What You Need To Know Before Changing Careers

Published on July 15, 2020

Making a career change, whether out of desire or necessity, can be both exciting and overwhelming.  A little planning can help pave the way.  

Consider the following as you gather information and refresh your personal brand.

Before Making A Career Change

  1. Define your work priorities (compensation, flexible schedule, career progression, work/life balance or opportunity for leadership) and reasons for changing careers to prepare for productive conversations when networking, applying for positions, interviewing and evaluating job offers.  
  2. Connect with people working in your field of interest to get a real understanding of their experience. Ask thoughtful questions to learn what it takes to succeed in the role, where the challenges and opportunities are and what steps they took to get where they are. The insights you gain from these conversations will help refine your goals.
  3. Review LinkedIn profiles and job descriptions to identify the key skills, knowledge and experience that lead to success in your target role.  Connect your experience to relevant keywords and messaging as you update your materials and reach out to connections. 
  4. Update your LinkedIn profile and resume so they position you optimally for the change. Clearly communicate relevant experience and transferable skills. Frame expertise so it’s related what you want to do next and highlight skills and accomplishments most relevant to your goal.
  5. Assess your qualifications for critical gaps and work to close them through experience in your current position, volunteer leadership opportunities or online courses or certification programs. If you still need to acquire applied experience, get creative – offer to help an organization with a pro bono project, for instance. 
  6. Engage with content on LinkedIn, expanding scope to include things that are still in your functional area but related to the industry you’d like to break into. Interact with posts from people in the roles or industries you’re seeking. Do this consistently, and people will start to associate you with these other areas. This will also help you build knowledge about key players, timely topics and trends, which is essential for networking in your desired direction.
  7. Talk to your inner circle. It’s important that those closest to you know that you’re interested in making a change and why. These are the people who you can directly ask for help. Identify contacts who know others in functional areas or companies at which you’d like to work and ask for targeted introductions. Make sure that you clearly and concisely articulate what you’d like to do, why you’re making the change and why potential employers should hire you (i.e., what value you bring). Not only is this important for conversations with your closest contacts, you’ll also need to speak to this when networking and interviewing. 

Making a career change or pivot is challenging, but not impossible. Self-awareness, with a clear sense of purpose and value proposition, combined with proactive networking and fine-tuned digital presence, will lay the groundwork for making a change effectively.

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