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This story originally appeared on DollarSprout.
Whether you're looking to earn more, your work goals have changed, or your boss isn't great, you might want to switch careers.
According to a survey by Indeed.com, roughly half of adults have made a dramatic career change at some point in their lives.
However, starting a new career right away can cost time, money, and energy – for a new role that may not fit well. If you are interested in changing your career it is best to create a plan of action first.
Many people know they hate their job but aren't sure why or how they can improve their working life. You could also expect their careers to change overnight.
"A typical job search within the same professional field can take months," says Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs. "But a career change to something completely different can take a lot longer."
The process starts with figuring out why you need a change and what the risks are. Knowing exactly what you need will help you find the right fit.
Here is how.
Start with a career quiz.
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Online career quiz questions like the Princeton Review Career Quiz guide you through a series of questions, measuring your interests and personality. Each quiz has its own algorithm, so you will get slightly different answers for each quiz. However, they can serve as a starting point to alert you to a particular industry, provide a list of jobs, and explain why they are a good fit for you.
Some even describe the education and starting salary to help you make a more informed decision about changing careers.
Update your skills and intentions on LinkedIn.
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Recruiters often use LinkedIn to find applicants. So if you have a well-developed profile on this professional networking site, you can have an interview in your new area.
Danisha Martin, Senior Search Consultant at Nonprofit HR, offers the following tips for updating your LinkedIn profile:
- Ask for recommendations. Whether they come from colleagues, managers, or clients, these should highlight your potential for transitioning into a career. Ask them to highlight your transferable skills, coaching skills, and adaptability.
- Use keywords linked to your new career. Recruiters use keywords to search for candidates. So add them to your profile. Personalize it with your voice, especially the summary paragraph.
- Include volunteering and part-time jobs. These are easy ways to gain experience in your new field. List these opportunities in your profile and in the skills you have developed.
When you've improved your profile, you can connect with others by joining groups, participating in discussions, and posting articles.
Volunteer or work part time.
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If you're just not ready to fully embark on a new career, try the water with a temping agency or through volunteering, job shadowing, or part-time work.
This is a great way to “do a controlled test before you step in,” says Kathy Robinson, founder of TurningPoint, a company that provides career advice.
Websites like VolunteerMatch and FlexJobs can help you find these new opportunities. Use this time to learn all about the industry, network, and invite people to exploratory interviews. Working side by side with someone gives you an opportunity to really judge whether what they do for work matters to you, says Martin.
Take into account the educational and training requirements.
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Gaps in your skills can make it difficult to embark on a new career. Keep yourself up to date by making a list of the skills you already have, the skills you need, and any requirements for the new role.
"There are some areas where short online training and certification courses are great," says Reynolds. “For others, they may need a new degree. Talk to the staff in the new area through informational interviews to find out what is recommended. "
Also, find out about the costs involved and whether you qualify for any scholarships that could help offset the cost of any courses, certifications, or training. "If the COVID-19 situation works well, it will be the increase in online training available," says Anna Huffman, director of human resources for the National Federation of Independent Business. "The availability of resources has increased and costs in some areas have decreased."
Research your interests.
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Whether you enjoy cooking, writing, or caring for animals, there is likely a way to turn your hobby into a job. "If people can turn their hobbies into their careers, they'll never work a day in their life," says Renee Frey, recruiting expert, speaker, and author of "I Hate Mondays: A Guide to Landing a Job That Makes You Jump." Out of bed. "
The career quiz you used at the beginning of your research can align you with a new industry while your interests, personality, and goals can lead you to a specific role. If you are consistent with the medical field and have a tendency to keep calm under pressure and enjoy helping people, a career in nursing can be a good fit.
Here are a few ways your interests can guide your career research:
- Think back to your childhood dream job. Did you tell everyone that you wanted to be a veterinarian, an actor or a writer? By remembering these goals, you may be able to find out what you are still passionate about.
- Take money out of the equation. If you didn't need to make an income, would you start a charity, volunteer for children or animals, or travel? Think about how you can monetize these passions.
- Think about what you are really good at. Perhaps you are a great cook, a skilled woodworker, or an advanced yogi. How can you start a career with these skills?
As you think through these questions, write them down in a notebook or Google Doc. Take some time to ponder your answers and consider which career would suit you best.
Build relationships in your desired industry.
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Networking and relationship building are critical to the success of your new career.
"The # 1 way people get work is through who they know," says Frey. "It's easier to switch to a completely different career when people know you and can vouch for you."
While face-to-face conferences and networking events are usually the best way to build relationships, there are ways to network virtually that are just as effective:
- Connect with successful people in your new career using LinkedIn.
- Do an informational interview via video chat.
- Take part in virtual meet-ups.
- Take part in virtual conferences and webinars.
Once you've made connections and let people know that you want to change your career, colleagues in your new industry may be able to help you find a new role.
Hire a career advisor.
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A career counselor can help you find good career opportunities, come up with a plan of action, and even introduce you to others in the new industry. However, they can charge a fee for their services.
If you want to go the free route, find someone who has successfully made a career change and allow some time to speak to them. They can give you an idea of what it takes to switch.
You can also contact your college's Career Services Center or alumni network for assistance.
Once you've made your career choices, you're ready to begin your action plan. Follow the steps below.
1. Start by building skills.
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Now is the time to develop the skills you researched at the beginning of your quest. You may need to take a course, complete an online certification, or earn a degree. Ask your current manager for stretch assignments that purposely challenge projects beyond your current skills in order to develop skills that may be carried over to your new career.
You can also develop these skills while working part-time, which “actually leads to experiences that are relevant to your new area of expertise,” says Reynolds.
2. Create a new resume.
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It is important to have your resume highlighted so that you can interview and get the job you want.
"Executive and recruiter hires only come in the top quarter of the first page of your resume," says Frey. "In seven seconds you will make a decision whether to read your résumé or to throw it in the trash."
3. Start your job search.
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Take advantage of the contacts you've made through networking, volunteering, and researching your new industry.
"Contact your network to find contacts currently working in the new area," says Robinson. "Ask for guidance and connections they want to share." Your company may also have an opening that suits you perfectly.
Start by researching companies, learning about the culture and thinking about whether you fit in with it. Martin suggests identifying your top 25 companies and looking for open roles. Write a cover letter tailored for each position and submit your applications with your letter and resume.
To keep track of your job search and make yourself a better interviewee, Martin suggests keeping a table of your application documents and adding notes about your interviews and any feedback.
4. Schedule job interviews.
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It's exciting when your resume gets noticed and you get a call to schedule an interview. In this meeting you can talk about your experiences and show why you are a good fit for the company and the role, even if you have no previous industry experience.
"Create a short story about why you are changing your career that shows your enthusiasm and energy for your new area of expertise," suggests Reynolds.
Here are some ways to prepare for an interview in your new career:
- Find out about the mission and goals of the organization you are applying to.
- Prepare relevant questions that show you understand the new industry.
- List your experiences in the new industry, which may include volunteering and part-time jobs.
- List transferable skills from previous roles that you can use in the new industry.
You should also prepare the items that you will bring with you to the interview. You should then send a thank you letter, ask for feedback, and use the advice in the future.
5. Negotiate your new salary and benefits.
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You might feel like starting a job in a new career means a wage cut, but it doesn't have to be. You can negotiate a good salary with a little preparation.
You can use sites like Glassdoor and Payscale to find out the average salary for your new position. Use this information in conjunction with your previous experience to negotiate a fair salary.
Also, think about what would make you happy in the new job. You might be ready to take a wage cut if the new role allows you to find work-life balance, offers more benefits, or offers training and opportunities for salary growth.
6. Enter your resignation at work.
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Most companies want to keep top talent. So give your employer a chance to keep you on board, suggests Huffman. Your organization may have the opportunity to promote you to a new position, transfer you to a new department, or increase your responsibilities and salaries.
But once you've made up your mind, make sure you leave the job on good terms. Give at least two weeks notice and let your manager know that you are stepping down to pursue a personal passion.
"Don't talk negatively about your experience," says Frey. “Keep everything positive. You never know when your paths will cross again. "
Find a career that you enjoy.
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Switching careers can be a great way to fulfill a dream or break out of your rut. Use this list as a starting point to figure out what career you want and how to get there. A good plan can help you tailor your career path to align with your passion, says Robinson.
"It's like a tailored suit instead of taking something off the shelf and never really like how you feel in it," she says. "The thinking is: the more you like what you do, the more reward you get."
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