Whether you are bravely admitting you want to make a career change, or have been forced to reevaluate your path due to leaving a company, “next-steps” can be daunting and confusing. While you deserve to give yourself a mental break or even a little vacation, one of the worse things you can ultimately do is become stagnant. I made a few career changes over the past few years and have 5 tips that worked for me, which I hope will help you as well:
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1. Set a goal
The key here is to be realistic because you do not want to set yourself up for failure. They should be measurable so you can track the progress you are making in order to change tactics if needed.
- I will have three job interviews in a different industry lined up within three months
- I will submit my resume to five companies that I am genuinely interested in within the next three weeks
- I will attend five networking events this month and speak with two new people at each event.
Once you have your goal in place, it is time to implement Step Two.
2. Get a “Career Calendar” and Schedule Aligned Action Items Everyday
Setting a goal means very little if you do not actually start taking actions that are aligned with the outcome of a career change. You must take at least one action everyday towards your goal. Using a calendar created just for your career change is helpful because you can sit down for five minutes and plan out one action item for each day during the upcoming week. It could be even the smallest of things such as a five-minute mental visualization of your ideal job, reading an article that is relevant to your career change, or picking up the phone or writing an email to schedule a meeting. Having it written down somewhere will actually propel you to do it.
Also, a calendar is a great place to track the progress you have made. If you successfully set up an appointment with a prospective employer – put it in your calendar. When you look back after a few weeks and see all you have accomplished, it will help boost your confidence.
3. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
If you intend to change industries, hiring managers may question your resume if your job history does not relate to the open position. You must know your skills better than anyone else in order to have a shot at the position. List out all your strengths and skills. Think about how they would transfer to the position you are looking to obtain and incorporate those skills and buzzwords into your resume. Prior to the interview, practice explaining out loud why your skills would work well for the position you are applying to. You can practice this in the mirror or with a friend!
Why out loud?
Because most of us practice in our heads and we think it sounds good. It is not until you are actually engaging in a back and forth conversation that you realize maybe you should emphasize certain words, or transition into your strengths in a way that is advantageous to you. If you hear yourself say it – you will likely know if anything sounds awkward or phony. Do the same list for your weaknesses and practice ways to spin it so that you look enthusiastic about building up those muscles rather than looking at them as something you cannot do at all.
4. Use Your Network
Feel awkward or uncomfortable about asking friends and family for leads? That is understandable, but it is okay to reach out to a people in your network and let them know you’re in the midst of a career change. Explain that you would love to chat with them over coffee, get their opinions on specific markets/industries, or pick their brains for a few minutes. Many of us do not ask for things due to the fear of getting rejected, but hearing NO is a natural part of life. It makes hearing YES all the better. The more you start putting yourself out there, the more you will see new opportunities come your way.
5. Create a Power Group
It’s a fact that women are especially more productive and successful when they are part of a circle with other like-minded and determined women. Seek out three or so women from your network or different group of friends. Schedule a weekly call or meetup once a week (or every two weeks) to discuss goals, what has been accomplished, and where you need some inspiration. This will hold you accountable in a friendly setting, without feeling like you are being criticized. And in return, you also get to help uplift or motivate three other women who need it. It’s a great way to exchange strengths and feel as though you’ve got some people who have your best interest at heart.
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