Over the years I have had a number of people approach me with regards to advice on how to change career direction.
Prior to writing this blog I was trying to think about a situation where either I or one of my team members have placed someone who has completely changed career direction. I could not think of an example. This is largely because most clients use agencies to recruit someone who can hit the ground running, someone who has a proven track record in a particular field.
Of course, this does not mean that you cannot change career direction. Of course you can!
We had friends around for dinner at the weekend and one of these friends is about to start an IT related role in a Global Organisation. This guy is not an IT specialist. He has recently done some IT courses in an effort to re-train himself after spending the majority of his career in healthcare, workplace training and occupational health & safety.
I will not speak for him but I will try and articulate why I feel that he has been successful in securing a job in another field and what I think that people need to focus on if they want to change career direction.
If you are going to change careers you really need to look at your motivation to change. Think seriously about this.
What do you want to do next? Why do you want to do this? Where do you see your career in say 3, 5 and 7 years’ time?
In this case, my friend and his wife are going to start a family. He has spent his career travelling all over the world and wanted to be closer to home. He has lots of friends in IT and there are a variety of IT roles in Melbourne. So it makes sense.
Leveraging your Existing Skills and Experience:
What is it about you, your personality, values and experience that you will bring to your new profession and prospective employers? What can be leveraged and will help an employer see you as someone who is worth the investment?
I happen to think that my friend is a very interesting person with lots of life experience. He has worked all over the world and has experience of working in different cultures. He is intelligent, articulate and my feeling is that he will be an excellent relationship builder/stakeholder manager.
I imagine that once he gets used to the technical demands of his new role he will bring structure, process and excellent relationships skills to his new employer.
Back to School?
If you are going to change profession, you may need to do get some further qualifications or certifications. I suggest that you do some research on this. Can you afford the investment? Is this investment really what you want to do? Are their cheaper alternatives?
As mentioned my friend did some IT courses. He is certainly not an IT guru but he has shown his willingness to retrain in an area which is relatively foreign to him – but he has persisted!
Talk to the Experts:
Do you know anyone in your new chosen field of work? Have you talked to them about their careers, the positives, the challenges and how they see their field developing?
It may be worthwhile getting some advice and guidance from a career coach. I can recommend three of these:
New Horizon Coaching, Sydney based – Caroline De Kimpe
LLBC – Louise Bodlander Coaching, Sydney based – Louise Bodlander
Piper Career Enhancement, Melbourne based – Sarah Redfern
Have you worked out how much it will cost you to get retrained? Do you know what the starting salaries are in your new profession? Can you afford to start at this level? For how long can you work at this salary?
Put some cold reality into your thoughts and dreams. Of course you can achieve whatever you put your mind to but you need to understand the financial parameters that you are working with.
I remember when I was trying to get into the consulting space after spending 7 years in recruitment. I found it pretty tough. My CV and cover sheet were constantly rejected and I found it difficult to meet with HR and Talent Management specialists as “I did not have the required experience”. Eventually, I managed to make this move as one of my clients recruited me. Use your network as much as you can – this is often better than sending your CV to a role which you may not be qualified for and the client has had hundreds of applications.
I do a lot of business development and I get rejected all the time. I am used to this of course as I have been doing this for 15 years. I try and leverage my networks first and foremost but I also try and celebrate my wins. This could be a positive conversation, a good lead, booking a meeting, etc. You may not secure your dream role straight away so it is important to see the little wins as building blocks for your future.