Here Are Four tips To Get You Started!

co-written by Victoria Rayel and Randi Bussin

Sometimes making a career change can cause anxiety — a completely reasonable emotion! After internships, classes, and now full time work, it may feel like as though you haven’t landed on a career path.  How long will it take?  Will you ever find a career you enjoy? In truth you likely have 30-40 years left in your career, so to think that you will stay where you are now isn’t realistic. To underscore this further, Gallup shows data in a recent report that 21% of millennials have changed jobs within the past year, and are three times more likely than non-millennials to do so. No matter what led you to this moment, whether it be work monotony or lack of growth opportunities in your role, it’s worth taking a pause to find joy and contentment in your work.

Here are ideas to help with the transition:

1. Mindset matters.

Transitioning to a new career is all about mindset and motivation! Transitions don’t just happen; they are intentional choices made by the job seeker. Remind yourself that you don’t HAVE to change your career, you GET to. Changing that one word will make all the difference in your perspective.

workng on career change

2. Don’t quit your job while you’re still identifying your next move.

For some, an industry shift can lead to a more fulfilling career.   For example, perhaps you still like your job as a financial analyst, but instead of working at a software development company, you’re now looking at health food companies that better fit with your passions! Other times, a complete change in job function is in order. Perhaps your original role in client relations included a lot of presentations and project management, while now you’re exploring more analytical roles where you would use data to solve problems. Whatever your new goal is, the process will take some time, so don’t add the pressure of less income. Take time to reflect on what skills you want to use and which interesting problems exist in the world that you want to solve.

3. Develop your skill building strategy

In order to market yourself for a new position you need to understand your personal brand and create a resume that matches your career goal. This can happen through developing related technical skills, engaging in volunteer commitments that show interest in a particular cause, or joining professional groups to demonstrate an interest in your new industry. Resources like LinkedIn Learning and General Assembly can enhance your technical skills, and you should also consider joining a professional association. MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platforms such as EdX or Coursera are also a great way to learn new skills and pick up certifications that you can include on your LinkedIn profile and resume.

In keeping with the example above, if you wanted to switch from the software industry to consumer goods companies focused on healthy food production, you may want to join the Corporate Health and Wellness Association. Professional associations have their own job boards tailored to their industries, and there are also virtual and live networking events, webinars and other training, and a weekly newsletter that will keep you informed of top trends. Putting an association and relevant training on your resume will show hiring managers and recruiters your commitment to your new path. You may also want to consider looking to your current role to enhance your skills. For example, if you need more experience with Excel, ask for projects at work that will let you build that skill set!

4. Find the balance between focused and flexible when searching for jobs

In addition to considering full time positions, you may also be open to looking at remote, temporary, contract, temporary to permanent roles and project work.

This would allow you to build your experience while maintaining your full time job. Often, these gigs lead to repeat business and even opportunities for referrals to full time roles.  Essentially, your first job in your new ideal industry or function may not be a traditional one and that’s ok! Gig economy sites like Freelancer.com, Guru, Flexjobs, LinkedIn ProFinder and Fiverr are great online resources to get you started. Also, remember when you enter a new field, you may not be as competitive for mid-level roles, especially if you are shifting both job function and industry. For example, you may find a position you want to apply to that is more entry level than your current job, so you may have to decide if you are committed enough to the career change to go for that role. As long as you are staying focused on your career goal, it’s fine to show some flexibility on things like seniority level, title, salary, and location.

Don’t follow the crowd by just adding bullets to your resume and submitting random applications. If you don’t start to see results immediately, you could quickly get burnt out by the process, which will ultimately leave you feeling stuck. Instead, ask yourself, is this the job I want? Is this the kind of organization I want to work for? Taking the time to do an intentional shift will really make a meaningful difference as you embark on your new career change!

Another job search and networking tool to consider is Linkedin. When shifting careers, you can prepare multiple versions of your resume and position yourself in several ways. When it comes to LinkedIn, it is “one size fits all,” which makes it challenging to market yourself for different opportunities.

As the career changer, you need to make the connection for the employer between where you are now and where you want to go in the future. You need to sell your transferable skills and connect the dots for them.

Let’s take an example of one of Randi’s current clients: Alex Masters (I have his permission to use his name and LI profile). Alex has 3 years’ experience in the restaurant industry in customer service, training, and leadership roles.

Alex came to me because he wanted to leave the restaurant field, but really had no idea what he wanted to do. After many homework assignments and a few assessments, we narrowed down a few fields/roles that he could investigate. After several  informational interviews he decided to pursue human resources and aim for an HR Coordinator or HR Associate role.

If you look at his LI profile, especially the summary, you will see that we focused on his skills that would easily transfer into HR — coaching and mentoring younger staff, training, client service, etc. We couldn’t assume that an HR hiring manager will know that he had these skills from the restaurant industry. We had to draw out this experience and connect the dots for potential employers.

A few other things to note on his LI profile, that are particular to career changers:

  1. In the resume section/jobs section: call out transferable skills by using capitals.
  2. In the Skills section, we chose three top three skills (for which Alex would get endorsed) to spotlight for HR managers.
  3. Alex will next take his HR exam this month to option his certification. We will create a Certification section and include that on his profile. We will also update his summary to reflect his new certification credential.

When you’re looking to change job functions or industries, be sure to highlight transferable skills to hiring managers, leverage your LinkedIn profile to its fullest, and think of creative ways to expand your skillset. You have your age on your side — so use your time to find an opportunity that truly fulfills you.

Victoria Rayel is the Director of Undergraduate Career Management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and a Career Development Specialist in private practice. She works with professionals in their 20s and 30s in their career transitions. Vicky’s certifications include Certified Career Counselor (CCC) with NCDA, CPRW, MBTI, STRONG Interests Inventory, Skill Scan Career Driver and Reach360 Personal Branding.