There has never been a better time to switch your career path than right now. As crazy as that may sound, the world is in flux right now. Many people have lost their jobs and companies are readjusting their structure and goals. Therefore, this is the best time to take advantage of this professional reset. Use this time to figure out what job would best suit you!
1.Consider your interests and talents
The first step in choosing a new career path is to stop and reflect on your interests. Your interests can be a strong indicator of your talents and abilities. Think about where you like to spend your time, what you like to learn about, or what people mention you are good at. Can any of these ideas translate into a new profession? Perhaps you enjoy and are good at organizing events amongst your friends and family. Consider career paths that allow you to monetize these qualities. You could work as an event planner, program manager, or office manager. The best kinds of careers leverage your interests, talents, and passions in a productive way.
You should also think about career paths that exercise your passions. You would be surprised how far passion can take you—especially in interviews. For example, perhaps you are passionate about racial equality and equality. You may be interested in Diversity and Inclusion corporate positions or working at a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping people of color.
With proper planning and consideration, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” could apply to your life as well.
2. Think about careers that may be similar to your most recent career
It is easy to make the leap into a new career path if you aren’t jumping far away. This can be especially helpful if you are looking for a change that doesn’t require relearning a whole new industry. It may likely be easier for you to jump into a field that is somewhat related to your most recent position. For example, if you work in the social work field, you may find it easier to become a school counselor than it would be to become a biostatistician.
Think about the major expectations of your current job. What skills, abilities, or certifications are necessary to complete your job effectively? Consider what career paths that require a similar background. Or, if you worked serving a certain sub-sect of clients, you may be able to make a jump into that field as well. For example, if you worked as a business to business marketing manager selling aeronautical parts, you may have enough experience to work in the airline industry. Perhaps you could work purchasing airline parts for a specific airline company. Think critically about the work you’ve done and what parts of your current job you like. Then research similar career paths that can translate into a successful related position.
3. Reflect on your previous jobs and careers
Most people have worked in a wealth of different work environments and job functions. Take a moment to reflect on every single job you’ve ever had—including the jobs you’ve held in high school. Write one or two things you liked about each job, excluding things like coworkers, bosses, job location, etc. Then, write one or two things you didn’t like about each job excluding things like coworkers, bosses, job location, etc.
After you’ve done this for each job you’ve held, take a holistic look at the list. Are there any similarities across every job? Perhaps you liked working at jobs where you have a managerial position. Maybe you didn’t like working in customer service positions. After you’ve determined some similarities, think critically about why you liked or disliked certain job functions.
Did you like managerial positions because you like working in teams? Did you like working in research and development because you like working with numbers? These types of insights can help you narrow down your search.
4. Network, network, network
According to PayScale, over 70% of people are in their current position due to networking. One of the biggest challenges of breaking into a new career field is not knowing where to start. Consult people in your personal and professional networks. These people will be able to help you understand what steps you need to take to understand the ins and outs of another field.
If you don’t know anyone who is in your desired field, consider conducting informational interviews. This may require you to venture outside of your comfort zone by speaking to people you don’t know—either virtually or in-person. LinkedIn is one of the best—and safest amidst the pandemic—ways to professionally engage with people in your desired field. Find people in your area who are working in the field you are interested in and message them. Introduce yourself and tell them you are interested in learning about their career path.
Never underestimate the power of flattery. People are often willing to help those who display complete respect for them.
5. Do lots of research!
It is very difficult to know exactly what is expected of you in any given career field if you don’t do your research. Paired with insight from people in the field, this information can be vital. It can help you get a full understanding of the career field. Even if you think you may be minimally interested in a field, dive into the research. Ask questions, watch YouTube videos, and do the work. If you are excited about the field even after all of your research, you know this may be a good fit for you. Whatsmore, now you have all of the information needed to break into the field.
6. Talk to friends and families
Sometimes it is helpful to get opinions from people close to you. Your friends and family can see talents or traits you may not see in yourself. Talk to the people closest to you and ask them what tasks or activities you do well. You may also want to ask them about your negative traits or tasks you do not perform well. A little constructive criticism could help you pinpoint job opportunities that accentuate your abilities and minimize your weaknesses.
Even if they don’t provide you with the most useful information, these conversations can help you identify areas of growth.
7. Take a personality test
Personality tests provide objective feedback about how you present yourself. We highly suggest surveying your friends and family and taking a personality test. Then you can compare the results of the personality test with the feedback from your family and friends. Some personality tests, like 16Personalities, give test-takers insight on what kind of worker they are and types of work environments they thrive in. Some may even provide suggestions for career pathways where your personality type would thrive. Even if your results aren’t perfectly accurate, they will help you reflect on your work style and what you want out of your next position.
8. Consider your professional and personal goals
Sometimes it helps to work backward. Think about where you want to be in ten to fifteen years. What kind of salary do you want to be making? What city or state do you want to live in? Do you want to manage a team or have an administrator position? It is also important to think of your personal goals. For example, your goal to move closer to your parents in two or three years may affect your plan to get your Ph.D.
Think through which goals are most important to you. You may see places in your personal or professional life where you may need to make sacrifices. It can also help you understand how to effectively plan your life. If your main goal is to make six-figures, you may need to adjust other parts of your life and aim for a highly specialized career.
9. Hire a career coach
There are many steps to acquiring the job you want and a career coach can be a great help to get you there. They have both the industry intelligence and training to help you find your next career. Career coaching is a growing industry that helps individuals understand their passions and how to turn them into a job.
Changing your career is no small feat. It takes a lot of work, research, and moving outside of your comfort zone. However, with the right resume, cover letter, and a little guidance, you can enter 2021 with a new career opportunity.
10. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Finding a new career path is a long and arduous journey. You will likely not find the perfect job or career path after one try. You will have to learn how to be calm when you’re uncomfortable especially if you are breaking into a field where you have no experience. It is impossible to gauge whether or not you will be good at something unless you try, which may mean making mistakes. But it is all part of the process. Be nice to yourself.
Changing your career is no small feat. It takes a lot of work, research, and moving outside of your comfort zone. However, with the right resume, cover letter, and a little guidance, you can enter 2021 with a new career opportunity. Learn more about our career services.