Searching for a new role that you actually want and will enjoy takes enough time, effort and patience as it is – without the added complexity of trying to change industries or careers. Whether you are moving to a new company by choice, making a complete career change, struggling after being made redundant out of the blue, or downsizing to retirement, the career transition process can be tough.
Follow these steps to help ensure a smoother transition from where you are today to where you want to be.
1) Know What You Want: this is a crucial first step to ensuring you end up in a role you love. Understanding what makes you happiest when working is a great place to start. Some people we talk to think this is ‘pie in the sky’ stuff – that every job is full of tasks and responsibilities that aren’t that much fun. But take some time to identify the areas in your work that you enjoy, and those areas you’d like to do more of – and you’ll be on your way to identifying what you should be doing as a next step.
2) Do Your Research: instead of assuming the grass is greener on the other side, make sure you do your research first so the decisions you make are all based on facts, not fiction.
3) Audit Your Skills: this is important for most people, but particularly so if you’re looking to make a career change. If you want to avoid jumping from one job to the next, you need to audit your skills. Look at what you know, and how your skills might be transferrable – brainstorm ways in which they may help you progress to that next role.
4) Plug Your Gaps: decide if your skills, knowledge, expertise etc. is lacking and work out how to fix it. This might mean undertaking additional training, education or short courses or it might just mean doing some research or networking of your own.
5) Don’t Rush: if you can afford the time, don’t rush the process. Opportunities have a way of presenting themselves when you open yourself to them, so take some time to qualify prospects and ensure they are meeting your future goals.
6) Get Online: if you’re not on LinkedIn, now is the time to join. Analyse your professional presence online and optimise it. Update your LinkedIn profile regularly and utilise your connections to open up opportunities for new roles.
7) Network: networking (both online and in more traditional formats) is important for anyone seeking employment, but is particularly so for people transitioning. Follow and reach out to associations and follow companies, subject matter experts, and thought leaders on LinkedIn. Networking may well uncover roles that have not been advertised.
8) Ask for Help: learn to ask for and accept help when it’s offered. Most experienced individuals are more than happy to help, so long as it’s appreciated and not taken for granted. So seek assistance and leverage others’ success to help fulfil your own career goals.
9) Be Realistic: understand the process could take time. Most experts estimate a straight forward career transition, where no additional training is required, takes at least six months. In the mean-time, you could think about doing some consulting, freelancing, internships or trainee work. You should also prepare yourself for the chance you may have to take a pay cut or demotion to secure the right opportunity.
10) Practice Before the Interview: when you land that all important interview, don’t blow it. Use the S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach or similar to articulate some examples and practice them before the big day. That way, when put on the spot, you’ll be able to clearly explain how you’ve added value or solved problems in the past.
A career coach can help you navigate the process, assisting you with everything from researching your dream role to brushing up your interview skills. If you would like help with your career transition, please see our Career Advice and Career Counselling Services.