How To Make A Career Change Less Terrifying With 11 Helpful Tips
When looking back at your degrees, years spent in the same office, and working up the same ladder, a change in industries can seem pretty risky. But if you've found a new calling, there are ways you can make a career change less terrifying. Moving onto different things doesn't have to seem like an irresponsible, crazy move. People have more than just one interest in life, and new experiences and years spent learning have a tendency to bring those passions closer to the surface. So if you feel like you can be happier, more challenged, and — most importantly — more fulfilled in a different industry altogether, start making moves to make that happen.
But here's the tricky part: You need to do it in a way that won't land you in the poor house or leave you spiraling into stressed-out breakdowns. You have to do it with a clear head and well thought out action steps. Keep this in mind — it's going to take time, and you should give yourself as much of it as you need in order to make the transition smooth and without regrets. Below are tips on just how to do that. Here are 11 ways to make your career transition less scary.
1. Begin By Changing One Thing At A Time
Instead of going from graphic designer to vet, take baby steps with your changes so they don't spiral out of control. Career writer Amanda Kreuser from career development site The Muse offered, "For example, you could look for a position similar to the one you already have but in an industry you’re more excited about. Or, you could explore opportunities at your current company to move into a different role — or even just add some new projects to your docket — that will allow you to do some of the work you envision moving toward." By taking your time with these changes, you give yourself the chance to see if this is what you truly want and allow yourself to build the proper experience.
2. Bone Up On It
Chances are you've never done a career change before and that's why it's so scary. Entrepreneur Nisa Chitakasem recommended to Career Builder, "Your fear of career change may well revolve around the fact that you’ve never changed careers before and don’t know what to expect, so read books and eBooks on what finding a new career entails." Being prepared for what ups and downs are coming your way will make you feel more in control and sure of your decision.
3. Shadow Different Careers
It's as easy as picking up the phone and asking if you could shadow someone in that particular field for a day. Career writer Richard Alderson at Career Shifters explained his experience, "I did a part-time journalism course. I loved it, but it wasn't for me as a career. I shadowed my friend who worked in PR for half a day. I did the same with a friend who worked as a Japanese yen bond trader in an investment bank. Fascinating as it was to get a glimpse into these different worlds, neither appealed." The more careers you try on, the closer you'll get to knowing if this is what you want to do for the next decade or so.
4. Try A Side Business Version First
Test the waters of your new career by first dipping a toe into it with a side business. Kreuser suggested, "Try testing the waters by starting something on the side. If it’s an e-commerce business, launch a simple version of it on an existing marketplace like Amazon or Etsy, and see if there’s a response. If it’s consulting, try taking on a few small clients that you can work with at night." That way you can see if it's truly a passion or just an idea you came up with because you're restless.
5. Spend Like You Work Part-Time
There's always a financial burden when you switch jobs, and there can be a chance of a pay cut in order to follow your dreams. So to make that possibility an easier pill to swallow, start spending like you work part-time. Lifestyle writer Ethan Crane from career development site Escape the City explained, "This has two purposes: to show us how we will need to live when we quit and no longer have that career salary; and to allow us to save a psychological pot of money." Knowing you have a comfy amount of savings stowed away makes the whole job-finding process less stressful.
6. Focus On Building Relationships
It might be hard to standout in a field you have virtually no experience in, so focus on making connections and relationships with people in that industry. Alderson explained, "I didn't get the job there through a formal application. I got it because I built relationships with people in the organisation. I did some pro-bono work, which led to consultancy work, which led to an interview for a full-time job." It might take time, but nobody goes into a career change thinking it'll be easy.
7. Plot Out Your Steps
Sit down one evening and make a Monica Gellar inspired master game plan, one that has detailed steps and deadlines for these to-dos. Career strategist Jenny Foss from The Muse offered, "Assign yourself daily or weekly tasks so that you know what, exactly, you’ll be doing when you sit down in front of your computer in the name of 'career pivot.' You don’t want to freewheel this." From courses you need to take to relationships you need to build, all your action steps need to be scheduled.
8. Prove That Hiring You Is Logical
There are going to be people with years more experience than you in your new field, so you need to prove to your employers that hiring you not only is logical, but a clear winning choice. Foss advised, "Nobody’s going to deduce how or why you 'may' make sense for any particular role or career path. Forget about it. Instead, you have to make it 'smack in the forehead obvious' on your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter — why you make perfect sense for the roles you’re applying for." Focus on proving that and you'll have a real shot in getting those roles you've been working towards.
9. Have Fun With It
Just because something is intimidating doesn't automatically mean it's not fun. Make the process enjoyable. Chitakasem recommended, "Have fun with your career change by taking interesting weekend classes and attending hands-on workshops to learn new skills that’ll look good on your CV. Play your favourite music in the background when you’re at home browsing the Internet for job vacancies or information on new careers." Remember, this is something you wanted. Enjoy the brave steps you're taking!
10. Follow Like Minded People
No matter your dream profession, there are already people out there doing it. Find them and learn and be inspired from them. Crane recommended, "Search out those pursuing the same work that you want to do on the internet, meet up with the groups they are part of, ask for help. Gangs form around shared passions, and become the best kind of friendships." Not only can you get tips on how they themselves started or transitioned, but hearing about their experiences, projects, and drive can inspire you to keep the course.
11. Kick Imposter Syndrome To The Curb
Whether you want to become a writer or quit your comfy office job to start a small business or teach abroad, you'll have a moment where you'll feel like an imposter. You'll step back and wonder why you think you have the right to try something so out of the box, and that those kinds of risks for other, braver, more talented people. Not you. Kick that feeling to the curb, because it's not true. Crane explained, "Imposter Syndrome has to just be ignored. You cannot prevent it, but neither does it have any bearing on whether the work you do is good or not." You have a right to try just as those that succeeded before you did. So keep on trying.
With these tips in mind, switching tracks completely won't be as scary as imagined!
Images: @abeautifulmess/ Instagram; Isla Murray/Bustle