The massive global shift in 2020 has completely upset the job market. Even if you were one of the lucky ones who were not made redundant, working from home and during a pandemic opened many people’s eyes about their life, their career trajectory, and what they want to do with their lives. It can be all too easy to fall into just comfortable patterns because that is what your day consists of. As soon as that routine is shifted and you have to adapt to a new routine, your job’s specifics and how you feel about it come back to the light.Many people wanted a career shift in 2020, but the uncertainty meant that it wasn’t safe for them to do so. Today, however, vaccinations are being rolled out, and we finally start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, meaning that this is the perfect time to start planning a big career change.
Types of Career Change
There are several different kinds of career changes, and the type of change that you are interested in will change the strategies that you use.
New Position in the Same Industry
The first option is to look for a new position in the same industry that you are currently working in. This is actually very doable for most because you can leverage those that you already know in that industry to get shadowing, training, and new job opportunities. This is most commonly referred to as “horizontal advancement“. Instead of working up for a promotion, you work your way across the different departments to find a new department that better suits your interests and skills.
Don’t feel nervous about asking for this kind of opportunity, either, especially within your own company. After all, you know many of the employees that can help you get there already, but more than that, you also know the industry and the company itself, making you one of the best fit (especially for entry-level positions in different departments). This doesn’t mean that your only choice is to start at an entry-level position, but if that is what it comes down to, your experience with that company makes you an excellent candidate.
Same Position in a New Industry
Many positions are found in every business and every industry. Marketing is an example, and many of the same skills and insights in marketing are ubiquitous. You can bring something to the table with your existing skillset, though not being familiar or having experience with that new industry can put you at a disadvantage.
You will have the skills and experience in this case, but not the industry knowledge or the network. A good way to make this shift is by getting involved with that industry through talks, reading articles and books, and attending events (in-person ideally). This way, you can build up the industry’s necessary knowledge and make yourself the perfect candidate while networking.
New Position in a New Industry
The most difficult type of career change is looking for a new position in a new industry. In this case, it can feel like you don’t have anything to help prop you up, but that is not the case. You can transfer many skills to a new job, and where your work experience is not enough, higher education and training can help you secure your dream job.
Plotting What You Need to Facilitate Your Career Change
What you will need to facilitate your career change you need to prepare yourself. Overall, you need three things to get a job you are interested in: the skills, the expertise, and the network. How you get these will depend on your exact situation, but overall can be done through these methods:
One of the best ways to get the skillset, expertise and even start building your network is by pursuing higher education. There are many master’s programs out there that you can apply to that will allow you to direct your career into the new path that you were hoping for.
You do need to be careful when looking at degrees, of course. You specifically need one that allows you to take general knowledge and specialize from there. You also need one that is designed to help you into a new career path, rather than taking on a more theoretical approach. These degrees exist, and they are very easy to find.
You will know that you have found a good option when the course itself is 100% online and designed to be completed while you continue to work at your full-time job.
The ways you can specialize are also quite broad. For example, you can specialize in management or in operations, which will allow you to direct your career into a new management position. You could alternatively specialize in a specific role.
Click here to learn more about why you should pursue a higher education degree during COVID and remember to be picky about the degrees you apply to. You want them to offer you all the tools and means to make a big career move successfully.
Training and Certification
Like pursuing a master’s degree, completing training programs, and earning a certification can also help expand your skill set and knowledge. You will want to look into these two as options when there are specific tools that you will need to be able to use in your new career. For example, you can become certified in using an Adobe product or other technical tool. This certification proves to your potential employer that you can use the products that they need you to. In some cases (like with Google tools), the training is free; in other cases, there are short courses or classes that you can enroll in, and a test that you can take that will give you the paperwork you need.
Knowledge and skills are unfortunately not enough. Today it is also all about who you know. This can make it difficult to get into a new career, but thankfully, there are plenty of ways for people to meet others in new industries.
Digital or in-person events are definitely an excellent place to start your network. You’ll learn more about the industry, about key ideas, and of course, get to know the people who matter. You’ll be surrounded by people interested in the same industry that you are, and even though you might not get to know or befriend the speakers, everyone in the audience is important to know. For digital events, the equivalent is the comments section, so aim to get in touch with commentors after the event is over to continue your discussion and to generally build up your network of experts in the industry.
Using Job Boards
There are many social job boards out there where people try to find others to help them with an idea or a project. The work you do this way by just reaching out and discussing with people online may not be paid, but it can help you practice and meet real go-getters in your industry. They themselves might be only just starting out now, but these are the exact same people that tend to make a name for themselves later on and who can help you with your own goals.
Your Alumni Network
If you have been to university, it is always a great idea to check out your alumni network. There are mentors and other opportunities that you will have access to simply because you went to that university. The opportunities available are not only in the degree you completed at the time, either so if you haven’t chosen to go through the Master’s track and only have your Bachelor’s, don’t worry. You can get benefit from this tip regardless.
Remember to Use All Your Experience When Job Hunting
It doesn’t matter if you are starting a whole new job in a new industry or taking the next step to management or operations. Your existing experience matters. It sets you apart. It is how you can add that little bit extra that will make you more than their ideal candidate. Never underestimate how important your existing skills are, even as you go forward and pursue further education.
Building Up Your Brand and Expertise
There is no reason to wait for someone else to tell you that you know your stuff. You can showcase your skills and knowledge for the world to see and build up yourself as a professional brand. A great way to do this is to guest write for digital publications. You can also create your own website and blog where you can create a staging ground and contact point for others to get in touch with you. As you go on, you will eventually be able to ask for places on podcasts and then channels until you become a speaker that others in your industry tune in to when they want to learn more.