If a new career area has piqued your interest and you are considering a move into a new job, sector or profession, those who have made the leap say there are a number of steps you can take to help you get there:
Appreciate what you can take with you
While many people are focused on getting out of their current careers and into their desired new jobs as fast as possible, Brian Lambier, a career coach and president of Career Vitality in Calgary, says a better option is to take advantage of the time you are working. While earning a steady income, you can develop skills within your current job, make connections, research the industry you’re going into, get further education and even save money. There may also be parallels between the industries or skill sets you can transfer from one field to the other. “I think if you’re able to hang in there, use the time and the position you have to your advantage to build a future,” he says.
Analyze your situation
In addition to making sure the new career fits with your strengths and skills, consider carefully whether the move will require any further training or education, how much time and energy you need to commit and whether your family and financial situations fit those requirements, says Lambier. “Are you prepared to take a pay cut to start, especially if you’re looking at making a career change from one industry to another?” he asks.
Put the word out
Once you have decided that you want to explore a new career path, let friends and family know, says Eleanor James, a Toronto-based executive coach who founded The James Thinkstitute after a career in the television industry. To learn more about their work or industry, she adds, don’t be afraid to cold-call someone already in the profession to ask for a brief information meeting. An “elevator speech” (a concise summary of what you’re looking to do) is also useful as a lead-in to any discussion, says Lambier.
In addition to completing courses or other educational requirements for your new field, try volunteering at events related to your desired new career. This can be key not only to making contacts in the industry, says Smith, but also to developing a clearer vision of what you want to do. For example, by volunteering and attending courses, Smith decided that program management was more her strength than event management. Be strategic when it comes to what you spend your time and effort on, she says. Attend meetings of an association related to your desired field as a non-member, if possible, as another great way to make connections, says Lambier.
Some people may feel overwhelmed when considering a career change, or not know how to go about making the move, says James. “I have worked with a number of people who say they want to do X, and then give me all the reasons that they can’t do X,” she says. The key is to take the process one step at a time and find out first, if you like the world of that career and second, whether opportunities are opening up for you.
Sometimes, a change in perspective is also necessary, says James. “It might turn out that X is the wrong thing, but it’s for sure going to be the wrong thing if all you have are the reasons why you can’t do it,” she concludes.
© Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2012