I speak to so many candidates that think switching careers is outside of their reach but it’s not! It’s easy to wake up four to five years post-college in a career you never planned on staying in because you took a job, then took another job and now you’re mid-level wearing ‘golden handcuffs’ and wondering how you can get out. Yikes!
My advice for you is to get out while you can, and it’s easier to do than you think.
Here are a few actions you can take to change careers:
1. Educate and invest in yourself
Take online courses to get experience. These could be coding classes, an online certification or volunteering to do pro-bono work at a local non-profit. Ask the department you’d like to join how you could assist. Devote at least six months to get this experience under your belt. That’s all you need really.
Pro tip: Don't run away from investing in your dream. If that includes buying expensive camera equipment or taking a certification that costs $1500? Do it!
2. Networking, networking, networking!
Reach out to people in your industry that you can jump on the phone with or take to coffee to find out if the grass is actually greener on the other side. Ask them what they did to get where they are and what they would advise you. A lot of times the information you’ll find online includes a lot of extra steps you don’t need. Be strategic in researching online during your career transition. Make sure you spend a good amount of time educating the new career and connecting with others that can give you a few shortcuts!
Attend every event you can find.
3. Create a new resume
Create an entirely new resume and add the new experience you have. Get creative and highlight any experience you have at your current and past positions that make you look more desirable to future employers. Usually, there are transferrable skills you are doing now that are a good fit for the new role where you’d like to apply to.
For example, if you work on a human resources team but would like to transition to social media marketing, talk about the fact that you updated the companies hiring page and managed their Glassdoor and LinkedIn profile, or that you updated the captions on their Instagram recruitment page.
Every bit of experience counts.
4. Inquire about internal changes
Schedule a chat with HR and ask if there is an option to internally change groups within the company. Ask what you’d need to do. Make friends with folks from the other department and quietly inquire with the coworkers you trust.
Be careful with this one though and use emotional intelligence. Does the company have an internal movement program already in place? Have you seen anyone do it before? Don’t meet with HR until you know these answers and even then consider meeting with your manager to discuss it first.
5. Don’t take a pay cut
Get creative when you speak about your experience. Highlight that you have the years of experience for the position you are applying to. Don’t negotiate against yourself by saying things like “Although I don’t have that much experience”. Interview as though you do. Always ask for the top of the range and let the company negotiate from there.
Switching careers is possible at any age and experience level. Do not let anyone tell you different!