The key to a successful career change

A lot of the people I speak to want to change careers but don’t believe it is possible because either they are too old, they don’t have the relevant experience or they believe that no one will hire them in their preferred field.

The truth is that it is only impossible because you believe it to be impossible.

I am not the type of person to sell false hope. I know that you can completely change careers, no matter how old you are, if you really want to. I won’t lie and tell you that it will be easy, sometimes it is but most of the time it takes commitment and perseverance.

The fact is if you are prepared to put in the effort, plan your change carefully and stick with it when times gets tough, then you can do it.


Get clarity on your ideal role

The first step in changing careers is to get clarity on your ideal. This means once you have identified the type of role you want you need to do a reality check on what it really entails. The purpose of this research is to do 3 things:

  1. Check whether the role is something that you really want to do
  2. Check what type of demand there is for that type of role
  3. Check the skills, qualification and experience requirements for the role

Looking at a single job advert won’t give you sufficient information, you need to research the role properly by looking at multiple adverts, Googling the role to see what others have to say about it and talk to people who actually do the role for a living. It is also worthwhile talking to recruiters to get their opinions on the demand and requirements for the role you are interested in.


Identify your transferrable skills

One of the main stumbling blocks people have is lack of relevant skills and experience. However if you really look closely at what you have done in the past, you will probably find that it isn’t all bad news. You do have transferrable skills even though they may be in a different field or industry.

What you need to do is make a list of the mandatory and desired skills most commonly required for the role. Then go through your entire work history and map your existing skills and experience to the job’s required skills. You will probably be quite surprised to learn that you have fewer gaps than you originally thought.


Plugging the gaps

Some outside the box thinking may be required to plug the skills and experience gaps. Maybe you will need to take a few courses, ask for additional tasks at work,or do volunteer work for charities. You may even be able to plug those gaps by interning during your vacation or finding a mentor and shadowing them for a few weeks. The point is to explore ways that are realistic for you.


Create the right CV or Resume

A chronological CV or Resume is not the best format to use when trying to change careers. You have to showcase your skills and prove that you are the right person for the job therefore use a functional CV or Resume format.


Be proactive

Lastly don’t sit around and wait for your ideal role to land in your lap. Be proactive. Actively network with people that can help you move into your ideal role. Speak with recruiters who are interested in helping you, talk to your friends and ex-colleagues who may be able to introduce you to others that can help you get into your desired field. Find ways to promote yourself and really commit yourself to changing careers.

As I said earlier, changing careers may not be easy but if you are committed and driven it certainly is possible.

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