If there has been one question I have received more than any other during the past few weeks it’s, How do I change careers? My answer: You don’t. Someone else has to do it for you! Why? Because changing careers requires networking. You need help.
Here are my five steps to career change.
First, don’t quit your day job. As difficult as it is to get a new job while unemployed, it is exponentially more difficult to change careers if not presently employed. It’s possible, just more difficult.
Second, research. Find out everything you can about your chosen new career. That way, when you start networking, the people in your chosen career will be impressed with your knowledge.
Third, look at the LinkedIn profiles of the people who have careers similar to the one you want. Pay special attention to their education. If they have a degree or certification that you will require, get it. When choosing the school or program you plan to attend, base the decision not so much on the quality of their classes but on the quality of their job placement services. Then, once you graduate, use them to find internships and, ultimately, jobs.
Fourth, join groups where you will be able to meet persons in your chosen career. Look for mentors. By “mentor” I mean someone who will help guide you in your new career for free. If they charge, they are consultants and you’ll pay a fortune for limited, if any, results. You want someone who will take you under their wings, so to speak, offer constructive criticism and introduce you to the right people.
And fifth, volunteer. It does not matter what the cause is, as long as you truly believe in it. What is most important is that you serve on a committee, or in a role, where your new skills will be utilized and, most importantly, seen by people in your new career or industry. That way they will be able to help you navigate their networks or, ideally, maybe even offer you a job, once they have personally seen the quality of your work.
In conclusion, career changing is not for the shy or the lazy. It takes help and it takes work.
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He is the author of Success! As Employee or Entrepreneur and A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting.