The Dundalk Eagle

How to Make a Ca­reer Change

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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 In­ 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.

Pro­tect Your­self

The av­er­age job-search process takes slightly more than six weeks but that num­ber varies con­sid­er­ably by in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by 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.

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