Perhaps you have been downsized in the latest banking or tech industry upheavals. Maybe you have decided your current job isn’t the right fit for you anymore. Regardless of the reason, it’s time to take action. So, how should you start your new endeavor? We have eight suggestions that may help.
- Set clear and achievable goals.
- Commit to continuous learning.
- Be adaptable.
- Make new connections.
- Take risks.
- Be resilient.
- Stay positive.
- Don’t wait.
Set clear and achievable goals.
Goal-setting may be the toughest part of your career development project. Someone else usually sets goals for us at our job. We have to set goals for ourselves when we are changing jobs or changing careers.
We have spoken to many jobseekers who have not articulated their goals. They wind up applying for “any job.” But employers, they quickly learn, do not have a role called “any job.” Instead, they have specific business opportunities to address and myriad problems to solve.
Goal setting may be relatively easy if you plan on staying in your current job function, and in the same industry. It will require more work when you want to change careers because you will need to do some research and self-assessment first.
A well-known proverb states “every journey begins with a single step.” Goal-setting should always be your first step in a job search or career change journey.
Commit to continuous learning.
Continuous learning, sometimes called lifelong learning, can be thought of as the individual worker’s version of an organizational process called continuous improvement. Learning can be devoted to a specific skill you need for your career (bookkeeping, programming, video editing) or towards staying sharp in general (learning a new language, pursuing a hobby).
A program of continuous learning is more important than ever for jobseekers today. Badges for LinkedIn Learning classes, for example, can add new keywords to your online profile. While short courses won’t carry the same weight with employers as college or professional degrees, they will demonstrate an interest in and awareness of new skills.
One of the biggest challenges to career change or job change is inertia. You’ve been doing things the same way for years, and you may be stuck. Be open to trying new things. Face the fear, feel it, and do it anyway.
A client once told me he worked for 30 years at the same bank and used the same banking systems for that entire time. Then, the jobseeker said he “would not learn new systems now.” This would probably mean that he would not find another job in banking, I told him. Months later he was still seeking employment.
Make new connections.
One of the best actions you can take for a job search or career change is to meet new people. If you’re opening new doors, connecting with like-minded people can help you access new opportunities. This isn’t limited to attending networking events and exchanging business cards. Look for specific meetups, consider a business networking group, join a professional association, or find a mentor.
LinkedIn is a great place to start. You can search for people you worked with in prior jobs, employees in companies you want to work at, and people who attended school with you. Then, you can arrange meetings with them in-person when they are local, or virtually when they are outside your commuting area.
Another reason job search and career change is challenging for many of us is that we are not risk-takers. Often, we feel unable to take career risks because of family and other commitments.
Nonetheless, be willing to make brave decisions. Analyze the situation, devise a plan, and then take action. Don’t make spur-of-the-moment decisions, but don’t get stuck in analysis/paralysis either.
Job change comes with new challenges, and you must be resilient. You will face problems. Find a way to fix them or work around them. Find solutions. Don’t give up.
Most of us have had a job change or career change that did not work out. We learned from the experience and got a better job when we tried again. The jobs I disliked the most were also among the jobs I learned the most from. That does not mean you have to accept, or remain at, a job you hate or do not perform well. It just means you can learn from the experience and move on.
Cultivate a positive mindset. Jobseekers we have worked with have found it helpful to write out their accomplishments—the problems or opportunities they have addressed through specific actions to yield results for their employers.
For example, a client we worked with recently realized that, despite complaints from the leadership team at his last job, he had met or exceeded every goal assigned to him while leading a team of four staff members. Now, he had a positive story to tell at interviews and began receiving job offers.
Everyone wants to work with upbeat people, so being positive will increase your chances for success in your job search.
Don’t sit around hoping opportunities will find you — seek them out. No one is going to do the work for you. Career management coaches can ask you the right questions. Writers can prepare resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and letters for you. But ultimately, you need to take action. No doubt, you have heard the expression “hope is not a plan.” And, you have to believe in yourself. There is no better time than right now to start your career change.