We are in drivers seat of our own destinies. And understanding HOW to make a career change is one of the most important ways to change our lives. New opportunities and door will open, but it takes a few key steps to get you where you want to be.
My wife is in her 40’s and she’s successfully just started a new career as a Project ManagerWe are in drivers seat of our own destinies - at any age!
So I thought it made sense to ask my wife Sylvia to actually reply to this question. Here’s is her answer, in her own words…
Sylvia's top 10 list on how to make a career change!
1. Reflect: spend time reflecting on why you want a change and what you enjoy or don't enjoy doing. And then brainstorm on a career or field you want to move into that will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Reflection also means mentally preparing yourself for having do put in the extra work and possibly money that will be required for making a career shift. And reflection is not a one-time thing. It's an ongoing process that will be required to keep yourself motivated and help fine-tune your plans. It can even take months even years to figure out what you want to do, and that's okay.
2. Get a mentor: Once you have an idea of what you want to do, get a mentor whether it's informal or formal, and there's a difference. If it's a more formal mentoring relationship, it may be more difficult to find those mentors. Also pick more than 1 mentor if you can. You can have multiple mentors for different purposes. I found an informal mentor through my work network, someone whom I can talk about work in a safe and trusted relationship. My informal mentor is someone who has a lot of experience and wisdom, and bonus, works in the field I've chosen to enter. Mentors can not only give you advice on your career, but also be a good listening board so you stay motivated. A formal mentor could be a hiring manager in your chosen field who can tell you what skills and experience you need to to be hired.
3. Plan: Once you've got a mentor and the guidance on what skills and experience you need, plan out how to obtain those skills and experience. You may also have to plan on putting money aside to acquire those new skills and experience.
4. Go back to school: Your newly chosen field may require learning new knowledge. Going back to school may not necessarily mean having to get a new degree or diploma or certification. If you already have previous education like an undergraduate degree, you could get creative and brainstorm on what additional knowledge is most highly valued in your new chosen field, like an industry recognized seminar or professional designation.
5. Build experience: having a certification or passing an industry exam may not be enough to being hired in your newly chosen field. You need to have the experience. Think about how you can get more experience in that field whether it be volunteering your time for free, doing an internship or taking on more work within your organization to put into practice your new found knowledge.
6. Tell your social network: Once you've got a plan in place, tell friends, family and anybody in your social network about those plans. Someone in your social network may be able to link you to other people in your newly chosen industry or field, help you find mentors and opportunities to build your experience.
7. Tell your boss: if you work in an organization that promotes cross-functional learning and divisional career opportunities, they may want to support your new plans through mentorship, funding your education and internship/secondment opportunities so you can build your experience while still maintaining your day job.
8. Contact people in the industry: in addition to mentors, you may want to connect with other people working in your newly chosen field so you are fully aware of the realities of the work, including salary expectations, job opportunities and hiring organizations. You may have to go beyond your social network to find these people either by asking your mentors or anybody in your social network to refer you to someone they know. LinkedIn is a good tool and resource.
9. Apply for jobs: Even if you may not have all the skills or experience built up, you may still want to have a reality check of where your progress is compared to the job market. This will help to build your professional network within your newly chosen field whether it be networking with recruiters or coming up with a short list of companies or organizations you'd like to work for. Don't be disappointed if you don't get any call-backs or if you don't ace an interview. This provides you with a reality check in terms of what skills and experience you still need to develop and build.
10. Be patient. And believe in yourself: All this effort is an investment in yourself so it will take time to see the returns come in. Be patient even if things don't seem to line up quickly enough. Keep reflecting on your next steps. And talk to your mentors so you can stay motivated.
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