Ready for a change — a really big one? If a completely different career field, industry, or job position is calling your name, don’t be afraid to go after it. But do be prepared to work hard and make some sacrifices to finally score the job of your dreams. Here are eight actionable tips to help you make a successful career pivot:
- Start making your pivot now. The longer you stay in a certain field, the harder it becomes to leave. You build a valuable knowledge base that helps you rise through the ranks, and those promotions and raises along the way will often convince you to stay “just one more year.” It’s never to late to make a career pivot, but if you’re certain that there’s a better industry or position for you, start planning how to make the change now.
- Do your research. If you want to get hired in a new field, you’ve got to know what’s going on in that field. Follow leaders in the industry on Twitter, subscribe to industry newsletters, and spend your spare time reading related blogs. Building up your knowledge base about the new industry will also help you truly determine if the new field is the best fit for you.
- Talk to people currently in the field. No matter how many blog posts you read or tweets you fave, internet research is just no substitute for talking with real, live people currently working in the field. Cultivate industry contacts and ask them what their jobs are really like — the good, the bad, and the ugly. A good place to start is looking through your college’s alumni database, and reaching out to contacts to see if they’d be willing to chat on the phone, or grab a coffee with you if they’re in town. Make sure you make it clear that you’re just after an informational interview, and not a job from them (asking a stranger for a job is just plain annoying).
- Snag an internship. No, internships aren’t just for undergrads! Having an internship on your resume that’s otherwise filled with positions unrelated to the industry you’re trying to break into will certainly give you a leg up. If you’re still working full time, consider a virtual internship that you can complete after hours.
- Rebrand your strengths and experiences. On paper, it may look like you have no experience related to the new field you want to venture into — but chances are you have plenty of skills that will be valuable in that field. You just have to spin your skills the right way. For example, if you want to move from PR to project management, emphasize how well you managed lists of journalists and industry contacts for each new PR launch for your clients. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to highlight your transferrable skills.
- Leverage your network. Reach out to a few key contacts that you trust (especially if you’re still in your old job and need to be discreet) and let them know you’re trying to make a transition. You never know who they may know! And a personal introduction will go a long way in making a good first impression on a potential employer, especially if you don’t have the same experience as others applying for the job opening.
- Manage your expectations. Even though you have years of job experience under your belt, there’s a good chance you’ll have to start at entry level all over again when you pivot careers. Be prepared for a dock in pay and title (and start building up your savings now to make the career transition a little easier on your wallet).
- Make a to-do list — and stick to it. No bones about it, making a career pivot is a difficult process. Make a to-do list of your action plan items — with “due dates” for each item — to keep yourself on track. If you’ve already got a pretty cushy job, it becomes that much harder to push yourself to make a change. Writing down what needs to be done will make it that much easier to make the change.
Have you made a successful career pivot already? Share your tips for a smooth transition in the comments below!