how to have a successful career change + what you should know to successfully make a career change

 

If you didn’t already know, I recently underwent a career change (you can read more about the reasons why here). While most of the Internet makes it out to be an easy switch, I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. It’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be easy. Now, all I can think about is that corny quote, *~NoBoDy SaId It WoULd Be EaSy, ThEy SaId It WoUlD bE wOrTh It.~* Joking aside, you will feel all of the highs and lows. No matter where you are in this process, whether you only recently had the thought that you’d like to change your career, or you’ve been interviewing a lot for a career change, I think these tips can and will make the process a bit easier. Continue reading to see my tips for finally making that successful career change!

10 TIPS TO FINALLY MAKE THAT SUCCESSFUL CAREER CHANGE

 

1. DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB UNTIL YOU FIND A NEW JOB

This is kind of a no brainer, but oh wait… it wasn’t for me at the time. This is a little bit of a regret for me, but they say you live and you learn right? Well I definitely learned this past summer. Although I had the summer off from teaching (I was waitressing a little bit), I chose very, very, last minute to not go back to my previous job in special education. It honestly just didn’t feel right to go back knowing that I would be leaving part way through the year (or so I hoped). Teaching is one of those interesting careers where people tend to take it personally if you don’t stick it out for the entire year. How could you do that to the kids?! In education, you often leave people in a bind if you leave half way through the year, and rather than leaving adults hanging… yes, you’re leaving adults hanging, but more importantly, you’re also leaving kids hanging. Rather than going back, forming new meaningful relationships with kids, and getting back in the swing of things, I chose to not go back at all. Risky? Absolutely.

YUP, REALITY CHECK. I think at the end of the day you have to do what’s right for you and your situation. People have to understand that. I do regret not going back to work at the school a little bit. Under virtually no circumstances would I ever suggest to someone to quit their job before finding a new one. Worrying about money is one of the most stressful things to go through. That being said, everyone knows their own situation and financial situation the best. If you feel that you have a comfortable amount of savings and a comfortable situation, perhaps you can make it work, but I wouldn’t suggest it.

 

2. YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO STAY POSITIVE… LIKE, REALLY POSITIVE

You will go through so many “no’s” that your head will spin. And when you don’t get “no’s,” you get a lot of instances where you think the interview went pretty well, but you get straight up ghosted. No follow up even to tell you that you didn’t get the job. This can take a toll on the average person. I will admit that it definitely started to take a toll on me. By no means did I think this career switch would be easy, but I thought things would be moving a bit quicker than they were.

At a certain point you start to get so many no’s that you start to ask yourself, Did I even make the right decision? What if this doesn’t work out? You start to convince yourself that since a few companies don’t see your worth (which isn’t even necessarily true), that you don’t have any. This is far from the truth and you know it, I know it, everybody knows it. You may have to dig deep within yourself to find positive thoughts. Sometimes I think we convince ourselves that certain things are true, even when they’re not. Don’t let those negative thoughts creep in. Once one comes in, they all start coming your way. So how do you stay positive? Here are a few of my tips:

  1. Sometimes we have friends that we really, really love…. but, how do I say this… they can be negative, and their comments, suggestions, and way they go about things can leave us feeling a bit more negative or helpless. I would suggest limiting time around these people and not asking for their perspective. Again, it doesn’t mean we don’t love that person… It just means during this situation in our lives we need to limit our time around that person for our own mental health. You’re allowed to be selfish at this stressful time in your life.
  2. When you wake up, give yourself a daily affirmation for that day. For example, “Today’s going to be an amazing day,” “I’m in control to stay positive/happy today,” “I am beautiful, smart, and will do amazing things today.” Okay, they do seem a bit corny, am I right?! But you’d be amazed at how great it feels to start your day with a positive thought. Continue to say this phrase to yourself or in your head throughout your day, as needed. I recommend keeping it completely positive rather than saying things like, “I won’t get frustrated today.”
  3. Sometimes just having one thing to look forward to at the end of my day helps me get through the day. Sometimes it’s a meal I’m excited to cook that night, a show I’m excited to watch that night, a conversation with someone special, or even just thinking about how I can have a glass of wine when I get home. We need those little joys in life to look forward to. Don’t deprive yourself of life’s little joys! 🙂
  4. EXERCISE. If you’re anything like me, you hate dragging your butt to the gym, but once you get there you love it. Exercising releases endorphins in your body that are proven to make you happier. I often feel that happiness and positivity go hand in hand. Is it hard to drag yourself to the gym when it’s pitch black at 5 PM and you have other things to do? Of course, but I find that even just 30 minutes (I love the Sweat app by Kayla Itsines) completely changes my day.

3. TALK TO PEOPLE + NETWORK WITH PEOPLE IN THE CAREER YOU WANT TO BE IN

You’ve probably heard that it’s all about who you know, and while I don’t think that’s completely true, it definitely does help to know the right people, especially in the career you hope to be in. I was first introduced to my new job through a posting in a Boston Bloggers Facebook group I’ve been in for a while. Crazy, right?! I think a lot of people get intimidated by networking, but networking has evolved a bit. It’s not all meeting in person over a cocktail and sharing business cards. A lot of networking happens online now. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page yet, make one. Not only can it connect you with jobs, but you can see the people that work at a particular place you may be hoping to work at. I don’t think it hurts to connect with those people, and possible even send them a quick note if you feel comfortable. Make sure your LinkedIn page is updated as well.

Another great place to network is on Facebook. There are so many events going on all the time if you live in a city, and Facebook is where I find a lot of them. You can go to “events near you” and can keep searching. There won’t always be things that are relevant, but sometimes there are. I know there are constantly events going on in Boston, so perhaps your city is similar.

4. BE OPEN MINDED + LET THIS EXPERIENCE HUMBLE YOU

A bit of a challenging one. I think it’s sometimes easy to get an entitled attitude, however, this is a process that will definitely humble you. When working your way into a new career, you will typically be starting at “the bottom,” or entry-level. I hate the word entry-level because I think it makes people feel like they’re doing nothing and have no skills, however, that obviously isn’t the case. Often times in an entry-level role, you’re working the hardest you’ve ever worked because you’re desperately trying to prove to everyone that you’re capable.

This is where it gets tough. When I say be open-minded, I almost mean “be prepared.” Be prepared that you will not start out in a new field making $100,000 a year (or maybe you are and that’s amazing)! Of course, you can work your butt off to get their one day, but know that it doesn’t happen overnight. Hard work, a positive attitude, and patience go a long way.

 

5. ASK FOR HELP WITH YOUR RESUMÉ + COVER LETTER IF YOU NEED IT

When first embarking on this career change, my resumé desperately needed help. It looked outdated, boring, and hadn’t been updated in three years. Not to mention it was catered for an entirely different career. I didn’t know how to make it stand out from others’ or what I wanted it to look like. I think we all have a friend that’s great at design or is just a pro at creating an amazing resumé, so ask them to help you out. Luckily for me, it’s my boyfriend who is a pro at design since it’s part of his career. If you don’t have a friend, go on Etsy or even on a website like Canva and find a resumé layout. I will say that Canva has really amazing options that are free!

 

6. WORK WITH A RECRUITER

If you live in a city, typically you can work with a recruiting agency whose sole job is to find you a job. It’s important to know that there’s different types of recruiters. Some recruiters are free to people like us (companies pay them when they fill a job), and other recruiters you have to pay. Make sure you know which you’re meeting with so that you don’t end up having to pay money if you think it’s going to be free! I worked with a free recruiter, and while I didn’t find a job out of it, I did find it helpful to sit down with someone and talk about my past experience and where I hope to be in the future.

Recruiters are also great at being realistic with you about the type of job you may be able to land/not land and may also help you to consider other options you hadn’t thought about previously. Recruiters can offer full time jobs, part time jobs, and “temp jobs” otherwise known as temporary jobs. This may be something as simple as filling in for someone at a front desk for a few days who’s getting surgery or a position that last months. Make sure you know what you’re getting into with a temporary job. Are benefits included? What will the pay look like? What are my duties? A recruiter may or may not be for you, but if you’re desperate, it’s worth trying everything!

 

7. LEVERAGE YOUR SKILLS

Hopefully you have some skills from your life or a previous job that can take you into the career that you hope to be in. For me, I knew that I wanted to find a job in social media marketing or something close to that. While my teaching experience wasn’t necessarily relevant experience for the job I was looking for, you better believe that I leveraged the heck out of my blog. I thought of every single task I perform for my blog on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and worded them in ways that would appeal and stand out to an employer (it’s not lying, it’s just being good at wording things). However, on the other hand, don’t simply dismiss some of your skills from a previous job just because you think the employer won’t care. While changing my career from teaching to one in marketing was certainly a difficult one, in some sense, it helped me stand out because the skills I have from teaching are so different compared to the skills one learns in any other office type job. For example: patience, problem solving, flexibility, etc. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no matter how drastic your career change, your past experience will excite someone and they will see it as valuable.

8. PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE

You might be in a hurry to land a new job, but guess what… Your employer isn’t! Don’t be surprised when your interview process turns into three to four different rounds of interviews with a week in between each one (after all, you’re not the only one interviewing). Try not to get discouraged if it seems like it’s been awhile, and don’t be afraid to follow up if it’s been a week or longer. I wouldn’t recommend following up if it’s been shorter than a week since you’ve heard from the employer.

What we all have to remember (and I did a bit of reading about this) is that hiring someone is the single most risky thing a company can do. Hiring someone who ends up leaving quickly, isn’t good at their job, or needs to be let go, is costly to a company in the long run. When you think of it that way, can you really blame a company for going through rounds and rounds of interviews? They want to make sure they get it right the first time.

 

9. CONSIDER TAKING CLASSES / LEARNING

This goes a little bit back to where I talked about leveraging your skills. So you’re thinking, “I have zero skills that can transfer from my past job to the job I want.” First of all, I refuse to believe that’s true, but if you’re feeling extremely unsure of yourself, I would suggest taking classes or putting in the work so that you can add more skills to your resumé. Many communities have “adult education” classes that are typically very inexpensive and can teach you things such as Excel, photography editing, foreign languages, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Boston (and I believe other cities as well) have a place called General Assembly which caters to marketing, technology, and data fields. You can take anything from web development courses to digital marketing to visual design, and everything in between. My goal for the coming year is to take one of their courses. Have you ever taken a course there?!

 

10. KNOW YOURSELF

Perhaps the most important one of all. You have to be an expert on you. What are you great at? Where do you need to improve? What kind of role do you see yourself fitting in well with? What kind of role would you hate? If thinking about these things feels overwhelming to you (trust me, you’re not alone), I suggest chatting with a friend or writing. I have such a hard time pin-pointing my strengths and weaknesses (is that everyone)? It’s super important to know yourself inside and out because how else are you going to pitch yourself to a company as being the person they NEED?

Another important thing worth noting – I think so many times we realize during an interview or during a phone call for an interview that this role 1. May not be what we thought it was, 2. May not be for us for one reason or another, and/or 3. This doesn’t seem like a place I would be happy. I can’t stress this enough – it’s not worth settling at a place you will be miserable at! You won’t be happy, chances are your employer will be able to sense that you’re not happy, and work will feel like hell. We spend so many hours of our lives at work. It’s not worth proceeding with a job that you know is not for you before you’re even hired. Is it a bummer? Absolutely. I’ve had phone interviews where I started out so excited and then half way through the call realized, I could never see myself working here. It’s best to be honest right away and respectfully share that you’re not exactly sure that this would be the role you’re looking for currently. No harm done. Most people respect honesty!

 

Have you gone through a career change or been thinking about it? What has been the most difficult part for you?!