A new year and a new decade have arrived. This is a moment that many of us use as an inflection point to take stock of our lives and determine if we’re happy with our current course or if a change is needed.
The main area we reflect upon at times of change is our career—our professional fulfillment factors heavily into our self-identity and overall happiness, so it makes sense that we want to do whatever it takes to get things right and steer ourselves onto the right path. It’s also one of those key life areas that we exercise a lot of control over: with a solid plan, some focus, and the requisite hard work and determination, we have the power to make significant changes in our career journeys. Even making a complete career reinvention is a possibility if it feels like the right move.
Are you contemplating a career reinvention in 2020? If your levels of professional happiness and satisfaction aren’t where you’d like them to be, and your future prospects are currently bleaker than you’d hoped, then a course correction just might be a wise strategy. But before diving in headfirst, consider utilizing the following plan of attack to help you make a successful career change.
Unlike other resolutions for change that many of us make at the onset of a new year like going to the gym or eating healthier, a commitment to making a career change shouldn’t be taken lightly—at least not if you truly want it to work out. The truth is, a career reinvention is significantly more challenging than waking up one day and deciding to hit the treadmill or not to eat junk food, especially if you’re looking to jump into a completely different field. If you’re sincere and determined to reinvent your career path this year, it’s going to take a real commitment of time, energy, and available resources to make it happen—especially if you stumble out of the block early on and encounter more failures than successes.
Remember, you’re chasing more than just a change in company or a loftier position with more responsibilities, which are challenging enough, especially in today’s volatile job market. If you want your career reinvention to ultimately end up in your personal win column, then make sure you’re fully committed from the onset.
Enthusiasm, energy, and motivation are great to have when you’re undertaking a new life challenge, but when it comes to one as big as a career reinvention, they’ll rarely be enough to get you past the finish line. Like most undertakings in life, success depends on having a plan. Once you fully commit to the notion that you’re going to kick off this new decade with a career reinvention, begin building your strategy for bringing this goal closer and closer to reality.
A helpful first step is to make two lists: a list of your interests and a list of your skills and abilities (these don’t have to just be skills you utilized at your current or former jobs; it can include abilities from all facets of your life). Don’t rush through these. It’s in your best interest to dive deep and create comprehensive lists rather than just getting them done quickly. Once these are complete, review them carefully and think about new career fields and positions that may encompass some (or all, in a perfect world) of your interests and skills. Then, make a new list of these.
Research can be extremely helpful when thinking about potential new careers, and here is where the Internet can be your best friend. There’s a wealth of information available about every imaginable career online. Just make sure you allow yourself enough time to sift through it all carefully and choose your sources wisely. If possible, ask trusted friends and family for feedback and advice to help you make decisions that are best for you. Once you have a shortlist, or a single target, start focusing your energy on learning everything you can about what it takes to enter the field and crafting your resume and cover letters accordingly.
When making a career change, the notion of transferable skills is essential—these are the skills you’ve acquired in your previous work experience that can be effectively applied to your new target career. When you’re on the job hunt and making a case for hiring personnel to take your desire for a career change seriously, demonstrating how your existing skillset can be utilized to their benefit can be a game-changer.
Another key step while embarking upon the first initial steps of your new career journey is to network effectively. Making a career change can be an uphill battle and the competition out there can be fierce, so you need to do everything you can to turn the tide to your favor—and getting to know people in your target industry can really help. Start by leveraging your existing network to see if it can expand to include new folks who are in your prospective field. Then think about additional resources that you may have access to, like alumni career services from your alma mater, to help in the effort. Go back online and look for any sites, forums, groups, or in-person events that you can use to expand your network. Be careful not to appear too desperate or overeager in your efforts here, which can turn people off, but do take things seriously and remember that persistence is key. With a little sincerity and effort, you may open new doors to wonderful new opportunities.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to hunting for a new job, focus is different from tunnel vision. If things aren’t quite working as well as you’d hoped or according to plan, then perhaps your plan needs fixing. A career reinvention can be a long and arduous journey, and it really pays to be patient and humble during the process.
Stay open to the notion that a course correction may be required along the way. Everything from your resumes and cover letters, to how and where you’re looking for job openings, to your interviewing approach and style should remain fair game for refining. Remember, no one is perfect and this is all about helping you achieve your goal, so be open to constructive criticism and positive change. Ask trusted friends and family members for input, and don’t be afraid to ask people that have interviewed you for feedback to help you move forward. The bottom line here is that when embarking on your career reinvention, envision it more of a marathon than a sprint and a process of trial and error that—if approached thoughtfully—can help you really learn and grow.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach to career reinvention, but these initial steps can really help get you moving in the right direction and make your job hunt more fruitful. With a solid plan and a clear goal in mind, you’ll definitely help tip the odds more in your favor.