What does it look like to change careers in an unstable economy or time of crisis?
1. Perform a self and situational evaluation
One of the most important ways to invest your time during a career transition is by reflecting on your current situation. Doing so can help you set a strong foundation for understanding whether this is the right time to switch careers, what you want out of a career change and what you may need to do to make it happen.
Start by asking yourself specific questions that will help you understand your current circumstances, such as:
Is a career change the right answer to my challenges?
Consider why you want to change careers. Making a shift under the current circumstances will present unique challenges, so it’s important to consider whether there are other alternatives. For example, if you are unhappy with the roles you’ve held in the past, could it have been because of your company or manager instead of the job itself?
Is now the right time?
Changing careers may be necessary during this time if your industry or job has been heavily impacted and you are no longer able to find sufficient opportunities. For example, if you were a flight attendant and cannot find similar jobs, you may need or want to change careers now to find work. If you can wait until a more stable and predictable time to change careers, you might consider whether now is the best and most opportune time for you.
Can I weather the expected challenges?
It might be true that, to make a successful job transition, you must spend time building certain skills or building a new network of relevant relationships. It’s important to ask yourself if taking the time to do so is an option for you at this time, or if you need financial support by taking another job in the short-term.
Is it worth the expected challenges?
You might also ask yourself whether the payoff of transitioning careers is worth the challenges that may come with it. For example, while it might be time-consuming, stressful or costly to change careers, it could still be worth it if it will help you get a role that aligns with your long-term needs and values.
2. Perform a professional audit
Taking some time to understand your qualities, qualifications and values can help focus your career transition and narrow down your career path options if you haven’t already. Doing so can also help you understand how you might position yourself during the job search.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
Which soft skills do I currently have?
Soft skills are related to your ability to work with others. Consider how well you communicate, empathize with clients or solve problems. Soft skills are often the most transferable, so identifying them early can help you understand the ways you might bring value to a new role or industry.
Which hard skills do I currently have?
Hard skills are your technical abilities gained by education or training. These could include skills like a spoken language, knowledge of a specific software program or a certain method of project management. Taking inventory of your hard skills can help you identify if there are certain industries that might be easier to transition into.
Which skills am I interested in building?
Once you have lists of the skills you already have, make another list of skills that you want to learn. They might be new skills you want to obtain or ones you already have some knowledge of but are interested in strengthening. Try not to limit yourself here. Instead, freely explore activities that bring you joy or spark your curiosity.
What are my biggest career “wins”?
This may come easy to you or you might feel challenged by the task. Regardless, we all have some career “wins,” it just might require some reflection to identify them. Wins might be compliments from colleagues, recognition from managers, the measurable impact you’ve made at a company or a promotion. They could also be personal professional accomplishments, like winning certain awards or achieving specific goals.
Taking note of your wins can help you realize what you’re good at, what you like doing and how to communicate those achievements to employers throughout the hiring process. Communicating the impact you’ve made throughout your career can help employers quickly understand the value you’ll bring to their organization, even if you come from another role or industry.
Which tasks (big and small) do I enjoy doing most?
Draw from your “wins” and skills lists to get a better idea of which tasks bring you the most joy. You don’t necessarily have to make a career out of your passion, but it certainly helps to follow a career path that includes some responsibilities that you know you will like. Evaluating which tasks you enjoy doing most can help you direct and prioritize your search for a new career.
Do I have a “dream job”? If so, what is it?
This is a good time to avoid limiting your options. Write down “dream jobs” that are more realistic, but also include roles that push the boundaries of what you think might be possible. You never know, at the end of your evaluations, the impossible may seem more within reach than you initially thought.
This might also help you identify a role that’s a stepping stone on the way to your dream job. While the next position you take might not be exactly what you are looking for, you can still gain experience from it that will make you more qualified for your ideal role in the future.
What are my core values and non-negotiables?
Mapping your core values and needs to your job search is one of the most important steps of a career transition. Doing so can also highlight vulnerable industries that may not be evident when the job market is healthy. Your values and needs should provide direction for the role, company and industry you select.
Your values might include the desire to work for a mission-driven company, in an inclusive culture or for an organization that prioritizes work-life balance. Some examples of non-negotiables are long-term financial stability, job security or more flexible working hours.
3. Perform an in-depth career path discovery
When considering a career change, there may be opportunities unknown to you that you might be qualified for or interested in—this is not uncommon.
Find a position or passion that intrigues you and research it further. When changing careers, it is important to read the job description instead of focusing exclusively on the job title. Many employers and industries use different titles for the same or similar roles. For example, an “account manager” may be a sales executive or account coordinator/client success position depending on the organization.
Pay close attention to the requirements and duties of jobs so you can evaluate whether the career would align with your skills, interests and values. This can also highlight the limitations of the situation. For example, you may find a role you like, but it requires a degree or certification that you would first have to earn. That might be feasible for you or it might mean that it’s not an immediate option. Either way, it helps you decide how to move forward.
On the other hand, by thoroughly understanding your existing transferable skills, you can also identify jobs you might more easily get and succeed in. This is especially important to do if you have less time to make your career transition. In this case, try to focus on positions for which you meet at least 60% of the qualifications with your transferable skills. Meeting 60% of the qualifications isn’t a hard rule, but it’s a good general guideline to help you determine whether it’s worth applying for.
Start adding the job titles that interest you to a saved list. Consider collecting 15 to 20 jobs to start. Then, narrow this list down to the top three or five best options for you to further explore through informational interviews and industry outlook guides.
4. Narrow your job list
Next, select the top one or two roles you think you should pursue based on qualifiers such as your non-negotiables, career goals, transferable skills, available opportunity and barriers to entry. If you are considering multiple positions, it is ideal if they are similar in nature. It can yield better results if you fully commit your reskilling and job search resources to one general area. Attempting to transition into multiple roles that require different skills could lead to more indecision and lesser qualifications for both options.
Once you’ve decided on the role, you can begin to bridge the gap between the skills you have and the skills you need to be qualified for your new career. Before committing to a new degree or certification which can be costly, investigate the industry and ask relevant questions to industry bodies before being convinced of a path that will not give you the credentials or accreditation’s the industry requires.
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Contact us for a chat and to find out what the requirements are to ensure you enter into a course that is going to tick not only all your boxes but that of the industry too.