A report from McKinsey & Company found that 48% of job changers over the last two years also changed industries. Whether you’re leaving marketing for business or teaching for human resources, the reason many people switch careers is a desire for more flexibility, higher pay, and/or a better work culture.
If you are considering changing careers, it’s important to feel confident in your decision. Take a few months and write down some notes as you go about your day-to-day. Is there something that prompted your desire for a change? What parts of your job are less desirable? Journaling can help you better understand the “why” behind your aspirations, which may help you to gain clarity on what type of job and industry you want to shift into.
Once you’ve gained some clarity on why you’re looking to change industries and what you’re looking for in your next role, it’s time to make an action plan. An action plan should break down the steps you want to take to successfully find a new job and switch careers. For some, it may even be helpful to put the steps on a timeline to make it less daunting.
Here are three ways to change careers quickly:
1. Redefine Your Personal Brand
A career change doesn’t happen overnight, but you can begin preparing now. Before you quit your current job or apply for a new job, you will want to reflect on your personal brand. Your personal brand is your professional persona, and a refresh may be necessary to better align with the new jobs or new industry you’re interested in.
A personal rebrand requires updating your resume, cover letter, and online professional profiles to better fit this new role, industry, or career you’re looking to achieve. Using keywords for the job or industry you want will appeal to potential employers and recruiters.
Begin customizing your experience on your resume and LinkedIn to use industry lingo to describe your skills. This will help you transition into new roles. Consider rewording your resume to include the adjectives needed to succeed in your industry of choice. Your experience can be translated into any niche by researching and rebranding yourself.
2. Find a Professional Mentor
The second step in changing careers quickly is to find a professional mentor. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. Is there a person who works in your desired industry that you respect? Consider joining a professional group on LinkedIn or in the city which you live – these like-minded professionals can be great mentors.
If you don’t have a mentor in mind, here are some additional ways to gain perspective and knowledge about a job or industry:
Before you make a decision about a new career or industry, it’s important to investigate whether or not the grass is really greener on the other side. Appearances can be deceiving, and if you’re looking for a better cultural fit, it’s a good idea to talk to a number of people in that industry before diving in.
An informational interview with someone who works in the industry you’re interested in or holds the new position you want can garner valuable career advice and give you a better understanding of what that career is really like. You can look for these people in your existing professional network, talk to friends of friends, or just send a cold email asking for some help. You may be surprised by who is willing to share their experience with you.
Once you have decided on your new career trajectory, find someone to shadow in the workplace to gain some hands-on experience. Whether it’s joining a Zoom meeting with a colleague at your dream company to sit in on a discussion or visiting another professional in their workplace, job shadowing gives you insight into what a job is really like and not just how people describe it.
Practice and Learn New Skills
While many skills are transferable from one career or job to another, you may want to pick up some new skills during your preparation for a career change. One of the most important skill sets to hone ahead of a career change is leadership skills.
Consider programs like our Invited MBA mini-MBA. Our mini-MBA is a 12-week, part-time, virtual program where you can build your business and leadership skills with a cohort of other professionals without quitting your job.
3. Focus on Consistent, Small Steps
The most important thing to remember when on the journey of switching careers is it takes consistent, small steps. While the actual career change can happen quickly, much of the work and time is spent up front, preparing for the career change.
Monique Jeffrey, Fall 2021 Invited MBA graduate, was unsure about the trajectory of her career. She chose a mini-MBA because each step of the program provided a foundation of understanding across all aspects of business, allowing her to try many things over the course of 12 weeks.
She said, “I absolutely loved the Invited MBA program because it gave me a lot of clarity around what topics I want to explore in my career.”
Matt Hamel, transitioning veteran, agreed, saying, “The Invited MBA was perfect for where I was in my life and provided what I needed to make the next step in my career.”
If you’re ready to make a career change, consider taking one step toward it this week. Send an email to someone who works in your desired field, sign up for a program like the Invited MBA, talk with a career counselor, or begin researching new industries for your skillset. Focus on those small steps forward each week, and you’re already closer to transitioning into the job or career of your dreams.