Quite possibly one of the most difficult things to do in your professional career is to change careers. It’s been said a person changes careers an average of 3 times in his or her lifetime. This may be by choice, often time it’s not, but nevertheless, navigating the difficult road on how to do so can be tricky. I will discuss some of the best practices that I have found helpful in my own experience and in my client’s.
1. Take inventory
What are you good at? What resonates with you? What are you passionate about? These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself when deciding how you want to move forward. Think back on the times in your previous professional experience when you felt most fulfilled. What was it exactly about what you did that you liked? Maybe it was not even part of your job but you did it anyway because you liked doing it. You found it rewarding. You felt fulfilled doing it and you were happy to do it despite it not being part of your job description. In short, what would be the one thing you would do for free if you could? Therein lies your sleeping passion waiting to be brought to life.
It’s a good rule of thumb to have at least 6 months of salary saved up when you’re in job search. This is even more important when you are transitioning careers. Because you are transitioning into a new industry, in most cases it is going to take more time to develop the necessary connections and resources. Before you enter into the unknowing job search, ask yourself these pivotal questions: Are you in a place in your life where you can make this kind of move? Do you have the resources you need? If you don’t, what do you need to do to get the resources you need or to get to a place you need to be?
Follow the age-old adage said by Robert Kiyosaki, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work”. Essentially, the more people who know you, the better. Of course you would want to tap into you own personal network which includes friends, family, and connections you have made professionally thus far, but you also want to get out there and make new connections, as many as possible. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re trying to do; one of the best ways to get help is to offer your help without asking anything in return. Others are more willing to help those who have helped them in the past.
4. Just do it
Volunteering can be a great way to bridge the gap of having no experience in a particular discipline or industry. Getting out there and just doing it, learning about it, and gaining valuable experience is a great way to know if the transition is right for you. For example, if you want to get into the graphic design industry, start volunteering your time shadowing a graphic designer at a non-profit. You will both gain the experience and make contacts in that industry.
These are just a few things to consider before making the jump into a new career. Above all, you must come to terms if transitioning is the right move for you. Use the resources available to you. Because in the end, doing something you love to do is the difference between “you have to get up and go to work” and “you want to get up and go to work”.
-Andrew R. Ko