The global job market is going through some unprecedented changes right now, and a lot of established systems are quickly being deprecated in favor of new approaches. It’s also not rare to see people with extensive skill sets that they’ve been building for years transitioning to new careers, and this is becoming a very common trend in some industries.
Technology has played a major role in this, as the growing popularity of the sector has drawn lots of candidates from many different industries. If you’re considering changing your career and exploring new grounds, you’re far from alone. But if you want to ensure that the whole ordeal goes through as smoothly as possible, you’re going to have to prepare in certain ways.
Don’t Be Quick to Throw Away Everything
One of the first thoughts that will probably start nagging you quite early on once you’ve decided to switch careers is that you shouldn’t waste any time. And while that’s true to some extent, you should be careful with your attitude about this, as it can quickly land you in trouble. Don’t rush to quit your regular job just yet. In fact, it can take quite a while before you’re ready to actually take the leap and start working in your new field. Until then, it’s important to maintain the stability that your current occupation provides you with and keep up your good work. Even if you’re moving to a completely unrelated field, you can probably still benefit from some good feedback and positive references.
Figure Out What You Want to Do Next
The big question – what field exactly should you transition into? Nobody can answer that for you, and ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out what you want to do, and how you could best apply your current skills in a new line of work. As we mentioned in the beginning, technology is a field that has been drawing in a lot of talent, including people with a lot of experience from other industries. It’s not the only place worth looking though. Healthcare is another booming field right now, and so is marketing. If you do insist on working closely with modern tech, keep in mind that you can easily find opportunities for that in various fields, not just in the tech sector itself.
Build Your Profile on the Side
Take every opportunity to build your new professional profile and learn skills that will be useful in your chosen career. Use your free time to learn everything you need about that field, talk to people, perhaps even build some projects of your own (if applicable to the work you’re pursuing). This can quickly start to eat into your time, so make sure to balance things in a way that your performance at your original job isn’t compromised.
Start Establishing Contacts Now
Other than viable skills, the next most important tool in your arsenal is going to be a strong network of contacts. This is invaluable in any industry, and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door when you have little to no experience. And sometimes, even having a lot of experience is no guarantee that you’re going to get noticed. Having someone who can vouch for you and guide you through the industry is one of the best ways to ensure that your entry will be as smooth and straightforward as possible.
Do You Have the Right Education?
In some fields, education isn’t just a plus, it’s pretty much mandatory for getting in the field in the first place. And even when it isn’t, going through the trouble to earn a degree will immediately set you apart from other candidates and make it obvious that you’re actually serious about what you want to do. In some cases, that degree will open the doors to many new opportunities. The variety of career paths for applied statistics majors can be staggering in some parts of the world, for example.
If you have a knack for a particular type of work and can back that up with a degree from a recognized institution, you’re already in a better position than a large number of candidates you’ll be competing with. Keep in mind that you might have to earn more than one degree in some cases though. A bachelor’s might be enough to get you started, but you may need to progress further in order to get access to the really lucrative jobs. In some cases, like data science, you might even have to go up to a PhD.
Common Problems to Watch Out for During the Transition Period
The initial period after you’ve made the transition is going to be difficult and slow, and you should prepare for that as best as you can. Even with the right qualifications, it can take some time until you start seeing any actual results, and you should arm yourself with some patience in order to get through that grind successfully.
Setting some goals and milestones can be a good way to overcome most of the problems associated with that period, as it will give you a clear sense of progression. That’s what people tend to miss the most when they’re still adjusting to a new line of work, and the lack of any visible indication that you’re moving in the right direction can definitely be disheartening. Don’t let that get to you though – always remember why you chose to make that transition in the first place and keep your eyes on the prize.
You might also not get along well with everyone at first. This is normal in new jobs, but it’s particularly prominent in cases where you’re entering a new field after having spent a portion of your life working in a completely different area. Some of your colleagues will be suspicious of you, and it will take some time before you can convince everyone that you’re a good match for the organization.
Try to Leverage Your Original Skills
Just because you’re moving away from your original job doesn’t mean that you should immediately drop everything you’ve learned in it. Some skills are very universal and can improve the attractiveness of your profile on the job market, especially if you’ve done anything related to tech in your career. Try to leverage as much of your original skillset as possible and follow current trends on the market you’ve entered. You will often find plenty of opportunities to contribute to your work in meaningful ways with the use of your original skills, so take advantage of those situations.
You’ve Managed to Stabilize Your Position – What’s Next?
Once you’ve overcome the initial period and you’re finally in a stable position, the biggest mistake you could possibly make is to become complacent. This is the time when you need to really step up your performance and get even more aggressive about proving your worth. There will be a lot of attention on you, whether you realize it or not. And showing that you’re willing to take the initiative and walk the extra mile is going to make all the difference in how you’re able to progress through your career. It’s going to take a lot of effort, and the first couple of years in your new field might be very challenging. But as long as you know why you’re doing this and you have a plan for the future, you should keep your nose to the grindstone.
What to Do if You’re Not Happy After the Change
Of course, it’s entirely possible that things aren’t going to work out like you anticipated, leaving you in an awkward position where you’ve abandoned your previous career but can’t really progress in your new one either. This can happen for various reasons, and it’s not rare for people to realize that a field they’ve entered is more demanding than they anticipated. Or perhaps you start noticing that the kinds of skills that are valued in this line of work do not align with what you have to offer, despite your initial impressions. Whatever the reason is, you have to be honest with yourself about where you stand in all this and be ready to make the necessary changes to transition out of that career if things come to that.
Don’t see that as a failure. Treat it as a learning experience that can help you grow and identify your strengths for the future. Just because it didn’t work out at this job doesn’t mean that you’re stuck working your original job that you didn’t enjoy. Maybe you miscalculated things to some extent, and you just need to adjust your plans and try again. Whatever the situation, make sure that you take out something useful from what you’ve been through and apply it to your future career endeavors. Chances are, your actual career is waiting for you right around the corner, and all the skills you’ve gathered during this experience will prove incredibly useful for that one!