Our societal and educational model has us deciding what we want to do for the rest of our life at such a young age. We pick a University major as young as our teen years and spend years honing the specific skills for that industry or occupation. The fact is though that people change— our belief system, our desires, our interests, our lifestyle. What was once a dream job, may not seem like the right fit anymore. If you find yourself in this scenario, know that you are not alone.
The idea of starting a new career trajectory after establishing ourselves in our first career can feel daunting. These are our tips for how you can transition seamlessly from one career to another.
Assess Your Interests and Passions
You may already know the new career path you are interested in and if so, that’s great! You have already completed step one. However, if you find yourself in the position of feeling burnt out in your current role and seeking a new challenge. If that is the case, it’s time to do some soul searching. This part can be so exciting because you get to imagine yourself in different roles and explore how that feels, the world is your oyster. Here are some things you can consider:
1. What do you like about your current role?
2. What skills do you excel in?
3. What do you spend most of your free time thinking about?
4. What gets you excited?
5. What do you not like about your current role?
I recommend getting creative on this journey — chat with friends about their jobs, make a mood, or vision board of what you want your career and professional life to look like, make lists and do lots of research in this stage. Our ‘Get Hired in Your Dream Job’ Workbook would be an ideal resource to assist you in navigating this process.”
Focus on Transferable Skills
Depending on your current role and your new career, there may already be some skills you can transfer over. Look at the job postings for the role you want and look through the desired skills. What can you take from your previous experience to apply to this role? Consider how you can adapt previous experience and apply it to the new position, highlight this in your applications and interviews as you seek employment in your new industry.
Show What You Can Do. Don’t Rely on Words.
When applying for a position in a different industry, provide tangible examples of your work that closely align with the role’s requirements or even take the initiative to create new, relevant work samples specifically for this job. Include a portfolio that showcases your capabilities. Let your work speak volumes and leave a lasting impression on potential employers.
Upgrade Your Skills
Depending on how similar the industries are that you are transferring between and the specific roles you are transferring between, you may be required to upgrade your skill set. The most common way to do this is through formal education through a college, or university, though depending on your new industry that may not be necessary. In our modern world we are blessed with so much opportunity to learn and acquire new skills, beyond traditional (and expensive) institutions. For example, you can explore information online through YouTube tutorials, affordable classes and courses offered through organizations (i.e. Google Analytics, Adobe Certifications, MasterClass) and more. There is no shortage of opportunities to expand your horizons and your qualifications.
Consider Volunteering and/or Interning
A great way to get practical experience is to make yourself available to volunteer, or work as an intern. Note, most intern positions will be open only to those enrolled in a course. Volunteering however is a wonderful way to give back to your community, while building your network and expanding your knowledge and expertise in an area you are passionate about. Try reaching out to organizations you admire and let them know you are interested in learning more about what they do and hoping to pursue a career and make yourself available to volunteer your time to help out where needed.
Your network can be a huge asset when you are looking to enter a new industry. Consider first who you already know in the industry. Those connections can potentially offer advice, know of organizations who are hiring, introduce you to new contacts, or even (if you’re lucky) have a position open that works for you. You can also reach out to people in your network who are not in the industry can still be of value.
The great thing about a network is that it works like a web, your connections may have connections in the industry in question and can help foster new connections. Reaching out to your network will take some vulnerability and there may be some discomfort in the process, but remember, nothing worth doing is easy. Consider posting to your LinkedIn about your journey, your goals and letting your network know you are available. People respond to vulnerability, it is a common human experience.
Find a Mentor
If you have someone you know in the industry who you trust and respect you can reach out to them about mentorship. A mentor is someone who has the experience and skills that you are hoping to gain who can help offer advice and guidance on your exciting new career path.
Come to Terms with Starting at the Bottom
If you are transferring to an industry that is wildly different from the one you started in, with a whole new skillset, you may find yourself having to start from the bottom and work your way back up to the pay grade and level you had achieved in your first industry. While this may feel disheartening, it is one of the sacrifices you may need to make in order to fulfill your new dream. Preparing yourself for this reality can help set expectations. Knowing this possibility can also offer you time to set aside some money to be in a good place financially if you do need to take initial roles that are below the income you have become accustomed to.
For those of you who are considering changing industries, as well as those who have already embarked on that journey, this is an incredibly exciting endeavour. Though it will require hard work and ambition, if your true passion lies on the other side then it will be one hundred percent worth the struggle. And don’t forget, we’re here to help!
Regardless of where you are on your journey to transition industries, Style Nine to Five founder Christie Lohr has advice and tools to help you succeed. Get your Resume Refresh, Christie will pull out transferable skills and take your resume to the next level and help you break into the industry you’ve been dreaming of.
Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.