On average we change our careers five to seven times during our working lives . There are all sorts of reasons why we choose to do this, sometimes our goals or values change, sometimes it is changes in our personal lives and sometimes it is pure boredom or the desire to just do something different and achieve new things. Like all change in life, embarking on a career change can be scary and exactly how do you get that first job in your new chosen profession?
The first thing to consider when planning a career change is why you want to make it and the right time to do it. It takes effort, energy and commitment to achieve your goals, so you need to be sure it is what you really want before investing your time and resources into achieving it.
Are you just trying to escape your current situation or do you really want something new? Consider also what you might be giving up - the grass isn't necessarily always greener. Think about what the change in your career will actually give you in terms of rewards, job satisfaction and earnings, and how that compares to your current situation,
It is easy to fall into the trap of applying endlessly for jobs online and sending speculative emails to people you don't know in the hope that one of them might land fortunately. This scatter gun approach might work but in reality you will have more success opening doors to your new career by networking and building new relationships. Talk to people on the inside about the work they do and how the industry works. This helps you gain a proper understanding and also gets you familiar with terminology. It's good to use social media to make new contacts but there is no substitute for face to face discussions - take people for a coffee, ask their advice, find out who you need to be speaking to. Sooner or later, one of these contacts will open that door for you. The more you get your face seen and the more you talk about your desired career, the more people will remember, and hopefully, recommend you.
Do you have any experience in your chosen field? If not you may wish to consider taking on some unpaid or voluntary work in order to get some. This approach also tells prospective employers that you are serious about your new choice of career and fully committed to achieving it. Furthermore it allows you to test the water and make sure it's really what you want before you jump in with both feet.
We all have a number of transferable skills and it is important that you are able to highlight these when applying for new roles. As with any role, it is always a good idea to read the job spec, pick out the key words and features and then marry them together in your covering letter. Also, make sure that any relevant qualifications and experience are highlighted early on in your CV. It's often also a good idea to explain your wish to change career in a short personal profile at the very start of your CV - this will prevent the reader from just dismissing your application because you don't have the right experience.
Once you have secured an interview you need to make sure you are fully prepared. Other candidates may have more experience so you need to do extra homework. Research the role and the company thoroughly so that you can demonstrate your knowledge and commitment. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked and make sure you answer them fully. All too often candidates are so focused on saying what they want the interviewer to know that they fail to understand what they are being asked. Make sure you have your own questions prepared as well and that these demonstrate your desire to learn and be successful in the role. Talk about what you can offer and the value that you can add. What does the employer get from employing you rather than what you get from being employed by them.
Don't attempt to hide the fact your background is different or unconventional to other candidates. Instead you should celebrate it, talk about your skills and experience and how they add something new and original. This could be what makes you stand out, just so long as the interviewer sees how transferable your skills are.
Don't expect it all to happen straight away! Give yourself time and be prepared for knock backs and rejection. Like all job searches, career change involves building momentum - getting your name and face known, and building your contacts and network. Working with a career coach will give you a significant advantage. Not only will you learn important techniques and tools, you will also have someone in your corner, helping you learn and grow as well as keeping you focused, motivated and accountable to yourself. A career coach is an investment that will pay you back time and time again in years to come.
Dave Leverton is a professionally qualified Career Coach with over 25 years experience in developing high potential individuals to become increasingly successful within their careers and personal lives. To arrange a free no obligation consultation, call 07502 082389 or copy and paste the link below to view my profile and book your free career changing consultation.
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