Changing careers can be fun or a huge pain depending on your situation and your attitude. With more than one career change under my belt I’ve learned a few things about how to make the process a little less daunting. Here are five of my best tips for making a successful career transition.
1) Be patient, change takes time
I know that sounds like a no-brainer but I also know you are probably impatient to get your new career up and running. That drive will serve you well. But sometimes change happens more slowly than you would like and getting frustrated about it won’t help. You might feel stuck at times. Things may get a little messy. Just remember that it’s all part of the process. If you can be patient with yourself you will feel less stressed and be able to think more clearly. Pay attention to the narrative inside your head and clear any beliefs or stories that aren’t serving you. Keep taking action that moves you forwards. When you look back in 12 months you will honestly be amazed at what you have achieved.
2) Consider having a portfolio career
Are you a web designer who wants to become a marketing consultant? A writer who wants to teach? An accountant who aspires to be an online entrepreneur? There is nothing wrong with having a portfolio career while you transition (in fact you will be part of a growing trend if you do this). When you have a portfolio career you make income from multiple sources including part-time work, freelance assignments or a business. I’ve had a portfolio career throughout my transition from writer to coach and I can highly recommend it if you’re concerned with maintaining an income while you establish yourself in a new industry. This approach is especially suited to those who like variety or who identify as ‘multipotentialites’, aka people with many different interests who thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills.
3) Stay open to opportunities
In my experience job opportunities don’t always show up in the way you might expect, so it pays to keep an open mind. I know how easy it is to get fixated on a particular job opportunity or revenue stream and then get all down on yourself if it doesn’t work out. The trouble is when you focus on one option exclusively you close down all the other paths to getting what you want. It’s like having blinkers on. You just can’t get a 360 on the situation. Go after what you want but pay attention to what shows up in your world of its own accord. The universe works in mysterious ways.
4) Build your support network & get a mentor
This was one of the mistakes I made when I first set up my freelance writing business many years ago. I had no network built up and no mentor to guide me. This time around I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing and very generous people in the industry. Signing up for mentoring was hands down the best thing I’ve ever done. Friends and family can be a great support but you can’t put a price on having the advice of someone who already has the job you want. There are plenty of professional and industry associations that run mentoring programs. You could also try universities or contact someone within your network to see if they would be willing to mentor you.
5) Networking is the key to success
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘your network equals your net worth’, and this is even truer when you are changing careers. It’s never too early to start networking. This might mean meeting classmates you went to uni with, volunteering for a charity or joining an industry association. You could also head along to networking events or workshops (check out Meetup or Eventbrite). Or if you want to find contacts at specific companies and connect with recruiters, consider upgrading to a LinkedIn premium account (you get 30 days free before the charges kick in).
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Good luck and hang in there!
Have you changed careers? What did you learn from the experience?