There are so many paths that lead to the same destination – needing to rebuild your career from the ground up. For some, a catastrophic event comes along, such as an addiction, mental health issues, a death in the family or serious illness. It upends their life in a way that they could never have imagined, and means that any career dreams are firmly put on hold while they try desperately to navigate survival. For others, it’s nothing that dramatic. They fall into a job, life continues, and before they know it, one day they wake up feeling utterly stuck. They aren’t progressing, learning or developing. They don’t like the daily reality of what they do for work. But they feel hopelessly trapped. For still others, their feelings change as the workplace shifts. Perhaps they got into one career path with certain expectations that haven’t turned out to match up with the reality. Or they may have been stuck working for a boss who has belittled and undermined them, and be desperate for an escape. Whatever the circumstances behind the need for a change, sometimes we need to hit reset. Rebuilding your career from the ground up is a huge undertaking, and one that it’s very easy to feel daunted by. However, it is very possible to begin again – if you have a strong vision and a plan for how to get there. Change is possible for you, so put your mind to it and you can make a change, starting today…
Boost Your Confidence
A lot of feeling stuck and unable to make a change comes down to one factor – a lack of confidence. This can be especially acute if you have lived through an extremely negative experience, or even just if you haven’t made a move for a while. Over time, we lose faith in ourselves and our ability to change. So before diving into the job search side of things, try spending a little time working on yourself first. You can start of small. Challenge yourself to do something different. Ask for a stretch project or ask to shadow someone senior in your current job – just to open your eyes and make you feel that there are possibilities outside of your limitations. It doesn’t have to be at work either – look for local volunteering opportunities which can expose you to new people and environments and give you valuable new skills. Or pursue a passion project like starting a blog or joining a drama society – anything that makes a positive change in your life. Once you have some momentum going, it’s much easier to keep going and introduce bigger changes.
Begin With Minor Goals
Once you’re on a roll with confidence, then you can begin to set some small goals for your career progression. This doesn’t have to be difficult – start by booking to attend a professional conference, finding local networking events that you can attend or it can be extremely helpful to find a mentor – either someone at your current workplace, or someone within the industry that you’d love to operate in. Look at the transferable skills that you already have, and then check some job descriptions for the career you’d like to be in – what are the similarities? And what are the points of difference? Where could you develop? You could then look to do some soft skills development – like signing up to give a speech or a presentation and developing what you can do in that area. Ticking things off a list brings a sense of achievement that will serve you well when it comes to making job applications.
Consider Your Training Needs
Now it’s time to think about any practical barriers that lie in the way of making your career move. You may need a specific qualification in order to get into what you want to do. Think about how you could accommodate that – is it something you could do distance learning in? Or could you drop down to part time hours and find a course which offers part-time hours? Is night school an option for what you want to do? Bear in mind that you may need to save up for a while to be able to afford any of these courses – think in terms of a five year plan – what actions do you need to make now in order to be ready to start your dream job then? Research the best courses available near you – whether you want to find nursing schools or start a law correspondence course, make sure you understand the facts about exactly what that costs, how long it takes, and what it involves.
Make Some Connections
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know, and whether that holds true in your chosen career path or not, it’s always worth making connections in your chosen industry. Whether it’s for knowledge purposes or because you may hear about opportunities that would otherwise have passed you by, slowly building a network is an important step in transitioning to the career you want. Use a platform like LinkedIn Groups to join some discussions, and make your voice heard. From there, it will be easier to connect with others when you have a common ground. If you teach yourself how to network, you can start attending some events and use them as much as an opportunity to meet others as to learn about a particular topic. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for an entry-level position or a one as CEO, everybody needs to make connections in order to get where they want to go. Putting the effort in here is as much investing in your career path as undertaking a formal qualification, so give it equal attention and weighting in your mind. Many people automatically say that they aren’t good at networking, because it can sound a little daunting – but the truth is, networking is just about making a human connection – something you’ve been doing all your life. Be curious, ask questions, and really listen to the answer, and not only will you make a positive impression, but you’ll be on receive for valuable information that can help you later on your journey.
Think About Hiring Pain Points
So, you’ve put in the groundwork, spent some time building your knowledge, skills and experience – but how do you get a foot in the door and secure your first job in your new sector? This can often be the most challenging part, so knowing in advance what to expect and how to combat it can really help. Managers in charge of recruitment generally perceive candidates who are changing careers to be a greater risk than those who present with experience doing the same or similar job at another company. That’s just a fact – at the end of the day, the process of recruiting someone is expensive and managers are under pressure not to risk getting the decision wrong. Understanding this is key to trying to beat it. Address the fact head on during your application or interview. Draw out key terms from the role profile and show concrete examples of experience with that area. Frame the discussion in terms of what that company needs, what they might be missing that you, as someone from outside the sector, could bring to the table. Whether it’s a public institution with a need to become more commercial or an organisation undergoing a period of change, do your homework on the challenges facing that business and address how you could contribute to a solution – perhaps all the better for having fresh eyes and coming from a different background. Perhaps new thinking is exactly what they need. A quick look on the corporate section of their website should unearth a few pointers and maybe even a publicly-available strategy document that you can use to inform your approach. There are a couple of other tactics to use as well. If you’ve been networking diligently, try to get into the inner circle of your new industry. Being able to boast a personal recommendation learnt from a trade association buddy or contact made at a conference can make you much less of an unknown quantity and a risk in a hiring manager’s eyes. It may not get you the job on it’s own, but it should allow you to get a foot in the door and put you in slightly less of an unequal position relative to candidates with previous sector experience. Finally, think about building in time to do a part-time internship or volunteering in the field. This is an ideal way to gain relevant experience which you can package up with transferable skills in a strong offer to any employer. Additionally, it can win you the contacts and inside knowledge you need to gain interviews for a paid position.
It may take a little groundwork to get the position where you can gain your first opportunity – but it’s not impossible. If you’re prepared to put in some time, and show dedication, it’s entirely possible to start again in a whole new sector – and achieve every success while you are there.
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