What do you want your new career to be?
This is probably one of the hardest decisions you'll make, and one of the most difficult to provide a how-to on. Explore your interests. Examine your strengths. Ask yourself what impact you want to have on the people around you and the world-at-large. Just because you're good at math does not pigeon-hole you into a career in the accounting world (I can personally testify to this!). Combine elements of what you're good at and what you love doing, and it may give you a sense of what field you'd like to pursue. In the end, we may not all be able to have a career that is our absolute dream, but that doesn't mean you need to settle into something that you don't enjoy. If you can't turn your passion into your career, at least be passionate about part of what you choose to pursue.
Where do I start looking?
Once you've got a idea of the field you'd like to pursue, you'll want to get yourself into the right places to manifest your new career. There's always the classic Help Wanted ads in the newspaper, but the world has grown far beyond the black-and-white that's read all over.
Social media is a vital component for a variety of career fields:
If you're looking at a professional or corporate leaning career, you'll definitely want to get yourself a LinkedIn profile. It's rapidly becoming the online meeting place for professionals worldwide, so jump in, join a few groups related to your chosen field, and start building relationships.
If your chosen field has anything to do with imagery or visual appeal (from photographers to stylists to video work), Instagram is definitely a must. It's a very handy social media platform that does away with a lot of the clutter from it's big brother Facebook, and really focuses on the imagery. Hashtags also work much better on Instagram than Facebook, so when you begin searching for like-minded people and businesses, you'll have an easier time finding them.
One of the big platforms that I've already mentioned, Facebook is enormous. There's so much content on there, it's easy to get lost. It is a fabulous way to connect with others, and if you've decided to become an entrepreneur, then you'll likely want to have a presence here.
Beyond the electronic world, the good old fashioned meet-and-greet is another great way to experience the people and businesses that fall into your chosen field. Join local groups like the Chamber of Commerce, an artist collective, or Toastmasters. There's a very good chance that your chosen career field has a community of people who get together on at least a semi-regular basis and have discussions, speaking events, and other opportunities to schmooze. You want to belong to a new career field? Then go out and become a part of it! You never know what opportunities will present themselves...
How do I "market" myself
Different kinds of careers call for different means of presenting yourself to prospective employers. If you're setting out to be an entrepreneur, well, that's a whole blog post on its own (spoiler alert??). If your career search is on the more "conventional" route, you'll want to do some research into what kind of documents employers are looking for. The good ole' cover letter / resume combo is still a strong competitor, and will likely be required by number of the career choices you'll encounter. Having a strong version of that cover letter and resume is crucial, as you'll want to stand out from other potential applicants. If you're not entirely confident in your ability to write a strong resume, then consider reaching out a professional resume writing service, or working with a coach that specializes in it. It may seem like a lot of work and investment upfront, but it will pay for itself many times over in the end.
Depending on the type of career you're working towards, perhaps the traditional rah-rah-me! cover letter may not be the ideal way to go. Liz Ryan, a big name in the field of career search, created a different kind of letter to send instead: a pain letter. It may not work in all areas, but it's an intriguing twist on the traditional way of beginning communication with a prospective employer.
Some careers may call for a professional bio or "one-sheet" instead of the traditional resume. Others may require a prospectus or detailed report that are necessary for application. In any of these cases, if you're unsure about how best to proceed, seek professional assistance. If you've jumped into the social media and in-person pools for creating relationships in your chosen career, you may have already made a contact or two that can help you out!
These are but a few of the many areas and questions that we ask ourselves when looking to change our careers. My hope is that a few of the ideas above give you some direction and clarity in areas you are struggling or confused about. More questions are likely to arise, but that's just fine; the answers will come if you're determined enough and willing to take the action necessary to make your new career a reality.
** View the video for this post HERE **