The Dundalk Eagle
How to Make a Career Change
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many professionals searching for new roles. Some have been laid off or furloughed and are in need of a job.
Others may still be employed but are looking for an industry that is more stable or recession-resistant. Many others may be business owners or entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of unique loan programs put forth by the federal government. No matter what is driving the decision to potentially change careers, professionals can take comfort in knowing they are not alone. According to a 2019 Indeed.com survey, nearly half of the people they interviewed said they’ve made a dramatic career shift, like from marketing to engineering, or from teaching to finance.
What Drives a Career Change?
You might think money is the motivating factor for most people to change their careers. In fact, 58% of workers in the survey said they are willing to take a pay cut in order to completely change industries.
The No. 1 reason why people made a significant career change was because they were unhappy in their previous job sector, according to the survey.
No. 2: Higher pay and greater flexibility tied for the second-biggest reasons workers jumped into a new field.
Here’s the best news: The Indeed survey reports 88% of career changers say they’re happier since making the move.
Behind the Numbers
Here are some additional statistics from Payscale that shine a brighter light on the career-change phenomenon:
• The average person who switches careers is 39 years old.
• Pay growth for the average woman peaks at age 40; meanwhile, men’s salaries continue to grow until age 49.
• The average worker takes 11 months to consider a career change before making the move.
How to Switch Careers
The first step to making a successful career transition is understanding your goals. Think about what you like to do in your free time. Do you enjoy tinkering with small motors in the barn or working with numbers for a friend’s business?
Maybe you can translate your key interests and skills into a completely new career that you just haven’t had the time — or the courage — to go after.
Enroll in specific educational or training programs in order to make the transition. Especially with today’s technology, learning a new skill through virtual or online training is right at your fingertips.
Don’t forget to network. Talk with friends or family members who may work in your target field. Search for professional development opportunities or virtual conferences where you may be able to interact with experts from your desired industry.
Remember Your Goals
Switching careers can seem like a scary proposition if you’re not motivated to make it happen. Remember why you are considering the switch, whether it’s for more money, more happiness or more opportunity for growth. Keep that focus top of mind to make sure you’re doing all you can to stay dedicated to making the change. Find a role that offers you an opportunity to advance your learning and creativity skill sets. Without continuous improvement of your expertise, you’re likely to become stagnant and start to feel the pull to find something new.
The average job-search process takes slightly more than six weeks but that number varies considerably by industry, according to a report by Money.com. Can you financially weather a six-week layoff or furlough? This is a key question to ask yourself as you analyze your current vocational situation.
If the answer is no, it may make sense to keep your eye out for new potential job opportunities. Taking this approach can make sure you don’t miss out on prospective roles that fit your skill set, experience and passion.
Set Realistic Expectations
Since you are employed full-time now, you likely have various deadlines and projects on your plate that can keep you from entering a full-on job search. That’s OK. Give your current employer all of your efforts during the work day and devote early morning or after-hours to searching for something new. While you’re at it, give yourself some leeway as you try to balance your full-time work and your new search efforts. A new role is unlikely to fall in your lap right away, but the more you network and search digitally, the better your chances are of finding the right fit for you.
Use Former Employers as References
When it comes to making a strong first impression on a potential employer, thirdparty validation may be the key to your success. This means someone other than yourself is making an endorsement for you. Think about past peers and bosses when it comes to finding these validators. Hiring managers are generally comfortable with being given references from a previous employer, so compile a list of previous companies and supervisors to tack on to your resume. Be sure to give them a heads-up ahead of time so they know to expect a call.