Feeling unhappy or unfulfilled in your current career? If so, you’re not alone. The Conference Board reported that only 54 percent of employees are satisfied with their jobs in 2019. That means nearly half of America’s workers aren’t content with their employment. Some don’t feel challenged or like they’re contributing meaningfully to society. Others hate their work environment, salary level, or shift schedules. Whatever the case may be, being unsatisfied has a bad effect on your physical and mental health. Dissatisfied employees are prone to getting burnout. In other words, you can become so stressed and exhausted that you’re unable to work well. Carrying around that anxiety long-term could result in high blood pressure and even heart disease. Therefore, it’s important to listen when your body says enough is enough. Changing your career could be the jumpstart you need to feel alive and joyful again.
So, what is a career changer? Career changers are workers who transition into different fields to follow their dreams. These courageous people quit their boring or stressful jobs to find better opportunities. For example, a career changer might go from teaching high school to designing software. Career changers can make a move that benefits them at any age. Unlike in the past, people aren’t stuck in the same profession for their entire lifetime. That’s especially true with the plethora of jobs available in today’s $21.44 trillion economy. More people are using this job freedom to locate employment best suited to their interests. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 6.2 million Americans changed occupations in 2017. The average person changes jobs 5-7 times during adulthood. Why not join them? In this article, we’ll provide 12 tips for career changers to successfully revamp their work life.
1. Take Inventory of Your Passions
There are likely plenty of careers you’d be good at that would keep the bills paid. But, there are probably only a few that you would absolutely love. The kind of job that doesn’t make you dread Mondays because it’s more fun than work. Perhaps the best career change advice is find what truly makes you happy. Think about your activities and passions outside of work that could become your job. For example, your gardening hobby may start your career as a landscape designer. Your fascination with drawing and painting might lead to an illustration career. If you’re still unsure of your passions, visit with a career counselor. There’s no shame in sitting down with a vocational counselor trained to help people realize their potential. Taking career aptitude tests online can also steer you toward fields that align with your interests. Follow your heart, not your pocketbook, to pick a gratifying career you love.
2. Be Honest With Yourself About Your Skills
Having strong self-esteem is essential to sell yourself to employers and recruiters. That said, you need to be brutally honest when reflecting on your own skills during a career search. Picking a job unsuitable to your skill set might make you change careers again later. For instance, you wouldn’t want to become a real estate agent if you don’t love to negotiate. If you struggle with public speaking, you wouldn’t want to become an event planner. Yet, you might excel as a novelist, web designer, veterinary technician, or accountant. Do a realistic evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses. Determine which careers would let your unique skills shine brightest. According to Forbes, employers look most for critical thinking, computer, communication, leadership, and decision-making skills. If you find certain skills lacking, improve them. Employers love to see determination and a willingness to learn.
3. Research Possible Career Changes
Before handing over your resignation letter and packing up your desk, you need to know where you’re going. Successful career changes require a lot of planning. Research will help make your ideal professional direction more clear. Once you’ve narrowed down some potential jobs, list the pros and cons of each. Look at job descriptions online to better understand the day-to-day tasks. Read articles from people in that profession and their experiences. Visit the U.S. Labor Department website to determine if the market is growing or declining. What are the best jobs for career changers? Of course, there’s no one right answer for everyone. The best jobs are those you’re enthusiastic about and qualified for. Career change jobs that don’t have strict educational requirements are easier to enter. For instance, becoming a doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, and dentist would require long stints in graduate school. Jobs like entrepreneur, advertiser, writer, HR specialist, and social media manager are available with any degree.
4. Register for Some College Courses Online
Launching a career change with no degree in the field might seem intimidating. However, don’t let that hold you back. Many employers pay closer attention to degree level than major. Workers holding psychology or philosophy bachelor’s degrees can still succeed in business without a BBA. People with a science or math degree could still excel in the journalism field. If you’re not confident in your educational background, search for courses online. Colleges have rapidly expanded their distance education offerings to help career changers. Earning short-term online certificates in your chosen field can truly uplift your resume. Most require only 12-36 credits for completion in a year or less. Unlike on-campus courses, online programs won’t require a long commute. Career changers can learn anytime 24/7, even at work, using an internet classroom. Online course tuition is usually cheaper too.
5. Try Out Your Chosen Career with Side Gigs
Getting a taste of a profession before jumping into the deep end is smart. Some jobs might sound amazing on paper but still not be the right fit. Thus, find part-time internships or side gigs to try out this new vocation. Whether you’re 25 or 45, internships get your foot in the door and showcase the demands of the job. Volunteering is another great option. Websites like Volunteer Match can connect you to unpaid opportunities related to your new career. For instance, serving elderly residents at a nursing home could help launch your LPN career. Feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen can determine if culinary arts is your passion. So squeeze time into your schedule for contributing to your community. Volunteer service shines on a resume, which can help land career change jobs with no experience.
6. Network With Professionals in Your Desired Field
Entering a brand new industry is less scary when you’re not on your own. Building connections is critical when breaking into any market. Knowing the right people can provide an advantage over your competition. These professionals can tell you about the latest field trends and job openings. You’ll be able to ask them for firsthand career change tips. How do you meet these people though? Professional organizations are an excellent way to network. Most industries have associations that in-field professionals can join and connect. For instance, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has more than 120,000 members in 55 chapters. Since 1941, the Institute of Internal Auditors has had 200,000 professionals sign up and get involved. Last year, the National Cannabis Industry Association Conference in San Jose had 10,000 attendees and 150+ speakers. These types of groups link you to like-minded people at chapter meetings and national events. Many also offer professional development seminars.
7. Discuss Your Career Plans With a Mentor
After you’ve architected a career change plan, it’s important to get a second opinion. There could easily be some detail you’ve missed or overlooked. Having a thorough plan is essential to avoid surprises later on. Given that, you should find an honest, unbiased mentor to talk to. Mentors may be any professionals who agree to share their knowledge, experience, and time with you. Supervisors, teachers, senior colleagues, and some family members can make great mentors. Simply pick someone you trust who understands the field you’re entering. Then, start building a strong mentor-mentee relationship by talking frequently. Contacts may be by phone or email, but meet face-to-face sometimes, even if it’s through webcam. Ask for their thoughts and open criticism of your career plans. When feedback is negative, accept it graciously and use it to grow. Soak up as much career change advice as possible.
8. Rejuvenate Your Professional Resume
According to Career Builder, two-fifths of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds reading each resume. That means you have one minute to dazzle them before getting discarded. What worked to get your current job won’t likely work in another career. Ergo, it’s time to power up Microsoft Word and refresh your resume. Remember that short one-page resumes with bullet points and clear headlines are best. Make it super personal instead of like generic resumes found online. Start out with your contact info and brief academic history. Then, list your most recent jobs and responsibilities. Highlight proven results and achievements you’ve made. Use verbs like “collaborate” and “analyze” that are mentioned in the job description. Choose to feature accomplishments, including volunteer service, that are relevant to your new title. Include professional organizations you’re active in. Don’t forget a cover letter that further explains your goals and traits. Also cite specific skills you have that would help in this new position.
9. Pass Relevant Certification Exams
Not everyone already has the best career change degrees. You might have an ultra-focused degree like nursing or engineering. Nonetheless, you can stand out by earning certifications in your new industry. Certifications are voluntary credentials that show employers your knowledge of career topics. Certifications require passing one or more proctored exams. Most have few educational criteria required of test takers. Certifying agencies also publish practice tests and study materials online to prepare anyone. For example, the PMI Certified Associate in Project Management credential only requires a high school diploma, one online course, and a 150-question exam. The GIAC Information Security Fundamentals Program certifies any tech-savvy people who score 72 percent or higher on the two-hour exam. The AAPC Certified Professional Coder exam just mandates a short-term diploma and passing score for a $20,000 higher salary potential. Research certifications you can sit for and prove your knowledge to employers.
10. Utilize Helpful Online Job Search Resources
If you’re seeking a change of career at 40 or older, you’ll likely find that the job hunt is much different than before. The internet plays a huge role in job searches today. Job applicants need to be active on popular social media platforms. LinkedIn is particularly helpful in connecting job seekers to hiring employers. LinkedIn is a professional network of over 660 million people in 200 or more countries. Here you can upload your resume, search open jobs, and join industry groups. Don’t forget to add a professional headshot photo to put a face with your resume. Clean up your other social media pages, such as Facebook or Twitter, before linking to them. Employers often Google these accounts to search for red flags and inappropriate behaviors. Think twice before saying anything you might regret since nothing online is ever really deleted. Proofreading your posts to always sound professional is also wise.
11. Practice Your Job Interviewing Strategies
In 2019, the Jobvite Recruiting Benchmark Report found that the average job opening has 42 applicants. Only one in six applicants are asked for an interview. The interview conversion rate to actual offers is then 19.78 percent. Landing an interview is hard, but passing the interview with flying colors is harder. Career changers should brush up on their interviewing skills. Prepare and practice some good responses to standard interview questions. Read the job description thoroughly to find some questions of your own to ask. Brainstorm a good pitch to sell your strengths. Be ready to answer why you’re changing careers and what makes you qualified. Make sure you dress for success too. If you normally wear a uniform or scrubs, this might require a shopping trip to find a power suit. Remember to mind your manners and treat everyone politely. Always avoid limp handshakes, negative body language, and curse words.
12. Create a Budget to Stretch Your Savings
Finding a new career takes four to six months on average. It’s best for workers to plan career changes and hunt openings while still working. If you’ve been fired or laid off, you obviously won’t have this luxury. Consequently, you’ll need to design a strict budget to keep your expenses covered without a salary. Start by cutting out all non-essential items you don’t need to live. Make a detailed spending plan for the essentials, including rent, groceries, utilities, and insurance bills. Collecting unemployment can keep from digging a bigger hole in your savings. Temporary jobs and freelance gigs can also pull in extra income to play with. Career changers shouldn’t wipe out their bank or retirement savings. Taking out loans, credit cards, and home equity can derail your new career with debt. If you’re struggling to plan your budget, seek advice from a financial advisor. These CPAs specialize in guiding clients in life transitions.
Overall, remain confident and bold if chasing after your career dreams. Don’t let setbacks and naysayers derail your hopes of change. Still worried about how do you do a career transition? Developing an action plan with a mentor or career counselor can settle your fear. The Wall Street Journal reported that 82 percent of workers who attempt career changes are successful. The odds are in your favor that you’ll excel in a job you’re more enthusiastic about. Do your homework and arm yourself with career change tips to make the transition as seamless as possible.
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