On average, people change jobs every 2.7 years. However, it’s even more interesting to note that the average worker will change careers 3-7 times during their life.
I’m sure you know people who have done just that—the engineer who became a calculus teacher, the accountant who now makes cupcakes, or the database administrator who currently does interior design. We all know people who have completely transformed their careers and their lives.
Your career is all about transition, and transition can be transformative as long as you remain agile, flexible, and adaptable. If you’re in the midst of such a transition, whether you are transitioning from one career to another or transitioning to something completely new, here are some things to consider:
We hear a lot about transferrable skills, but very little about how they transfer in practice. When you think about transferrable skills, consider your intangible skills like communication, analytic acumen, creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. They are often referred to as “soft skills.” However, these skills are essential, offering value across any industry and company. Identify your strengths in these areas and exploit them in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
How can your skills help within a new context? For example, if you’re a teacher looking to leave the profession and get into edtech, not only do you understand the education market, you also, and more importantly, spend all day breaking down complex information into something easily understandable. In and of itself, that is a REAL skill and one which is sorely lacking in business. Sometimes you have to reverse engineer things and think about them in a new way that will be relevant to your target.
Once you create your narrative in your mind, you need to package it for your audience in the form of a story. Everyone has a story. What makes yours unique and compelling? Highlight the exceptional value that promotes your story. Maintain brevity to ensure you can succinctly and clearly get your point across. I often tell people to do a self-assessment and take it to the market, meaning speak to peers, friends, subordinates, current and former supervisors to gain insight into both strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses are not “bad;” they are simply opportunities for improvement and change. The story you tell evolves just as you develop and grow as a person.
If you’re making a career change, something big is driving that. Is it a desire to spend more time with your family, to be able to embrace your passion through your work, or to do something that has an intrinsic, immeasurable value? Align your goals with your values. This will help to frame your narrative and help you narrow the playing field of positions you might pursue.
Are you too old to start something new? Of course you’re not! Do you have the contacts necessary to be successful? Yes! Are you credible? You’re an expert! Make sure the information you share with the world demonstrates your thought leadership. You can and should do this in your résumé and cover letter and, of course, on LinkedIn. Sharing information will raise your profile and help you engage with a broader audience, thereby serving as an opportunity for you to open new doors and build meaningful relationships to support your job search and career efforts.
Transitioning can be scary, and it will take some time. Nothing, though, is insurmountable. If you create a solid strategy with clear goals, you will find yourself in a new position where you are learning and advancing.