Looking To Make a Career Change? Here Are 5 Tips to Help You Navigate the Process
Over the years I have listened to successful senior leaders reflect on their career paths and noticed one very common thread. In the moment their paths do not always seem clear, linear or to even make sense, but in reflection, each step created a building block to get them where they arrived today. If you told me 7 years ago that I would be working at my third company in a second career, I would have thought you were crazy. But here I am, and it does not feel as radical as it sounds. Here are five tips to help you start navigating a career change.
- Start with self-assessment
Before you can begin to formulate your next career move, it is helpful to first ask yourself some questions. What part of my job makes me most excited? What do I dread working on in my current role? Am I learning new skills and industry knowledge? Do I want to be at a large/mid-size/small company? Do I want to work with external clients vs. internal teams? Your answers to these questions begin to build your personal profile. Your profile is a living and breathing list that will always be changing, but it is a step in changing careers that should not be missed.
- Talk to family, friends, alums, the random person you meet in line at the coffee shop
With your personal profile in mind you can now start productive conversations about a career change. Try to find people in your network who have made a career change, who are in your current industry or the industry you are hoping to move towards. These conversations will be helpful in three ways:
- You will gain a number of different perspectives that you may not have considered in your own personal assessment.
- The idea in your head is now real! Your close network will know you want to make a change and start thinking about you when they hear about new roles.
- These conversations will be the first time you are verbalizing your idea for a career move. As you continue to speak with your network, your idea will begin to crystallize into a strategic plan.
- Skills are transferrable
With the support of your personal profile and network, you are now ready to start looking at new roles to make the change. As you explore, you may find yourself growing discouraged by years of experience and skills requirements specified in job descriptions – but you shouldn’t be. You come with a whole set of previous experiences and capabilities, and odds are your skills are more transferrable than you think! Take a couple of minutes to strip away the specifics of your current role and think about your core skills. Do you work with a number of different teams? Are you an excel expert? What is your communication style with internal and external clients? Do you have leadership experience in college or an informal mentoring program for new hires? If you are struggling to focus on your core skills, reach out to your network. You may not realize that you are an excellent communicator until someone points it out to you.
- Your resume is dynamic
Your resume is the first impression you are offering a potential employer. It is the best tool you have to showcase your skills, your background and your intent for wanting this specific position prior to an interview. That said, your resume should be a dynamic document. Tailor your resume to each role, company and industry that you are exploring. Taking the extra time to customize your resume will show your dedication to researching the position, while also highlighting how your skills translate. Lastly, consider including an objective, which can help frame your experience for the potential employer to understand that you want a career change.
- WWED – What Would Emerson Do?
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” A career change is scary, but also exciting. Don’t be afraid to show your passion for your new career. Career changes take a lot of time, thought and energy. Sharing your personal journey to a potential employer shows your dedication, interest and enthusiasm for the new road ahead.
About the Author: Clare joined AppNexus as a Recruiter in March 2015. She supports hiring for our Services, Legal, Finance and Operations teams. After graduating from Williams College, Clare started her career as a planner in the fashion industry before changing her career path to recruiting. When not hiring the top talent for AppNexus, Clare loves morning runs, iced coffee and spending time at the Jersey Shore.