The traditional life progression goes something like this: a few years learning how to talk and how to tie your shoes, 12-16 years of schooling, then about four decades in a single profession, followed by a couple of more decades spent in restful activities like golf, fishing or gardening.
But that structure doesn’t really work anymore. With the speed of technological change and the constant evolution of the job market, it’s almost ridiculous to expect to spend most of a lifetime in a career you chose when you were a teenager. Nowadays, its more reasonable to expect to live through a few career changes over the course of a working life.
But what’s the best way to make these transitions? You can’t just quit your current job and go back for another four years of college. Instead, you need to make changes on the fly.
Here are four tips for changing your career path:
Consider What You Want to Do and What Companies Need
People often wander through their careers in a nearly random fashion. Moving from one job to the next, bouncing from opportunity to opportunity like a pinball game.
This is the opposite of a career path. It’s more like a career walkabout.
To build real forward momentum, you must make a plan. You need to figure out what you want to do (we realize: no easy task!). You should also research what kind of positions are made for the future. Look into what companies need now and what they are likely to need 10 or even 20 years from now.
Talk to People in the Profession You Want
Once you have figured out a potential career path you’d like to follow, talk to people who have jobs in that industry. Online research can bring in a lot of good data. But to really understand a situation, it’s ideal to get first-hand information.
What’s the day-to-day work life like? What are prospects like within the industry? Are there any hidden issues (or benefits) to keep in mind? A real-life person is the best source of this kind of info.
If you know someone in the industry, set up a time to talk. If you don’t know anyone personally, seek out professional organizations. Work social media. Do what you can to find some personal experience that you can draw on.
Take Some Classes
Often, the first step along a new career path comes from learning new skills. By taking continuing education classes, you can pick up a new skill. It’s a perfect way to ease into a new career.
Beyond picking up fresh skills, a class presents a good, low-risk way to dip your toe into an industry. You can see if you enjoy the work and if it’s something you can excel in.
Get Experience Any Way You Can
Getting started in a new direction can seem impossible. No organization wants to be the first to take a chance on someone completely untested; unless they are desperate. Your task: Find those desperation opportunities and use them to gain as much real-life experience as possible.
Volunteer at a nonprofit. Don’t be afraid of startups and short-term gigs. Get experience in your new field any way you can.
Turn to an expert like Qualified Staffing!
Finding an experienced and dedicated recruiter can make your transition to a new career easy. Qualified Staffing can provide the expertise you need to get you going on the next phase of your working life. Contact us today to find out more.