As Benjamin Franklin said, “When you are finished changing, you are finished.” Feeling disinterested or unchallenged by your current career path? Changing to a completely different industry may seem risky and overwhelming; but if done right, it’s a change that can enrich your work life, extend your career, and bring greater success than you ever imagined.
A well-thought out process is important. Assess your options, seek advice, and determine the next steps in your plan. Not rushing your actions will allow you to wholeheartedly commit to the change and make the transition smoothly and successfully.
The obvious first question is “What do I want to do next?” If you don’t already know, here are points to consider as you weigh your options:
Know Your Priorities
What do you want? Assess what means the most to you, what excites and motivates you. These are not always easy answers to find. Make time to slow down, reflect, and give these questions some serious thought. What do you want more of in your life? Less of? “Mine” your past for events, projects, tasks, etc. that were particularly rewarding and energizing. Consider what specifics about them make them stand out in your mind.
There are thousands of books, online courses, and self-assessment tests that can help you take a fresh approach to your career goals. Start by perusing the shelf of a local bookstore and see which books or authors are intriguing; follow them on social media; see who they reference. One single source may not provide all the answers, but the right one may set you on the path to discovering what you want.
Ask For Help
Family, friends, and colleagues may have more insight into what excites you — or what you are particularly skilled at — than you do yourself. Tell the ones you can trust about your desire to switch career track and see how they react and what they advise. Former bosses, teachers, or coaches can also be valuable resources for a different point of view.
Talk to a Pro
A major career transition may require dedicated guidance. Career coaches and counselors, like Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching, help identify skills, set up an action plan, and outline goals.
Once you know which industry your are targeting, follow these steps to success:
Inventory Your Skill Set
You will likely discover that many of your skills are not industry specific; i.e. they can be applied to a variety of industries and jobs. Try to assess their value from the point of view of a potential employer in your field of interest. Employees at every level are expected to multi-task. The broader your skill set, the more value you can bring to your new company.
Do Your Homework
Study the industry your are targeting and describe your skills and experience in terms that will resonate with potential employers.
package your skills. Research the industry and its big players by reading reports, trade journals, and the websites of industry professional organizations. If you know someone in the industry, set up a lunch date to get his or her perspective and advice.
Network, Network, Network
Stay in touch — or reconnect – with old contacts and new ones, too. Participate in professional group events, build up your LinkedIn account, and consider every social activity a possible networking opportunity. (Don’t forget to keep your resume current!)
A career change to a new industry is a big risk. But it comes with a potentially huge reward: a revitalized outlook and rewarding experiences for the rest of your career.