It is not uncommon for people in the same job or in the same industry for years to start considering what else is out there. That said, it is not easy to know whether the new job you’re interested in will be a better fit for you than the one you have right now. So, before handing in your notice it can be useful to explore the steps you can make towards a career transition while you’re in your current role.
Volunteering and temping
Volunteering not only helps you to stand out in the job search in the eyes of a hiring manager (it can be a good indicator of a candidate’s passion, motivation skills or values) it can also help you to figure out what you want to do in the long term. If you have completed meaningful projects already, why not include it in your LinkedIn profile and resume, elaborating on objectives and results. Moreover, if you are in a career changing mood, taking on a temporary mission can help you develop skills for your next best job, by for instance taking a mission that requires interaction with clients, helps you boost your assertiveness or improve your language skills. If you are at the early stages of your career, temping (or an internship) is also a good way to discover the day-to-day routine of a career you had pictured in your mind. In short, it can show you what you really want from your career.
Continuous professional development
Not every career move will be a smooth transition. Even if you’ve advanced in your current role you may still be under qualified for another, particularly if you’re changing industry. Taking the time to improve your skills or learn new ones can help you reach the next level at work. Ask yourself what areas of your job you find most difficult or need to improve. For instance, if you know that negotiation skills are an increasingly important part of the job, you can either shadow someone with a wide experience in this area, go on a course or workshop or take one-on-one coaching sessions.
Simply put, transferable skills are skills you’ve gained from past work experiences, classes, workshops, mentoring or training that you think are transferable to the qualifications required to land your next job. If you have a solid experience and you’re seeking a job in the same field you’ve pursued in the past, portraying your skills as transferable is pretty easy. But if you want to change directions, you’ll have a much more complex task ahead of you. How to proceed? For each bullet point on your CV think: How can I portray this skill or accomplishment so that it is transferable to what I want to be doing in my next job? Plenty of skills are transferable, such as the ability to delegate tasks, or conduct presentations, therefore can be used in many roles and in many organisations.
When transitioning from one career to another, it turns out having a good network is key. If you’ve actively networked throughout your career, you’ll be well placed for seeking advice from your contacts. Your network is a great resource to connect you with anyone who might be useful. Make sure you have all your colleagues, clients and anyone else in your industry connected to you on LinkedIn and try to reach out to new contacts before doing your move, especially if you’re looking to switch industries.
Invest (a lot of) time in it
Besides the points mentioned above, you’ll need to invest your time wisely in your job search. Switching careers is much more demanding and time consuming than looking for a role aligned with your past experience. You’ll have to free up a lot of time to search and read about your new sector or function, network to make new contacts, get career advice and adjust your CV so it meets recruiters’ expectations.