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The more I share about my day job, the more interested you guys seem to be (and I love it). I had always tried to avoid mentioning work but now that I’ve embraced it, I’ve gotten to connect with so many of you so for that I’m grateful. One of the questions I get asked is how I switched from engineering to consulting to finance. Today, I’m sharing tips on how to make a career change!
Careers are difficult to navigate. You’re not in control and you’re pretty much at the mercy of your boss or your employer. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. It’s a way for me to be an executive in a way. But with all the red tape and hurdles that your job brings, there are some really great things too. Like the chance to be a part of something bigger, the ability to interact with your peers regularly (think, a built in social life), and an amazing network of resources to make yourself the best employee you can be. So how do you make a career change and follow your dreams?
Edit your resume.
We all know that your resume is one of the first things people see. So, it better be good. In reality, most of the skills we use in our professional career are the same no matter what career we have. We need some level of attention to detail, good communication skills, and problem solving tactics. If you find a job description you like, make sure to tailor your experiences on your resume to that job description. Even if your current job title isn’t exactly the same as the one you’re going for, find out how to clearly relate your past to your future.
Keep an open mind.
The number of jobs the average person has in their career is crazy. Whatever job you get next, isn’t going to be your last. Keep an open mind when you’re looking at job descriptions. I studied Mechanical Engineering in college and went into consulting because the economy was terrible when I graduated. Consulting requires a lot of problem solving and Mechanical Engineering has a lot of that. Then, after consulting, I got hired as a Data Analyst (not sexy). That role eventually turned into Financial Analyst when I showed interest in finance and learned everything I could. It might not happen overnight but just get your foot in the door.
Be willing to come in at entry level.
This isn’t the most appealing thing. No one wants to start over. However, in some cases, you just have to. Hopefully, you can do this early on in your career. There’s no better way to learn something than to start at the beginning. Be flexible and decide if starting over is worth it to you. If it’s worth it to make your professional dreams come true. One pro tip, once you do this, don’t compare yourself to others. You’re on your own path. You’ll get there. Plus, no one is keeping score.
Management likes people that work hard. If someone knows they can count on you to deliver, they are more likely to give you opportunities that might be outside of your traditional path. That trust is critical to any career path. The support of management is invaluable. Learn as much as you can about everything and you’ll be much more prepared to take on new opportunities, eventually getting you to where you want to be.
If you’re not where you want to be, speak up. Tell your boss about it. Don’t whine but just express interest in something. Be open. Any good leader will help you put together a plan to get you to where you want to be. And if your boss doesn’t support you, speak to people outside of your team. If you voice interest in other opportunities, others are more likely to throw your name in the hat too. Just try it. Put it out there. Subtly. Don’t come on too strong but have a dialogue about it.
Careers aren’t overnight processes. They take time to get you to where you want to go. You might also think you want to be somewhere, get there, and then realize it’s not where you want to be. Focus on where you want to go next. Put together a plan (hopefully with the help of your boss). And it’s heads down until you get there.
Talk to everyone and anyone. Go to networking functions where people in the industry are going to be. Put yourself out there no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Tell them that you are looking to make a career change. People are more likely to hire people they know personally so this is a great way to get your foot in the door. Express interest, ask about opportunities, and stay connected. Even if something isn’t available at the moment, you never know what doors may open in 6 months.
Get a recruiter.
If all else fails, get a recruiter. Recruiters can tell your story for you. They are a trusted source for a company which puts you in a great place. Companies often work with the same recruiters over and over. So, if you can convince a recruiter that you’re a great fit, they can turn that story around for the company. They can also help you and prep you during the interview process. They’ll have the inside scoop on what the company is looking for so you know how to tailor your responses.
Do you have any tips for how to make a career change? Have you made a career change in the past?