Thinking about a career change? Kudos my friend for having the courage to leave your comfort zone! A career change can improve your lifestyle, well-being and income.
But how can you do it successfully? For the lucky few it can be a simple process. Having the right connections; buying a business or turning a hobby into a money tree can be successful options. But then for the rest of us, a career change can take planning, strategy and determination.
1. Planning your career change
Applying for a job that’s foreign to your work history can be the toughest gig of all. You must be realistic. Is the position in demand, particularly in your location, or will you need to move? Will the business demand for this position grow in the coming years? If so, then what will you need to do to land the job? Will you need certain qualifications? Is your health and age appropriate? Are you prepared to take an entry level position? If you’re okay with all of this, then the next step is to review your qualifications.
How qualified are your competitors? You’ll need equivalent qualifications or better! These days, it’s virtually impossible to walk into a job offering just soft skills, initiative and experience. But let’s say you have the qualifications, then your next consideration is your job seeking approach.
3. Job Applications
Your résumé (or CV) and cover letter must prove that you are the best choice—on all levels. Are you confident you could do the job but just lack the experience and need a break? It’s not enough. Currently, the job market is so competitive that recruiters and employers are being extremely selective. If your résumé or CV addresses all the position requirements, and it is correctly formatted for effective applicant tracking system (ATS) scanning, then there’s a good chance you’ll be short-listed for interview.
4. Preparation for the Interview
How will you outshine the other applicants? You must do your homework. Research the business. Try to understand its mission and challenges. Think about what you can bring to the business to make it better. This is your primary concern as without the business you won’t have a job. Think about areas where you can show initiative. Think about questions you can ask, to demonstrate your interest in the business. Review the position description and try to imagine scenarios that you may be quizzed on. It’s good to have ambition—to be the best at what you do, but it must be for the benefit of the business. Prepare with a business perspective and an operations/technical perspective in mind. View the interview as an exam.
5. The Interview
What can you do for the position/business to make it better? Whatever questions are asked of you, let this theme be the basis of your response, that is, the great value that you’ll bring to the position and the business. Stay upbeat, friendly—you’re a team player and enjoy collaboration. Don’t ramble, be concise, business-like (time is money and you need to demonstrate your awareness of this.) Be confident in your communication. When asked if you have any questions, now is the time to bring up those points you’ve already considered. Be careful though, don’t ask questions that could cause awkwardness. Thank the interviewer/s for their time and then hand over your thank-you letter.
6. The Thank-You Letter
The thank-you letter is more than what it seems. This is an opportunity to reaffirm the positive points you’ve made in your interview, namely your skills and experience which will be highly appropriate; your keen interest in the position and the organization; the value that you plan to bring; and your promise to perform the role with the utmost diligence and care. This can be seen as a contract to which you are prepared to commit in writing, which is a great way to differentiate yourself from the other applicants. Remember, the interviewers will be considering many candidates and it can be hard to decide who is the best. Your thank-you letter will speak for you well after the interview is over.
Well there you have it. Six steps for a successful career change. With the right planning and preparation, anyone can do it.
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