Changing Your Career Direction? Follow These Tips

Today, most people don’t expect to stay in the same job for life. Most millennials change jobs every five years, and younger generations do so even more frequently.

While career changes are becoming the norm rather than the exception, making a big transition can still be intimidating. With the right guidance, however, your career change can go smoothly.

Maybe you’re wondering, “How do I match my qualifications to a job? How can I find a career that will truly be fulfilling and meaningful for me?” or “How can I get my foot in the door in a new field?” We will examine the answers to these questions and more below.

Chart a Journey of Self-Discovery

If you’re feeling like you’re stuck in a career rut, you might have a good idea of what you’d like to do instead—or you might not. If the latter is true in your case, some introspection is in order to determine what field you should explore next. Ask yourself:

  • What are my passions? What am I most interested in?
  • What am I naturally good at? What types of work energize me, allowing me to get lost in them?
  • What type of work environment and company culture would I like to be a part of?
  • What are my dealbreakers? What job aspects would be absolutely non-negotiable for me?

Once you have answered these questions, make a list of three to five possible paths that would be a good fit. There may not be a job that satisfies all of the qualifications listed above, but you can likely think of several that would satisfy several of them. Next, we will discuss research that can help you in this process.

Expand Your Horizons With Research

When entering a new role, it’s often been said that “You don’t know what you don’t know.” To reach the next level of ‘knowing what you don’t know,’ you will need to engage in a little research.

First, do an online search to see what might be available. Search by field and by role. Maybe even search based on a degree or certification you hold, or a unique skill you have. Industries are ever-evolving, and there may be well-fitted opportunities out that you haven’t been aware of before.

Once you’ve narrowed things down, do more extensive research on your shortlist. You could:

  • Take a class
  • Attend an event
  • Network
  • Shadow a professional
  • Volunteer or intern

We’ll talk more about networking in the next section.

Know and Become Known

Networking is important for several reasons. As mentioned above, it can be a means of learning—when you know someone in a field or role you’re interested in, you can ask them questions or even shadow them.

Networking also opens up opportunities for job offers. If you connect with individuals at a company of interest on LinkedIn, for example, you may be more likely to see or hear about a job opening. Word-of-mouth recommendations could move your job application to the top of the stack.

The ultimate benefit of networking is when a recruiter comes looking for you. When you interact with other professionals online or at industry and networking events, you also become known to them. When they are aware of your interests and qualifications, they may find it easier to seek you out than to sort through hundreds of applicants.

One way to get noticed is to demonstrate some expertise in your field. We’ll cover that topic next.

Gain Traction as an Expert

Publishing informative, accurate material on a topic is one of the best ways to gain expert status in that field. To do so, you can start a blog, write articles for journals or websites, or self-publish a how-to book using a service like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Don’t forget to list these in the Publications section on your resume and your LinkedIn profile.

You may also choose to publish brief informational videos on social media services like Instagram or YouTube. If your posts generate enough interest and gain enough followers, you may receive requests for speaking engagements at industry events or even job offers from recruiters, as mentioned above.

What, though, if you realize there are gaps in your expertise?

Build New Skills

As you learn about the possibilities and share your expertise with others, you may realize that you are lacking certain essential skills. Don’t worry! Upskilling is not hard to do.

First, identify the skill or skills you need. You may do this by comparing your skill set to those required in a job posting. Then, determine how to gain the skill. You might be able to do so by watching videos, reading books or articles, attending a workshop, taking an online class, or working hands-on with another skilled professional.

Key Takeaways

Career changes are a way of life in today’s economy. When you make a change, you can find fulfillment by identifying your passions, making connections, learning new things, and sharing them with others. It might take you on an unexpected yet fulfilling new path in life!