Changing careers can be challenging.
But, a good percentage of my clients are looking for a change in direction, which inspired me to write this piece. To be successful in changing careers, let’s get philosophical and start by defining terms, what is career change?
In theory, it means when someone decides to change either their industry or function.
To me, it also implies moving to a different country and retiring from the military. In summary, it integrates two things: a) anything that requires “translating or transferring” the skills that you already have into a new setting or b) using newly acquired skills into a setting that is already familiar to you.
The Story of Sam
Sam was a very successful international politician and UN officer, with ten years of experience in the public sector. He got to open the first embassy of his country abroad. A fascinating person who I have been lucky to work with, and with the exception of the first time I read his resume and heard his career goals, I honestly doubted I could help. He wanted to leave the public life and start to work for the financial sector in NY.
He made it in approximately three months, which is record time for anybody making a career change, regardless of their background. The secret of his success?
Simple. He had two things for his career change:
- Knowledge of the area he was going back into because he had been an investor banking for 15 before going into politics, and
- The contacts due to his political career.
The Story of Marie
Marie was a production line engineer for one of the biggest consumer product companies in the world. When she first approached me, she was having a career crisis; although she liked engineering, she wanted to do something more creative like packaging design or marketing. The origin of the crisis came from an MBA she was studying at the time, so the academic part was there.
We worked together on a functional resume, which highlighted her accomplishments based on her skills rather than on her chronological experience and it worked! She got a regional position for the competition as a member of the marketing/packaging team. After that, she continued to specialize in marketing and her career has only skyrocketed from there.
She clearly did two things:
- Adapted her job search technique to her career change goal
- Acquired/learned new skills.
The Story of George
George was an entrepreneur who told me over and over again he needed to come back to work. When I asked why, he said it was mainly due to financial reasons. This is very common, but it does not always work, and I will explain why.
In the career world, there are usually two types of people, the ones that prefer to be employed by and work for other people and entrepreneurs. None is better than the other, these are simply two routes. People who prefer to be employed tend to look for “security” in their lives while entrepreneurs enjoy taking risks.
When a risk taker gets employed, he/she can easily get bored and leave the job, therefore, becoming extremely unstable. When someone who has a tendency to be a security lover tries a business, he/she could fail because they might not be able to take the risks needed to make the business work. This is a major aspect to take into consideration when it comes to considering a career change.
There are tests that will help you determine whether your personality is more entrepreneurial or not. My favorite one is the Myers-Briggs.
The Story of Julio
Julio was executive moving from Latin America to the US. Julio needed not only to know the job market but also to translate every aspect of his career, so it was understandable in this new market. Although his background was in finance and he had over 25 years of experience, he needed to learn and upgrade his skills to the country of destination, ensure he knew the terminology in the target language and learn all the search methods in his target country.
Julio was able to enter the job market after six months, in a more junior position than he had previously. This is a really for many people who come from abroad, but it is OK. You need to take advantage of that open door.
Summarizing, the things you want to have in mind when changing careers are:
- Have a strong network to be successful in finding the right opportunity.
- Go for retraining or additional education in the area of expertise you are targeting.
- Adapt your search strategy to be more successful, and you will need to invest extra time during your search.
- Know your personality tendencies, are you more of a risk taker or do you prefer to keep your salary coming securely in every two weeks?
- Sometimes you will have to accept a lower level position. It is OK and normal. Take it.
- If you are migrating from a different country or you are immigrating to a different country, do you know everything you need to know to be successful?
5 Traits That Every Must Master For Career Success
In a perfect world things would play out like a movie. You start out as a partner in the corner office with an amazing view and employees who worship you.
But there’s a reason these plots only exist in Hollywood.
They’re a fantasy. The fact is that hardly anyone starts at the top (or even in their own office) without putting in serious grunt work at the bottom.
Once you realize that success comes with time, you’ll stop pressuring yourself with unrealistic expectations and put in the hard work necessary for each step of your career journey.
And when you hit your peak, the lessons you learn along the way will help you to continually reach new heights.
Let me warn you in advance: You will experience failure during your career.
Your work will get rejected. You will get a bad review. You may even get fired. You must be able to dust yourself off, self-reflect and bounce back stronger than ever.
And when failure’s got you down? Just channel the perseverance and resilience of Steve Jobs.
When one of his products was failing, he was quite publicly fired from his own company.
But he didn’t give up.
He created an entirely new tech company called NeXT that merged with Apple. And he later became Apple CEO. Under his leadership the iPod, iPhone and iPad were born.
Can you even imagine technology today if he had given up?
When you look at failures as an opportunity to learn and grow you will produce better work and succeed in the future.
Immobility may be due to lack of better opportunities. This trend brings about a problem since job transitions aid in salary growth.
So before thinking you have to commit to a company just because it’s the “right thing to do”, think again.
You should always stay fiercely loyal to yourself even if it does mean making moves to better opportunities.
How can you practice self-loyalty?
Always stay committed to your vision when weighing career decisions. Be passionate about your purpose and devote all of your energy to self growth. Look for ways to perfect your abilities, seek opportunities to excel and knock down doors until you get what you want.
A growing-up with ever-evolving technology may think they’ve got adapting to change covered.
Not so fast.
Being versatile also means consistently adding to your skillset to stay marketable. What employers are looking for now, won’t be what employers are looking for three years from now.
So, your job as a student is never over when you want to advance.
But that doesn’t mean you have to pay tuition again. When you need to learn new skills, try free course sites like Coursera, edX or Open Culture.
Master the art of persuasion and you can get people to follow your lead.
Because let’s face it, employees will never follow you blindly. They need to buy into your vision and have respect for you. Learning to persuade through persistence, building rapport and reciprocity will make you a successful leader.
And even if you’re not a leader and don’t intend to be one anytime soon, being persuasive will still work to your benefit.
Throughout your career you’ll need to convince people to give you employment, raises, big assignments, vacation time or promotions. Learn to persuade and you’ll make your own luck.
Everyone Starts Somewhere
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your successful career. However, by adopting some of the traits above you can position yourself to grow one that you’ll be proud of.
Career change is one of the most difficult things you can go through when it comes to your professional life but if you are unhappy at the moment, it might be your best move. I highly encourage you not to take this step blindly, find counseling/coaching because you don’t want to end worse than you were. It is worth the change, after all you spend more than half of your life working, you better be happy while at it.