When times are uncertain – as they most definitely are now – it can feel like even the most secure job could be on shaky ground. Job security hasn’t shifted in the last twenty to thirty years, but some jobs are certainly more secure than others and afford more peace of mind. For this reason – and many others – you might be thinking about changing careers right now. Perhaps you’ve simply grown tired of the role you’re currently occupying, or maybe your work culture is toxic and it’s time to move on. Whatever your reason, you should never engage with a change of careers unprepared. Here are 6 things you’ll need if you want to change careers quickly.
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1. A reserve of funds
It’s a bad idea to try and change careers without building up some reserve cash first. While you’re searching for opportunities to get your foot in the door of a new career, you’ll need a way to support yourself, and if you’ve quit your job, a little cash in the bank is a good way to do so. There are many ways to shore up the kind of cash you might require for this. You could, for example, pursue an unsecured personal loan, which would allow you to take advantage of a quick cash injection without needing to worry about your assets. Alternately, you could dip into your savings (after all, what is that rainy day fund for if not this?) or seek a part-time job while you research your new career.
2. Knowledge about your new career
It won’t do to simply blunder into a new career without first undertaking an adequate level of research. This means reading about the realities of the career you’ve chosen; knowing what the job will entail, understanding what your responsibilities will be, and finding out what some people have described as negative qualities about that job. After all, the last thing you want to do is to walk into a new career only for it to be just as unsatisfying, unfulfilling, or regressive as the job you’ve left behind. Of course, this will also differ from company to company, so try to keep your research as broad and general as you possibly can at an early stage.
It’s inordinately helpful to have existing connections or contacts in a new career you’re thinking of taking up. This is because if you’ve got someone “on the inside” who can help you to understand the realities of the job – and if they could perhaps assist in securing an internship or volunteer position for you – that’s infinitely more helpful than trawling an often hostile and difficult job market. Later on, when you’ve established a presence for yourself in your new industry, your connections will come in handy when it comes to networking and branching out. Ask around and see if you know anyone who is already doing the job you’re looking to get into. If you don’t know anyone, don’t be afraid to reach out over networks like LinkedIn.
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Looking for a new job – especially one in an industry which you’re not already established – can be very difficult. That’s why it’s important to remain dedicated throughout the entire process, even though sometimes it can be demoralising and difficult. You may experience repeated rejection as you send your CV out to multiple employers, or you may even hear nothing back from those employers whatsoever. Developing a thick skin to deal with these rejections is critical. The job market loves experience and is naturally skeptical of those who don’t have it in abundance, so it may be difficult to change careers initially simply because companies may not be willing to give you a chance.
5. Realistic expectations
There are times when your career change may not be panning out as you expected it to. In those moments, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. You’re very unlikely to be able to leap from one job to another with no intermission or stopgap in between. There may be long periods of time during which you’re not seeing any returns on your time investment, and you may also need to start at the bottom rung of whatever career you’ve chosen to enter. These are normal things to happen if you’ve decided to switch careers. Similarly, you may not love your first position in your new career, even if it’s the area in which you want to work for the rest of your life. Remember not to treat this change as a balm for all of your problems and you’ll be set.
The most important thing to bear in mind when you’re looking for a new career is to be passionate about what you’re doing. If you don’t show passion during every stage of your career transition – from job applications to daily work assignments – then it’ll be evident that you’re not really committed to the career shift. Those who succeed are regularly passionate about what they do, and besides, if you’re not changing careers so you can do something you’re passionate about, then why are you changing careers? Before you make the shift, think carefully about whether what you’re getting yourself into is something about which you could feel passionate every single day when working. If so, it’s almost certainly the right career choice for you.