Shifting careers is often hard to explain. Whether moving from one department to another in our own company or starting over in an entirely different field. The most important step in getting others onboard with your career transition is crafting a compelling narrative. It’s a tool often overlooked by “professional reinventers,” but it can be a critical determinant of success in winning others’ support for professional goals and vision for the future.
Basically career transition is the process of finding and moving into a new career. There is no set period of time for career transition, and no limit to the number of times one might decide to change. Interestingly, the transition period may start years before we consciously decide to make any change (maybe even the first day we began our current career!)
It can include daydreaming about something we would love to do, meeting people in careers that spark an interest. And it may continue all the way up to and even after starting our new career, when insecurities and self-doubts can still creep in. For some, it’s a fairly easy process and for others it can be painful on every level. But if the voice inside tells the result is worth it, we just keep going.
A transition could be precipitated by an external change. For example, one could be laid off from work (more of a change), which could motivate to step back from busy life and assess if it is time to think about pursuing a latent passion/dream or shifting our work focus to have more meaning or balance in life. A career transition from one type of job to another can be a chosen path or it can be like a Tsunami wave that seems to engulf everything in its path. In either case, the way a person navigates a career transition translates into the difference between amazing success and failure.
A few key points lead to success in this phase:
- Begin to take action.
- Visualize doing the final result, or in the final state.
- Take things step by step and recognize this is a process.
- Shift the purpose from trying to achieve a "goal" to living in the process, learning what we can, and making contacts where appropriate.
Career change is a thrilling and, for many, a daunting prospect. It often feels easier to keep a job we're unhappy with than to embark on a completely different path, especially in a shaky economy, especially if we happen to be our family's sole or primary breadwinner. Still, plenty of people -- including many women -- are leaping into the unknown, recession and all, and finding success. It’s also important to identify the underlying themes that connect our professional experiences, because people generally prefer narrative continuity: a story is “better” and makes more sense to them if they see it as a logical extension of the past, rather than a rupture. It’s vital to explain our trajectory in terms of the value we bring to others. Career transitions can sometimes be viewed as a sign of narcissism or a midlife crisis. “Wanting to be fulfilled” is nice, but it’s not a valid reason for others to hand us a job or give us their business. Instead, we need to make it clear it’s not about us; it’s about the value one can bring.
Changing jobs is challenging enough, but changing to a whole new career can be overwhelming. One of the biggest hurdles faced by those interested in a career change is how to make it a smooth and successful transition. A step-by-step guide to make the transition to your new career an easier one:
A vital first step in changing careers is to research about new career. Speak to people in the industry to gain a realistic insight in to the culture, conditions, opportunities and challenges.
As part of research one should identify any skills gaps, transferable skills and qualifications or certifications required. Find out what others in our chosen new career have done.
Develop a plan
A good career transition plan provides a blueprint for a successful change. Start by setting sights on the end career goal and map out the steps that will be needed to take to get there.
It's a good idea to join relevant professional associations, attend networking events, and develop connections with people and organisations in the new career area.
This is a great way to learn about potential employment and training opportunities.
Obtain skills and qualifications
One may need to gain new skills or certain qualifications to prepare for new career. If we are still working in our old job, and we hope to make a seamless transition to a new one, it will be necessary for to gain the required skills and qualifications before leaving.
A combination of qualifications and experience is more highly regarded than either options alone. Another way to gain experience is through volunteering or taking on short-term work contracts outside of the normal working hours or during holidays.
Make the leap
The time will come when there will be a need to make the final leap into the chosen new career.
Initially we might need to accept a lower income until we become established in the new field; although, in some cases, one might be lucky enough to move into a higher paying role straight away.
In our busy world it is difficult to make changes without planning. Buying a new house, new relationships and changing jobs. These times in our lives filled with stress and can be overwhelming. Without planning, they can seem impossible and may cause to make the wrong decision. Changing jobs is very stressful. Of course, maybe for some the advice not to change (and maybe see if we can make something better out of what we have) can be helpful. But also remember even the most practical bird in the hand can leave you with! Sometimes there’s no way to know for sure, except to begin the process. And that includes giving permission to explore as much as we have to – and also permission to fail and try again if needed. And if the sour economy has made someone afraid of changing jobs, don't let it. The recession provides a handy excuse, for those ruled by fear, to avoid trying something new. We can always use downside circumstances to keep us from exploring other opportunities. People find career change daunting even when the economy is booming. "There's always a good reason not to do it now."