Did you spend four (or more!) years learning about one topic, only to realize after graduation (or even years later), that you want to work in another industry? What do you do now?
Don’t worry! All is not lost. Here are some tips for what you can do next.
Assess What’s Really Going On In Your Current Career
Your career is like your marriage or long-term romantic partnership. Things can get stale after the initial glow wears off. Perhaps you just need to spice things up, or find your way back to the original excitement.
What made you decide to take the route you chose? It’s great to move on to something new, but first you owe it to yourself to get clear on the reasons you selected your major and pursued the position you went after. If you’re just leaping into the next phase without recognizing the roots of your struggle, you may be misdiagnosing what’s going on and not solving the real problem.
When you can put the reasons for your initial decisions on the table in front of you, you can decide if they’re still a strong reflection of you and your values. If they’re not a current reflection of you, then definitely strategize about moving on.
One more nuance to this segment of the process: if your original decision wasn’t right for you and you knew it then, take some time to heal and forgive yourself for selling out on yourself. If you’re using it as an opportunity to beat up on yourself, that just digs the hole deeper, and it takes longer to break that pattern.
Send Some Probes Into Your Targeted Realm
Before you turn your barge in a new direction, make sure you know what you’re getting into and spend the time to determine whether it’s a good fit for you. No matter how bad your current job is, you’re leaving something behind (even if it’s just familiarity, which can be a powerful force), so make sure the change will be worth it.
Exploratory techniques include:
Taking a free (hello, Coursera , edX, and other great sites!) or low investment course Attending a Meetup group or a professional organization (look these up on Weddle’s) Going to a conference or a bootcamp Setting up coffee dates with people who are in the positions you’re seeking Researching typical work days, tools used, and required education (O*Net Online is a good starting place) as well as target companies and salary range (use Glassdoor.comcom, and PayScale). Try out some jobs, either as a volunteer or a freelancer (Use Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, or others).
If you can dip your toe into the water before diving in, that’s going to give you an indication of whether you should keep going. You won’t get a complete picture from these options, but you’ll get a glimpse, and it’s important to listen to your own resonance as you collect data from these and other sources. Do you want to keep wading in, to continue to explore, or do you want to back away?
If you’re paralyzed with indecision, that’s a good spot to ask for input because we all get shut down by our fears, doubts, and uncertainties. Those demons are part of the process. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should kill the deal. It just means that you need more information, that you need to find the root of your hesitations, and then decide whether those roots are good enough reasons to deter you.
Create A Personal Marketing Plan
A Personal Marketing Plan comes before your resume in a job search. It’s a mechanism for getting focused and for directing your activities. You know how political candidates have a campaign manager? That’s the role that the Personal Marketing Plan fills for a job seeker. It orchestrates your every move, ensuring that you have a proactive process rather than a reactive one.
Your Personal Marketing Plan should include:
Desired job title, target job functions, and scope of the position you’re seeking Target companies, including generalities such as company attributes and geographic location, as well as specific company names Daily, weekly, and monthly goals, including specifics such as how many networking conversations you intend to have, how many submissions you plan to make, how many interviews you anticipate, whether you’re planning to work with recruiters or not
With this document steering your course, you’ll be in your new position in the new industry that you’re targeting faster than you expect.
Maggie Graham | Coach
Career coach Maggie Graham banishes Credential Gremlins in her forthcoming book Skip the Next Degree: Career Change without Debt and Despair. She points mid-career professionals in the direction of their next steps and defines a road map to take them there. Job seekers will find an ally when they seek support for landing their next positions.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock