You have a hunch that you’d be much better suited to work in another field, but the prospect of making a career change feels daunting. One way to handle this transition is to continue working at your current job as you build the relevant background to easily make the change. While venturing into a new industry can take perseverance, it definitely is possible. Just take the following steps one at a time.
1. Research the Industry
Before making a big investment into a new career path, you want to make sure that you’re headed in a direction that suits you. Therefore the most helpful research you can do is not a google search of industry trends. Instead, have conversations with people who are already working in the field you want to go into. You ideally want to ascertain whether or not the day to day of the actual job matches up with what you’ve imagined in your head.
Assuming you like what you hear you’ll also want to inquire about what your contacts consider to be the most important education and experience to improve your prospects at landing a job in your desired field.
2. Obtain Appropriate Education
This may involve anything from picking up a new certification, taking a few relevant courses, or investing in a new degree. You want to illustrate your interest in your new career path and meet any baseline requirements that are a prerequisite for the new job you want.
Since you’ll still be working at your day job you’ll likely be going to schools with night time or flexible schedules.
Be careful of getting caught up in a credentialing frenzy, where you’re always under the impression that you need one more plaque before you are good enough to get to work. Get the minimum requirement, participate fully in whatever education you choose, and then get out of school. Change your focus to gathering relevant work experience.
3. Gain Relevant Experience
The right education will help you overcome any barriers to entry into a field. It will also illustrate your interest and commitment toward making a career change. But at the end of the day managers want to hire people who can get the job done. Hands on experience is what will give you that capability.
Since you’re still working full-time you’ll want to look for opportunities you can do after work or on the weekends. These might be volunteer work, freelancing, or even a flexible internship.
As you undertake these additional responsibilities you’ll want to be careful to maintain the quality of work that you’re performing at your day job. This will ensure that you’re able to keep your current job for now. And when you do leave it will be on good terms.
4. Develop Connections
You’ll already be building your network through your additional schoolwork and outside experience. You can take this a step farther by putting some extra time toward attending industry events, joining relevant organizations, and setting aside time to get to know people who may prove to be useful contacts.
Most jobs are found through networking, so give yourself a leg up on your job search by developing your network.
5. Begin Your Job Search
As you work to complete all of the aforementioned steps you’ll be building a bridge to your new career and will be getting ready to begin your job search.
The first step in your job search is to update your job search materials, your cover letter and resume, to reflect your new experiences and education, along with your involvement in relevant organizations.
Another key to reviewing these materials is to highlight transferable skills from your current and past work history. Consider where your old job requirements overlap with the new job you’re aiming for. For example, you may have plenty of experience with customer service in your job as an event planner that would easily carry over to your dream industry of working in IT customer support.
Once your job search documents are in order you can begin your job search in earnest. Be sure to to draw on all the connections you’ve made, and let your commitment and enthusiasm for your new career path shine through.
Choosing to keep your day job is beneficial because it provides you with income while you’re preparing for a new career path. You won’t be as stressed about money or as desperate to take any new job that comes your way, but your life will temporarily be busier as you juggle your current job and your preparations for your new career. Stick with it, be patient, and realize that this double booked schedule is a temporary hurdle en route to a brighter career.
Have you ever made a career change? What helped you? Or are you considering a change? Where do you feel stuck? Leave a comment below!