Climbing the career ladder isn’t always a vertical climb. Sometimes, lateral movements are necessary, whether for a better opportunity, a better working environment, or just to try out a new industry.
When it comes to moving into a new field, career transitions can be a little tricky, so what should one do to ensure a smooth transition and avoid obstacles along the way?
In this article, we’ll share some valuable tips for making smooth transitions when changing careers.
1. Research the industry
Climbing up the career ladder isn’t always a straight-line journey, and a person needs to be aware of the changes that they can make along the way.
You want to be able to smoothly transition into a new field and know what you’re getting yourself into.
To start, you need to learn about the industry. You can do this by asking around, and attending industry events.
You also want to gather information from some online sources. For example, by reading comment boards specific to the industry you’re interested in – Reddit is a great place with many sub-communities for exactly that purpose.
You can also search for Q&As related to the profession on sites like Quora.
Once you have a general overview of what the industry is like, you can start learning more specific details. For example, if you have an interest in marketing, you can join marketing groups on LinkedIn and observe other marketers to see how they conduct themselves and learn what they do.
2. Pick up any certifications you need.
If you’re considering transitioning into a technical field, chances are there are some certifications you’ll need to pick up.
While professional experience on your resume is always solid, the fact remains that you’re transitioning between industries, which means you want to show you’re up to speed with all the latest industry trends and developments.
Other industries may require more formal education or training, such as if you’re interested in becoming an asset manager in the financial sector – no matter how much work experience you have, you’ll definitely need to start studying for the CFA exam, which is a strict requirement for being hired in that industry.
This is partially why many people find it difficult to change career industries later in life, especially after obtaining degrees and certifications in a specific field. You can become pigeonholed by your education, and may find it difficult to enter other industries without going backwards.
3. Choose an employer that will help you learn.
Sometimes, a career change can be a bit of a gamble. When you’re making a career change, it’s important that you choose an employer that will help you learn what you need to know to do your job well.
This is why it’s so important to find an employer that helps you develop professionally, and that values and rewards your hard work.
You’ll be working in a new industry, so it’s important you have a supportive and professional environment to learn. This could come in the form of mentoring, seminars, workshops, job sharing, or other types of training.
For example, if you want to become a data scientist, then you’ll need training that shows you how to use various data analysis tools.
If you’re willing to make the career change, you should be able to find resources that can help you build the technical skills and knowledge you need to succeed in your new job.
4. Rebrand yourself and your resume.
When you’re transitioning careers, sometimes it’s hard to rebrand yourself and stay current. A new career is practically a new you – so take the opportunity to look at yourself and decide what you really want.
Take some time to think about what you’d like your new career to be, and what you’d like your career achievements to look like. You don’t want to be “Joe who used to work in accounting” – you want to be “Joe who is currently an IT professional working with Big Data.”
This applies to your resume, so it’s important to figure out what skills are tangibly related to your new job, and highlight them on your resume. Even if you have a bunch of general experience and certifications that say you’re qualified to do a job, it’s more likely that your new employer will look at your specific skill set.
5. Try shadowing for a day.
One of the most valuable things you can do in this situation is to shadow someone for a day, and learn what their daily routine is like.
This is a perfect opportunity to learn how the organization functions, and get a better idea of the place you want to be.
Research a company beforehand, then ask if you can shadow someone on the job for a day. For example, if you want to become a financial advisor, you can ask the recruiter for someone who works at a firm that is open to recruiting diverse candidates. You can then shadow this employee for a day, learning more about how the business works and how they go about completing tasks.