Job Hunting Tips When You’re Changing Career Fields

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So you’ve decided you’re going to try for a new job. Not just a new job really, but a new job in a completely new field. Congrats! Now it’s time to really buckle down and make it happen. But what are the first things you should even do to prepare for changing career fields?

Commit

Arguably the hardest part of deciding to change career paths is actually making the decision. You would be giving up presumably a comfortable salary to take a risk on something that may not really pay off for a number of years. But on the other end of things, you may find yourself indescribably happier and never regret a single moment of the whole process — it is all about taking care of yourself emotionally and deciding what is right for you.

There are a number of important questions you should be asking yourself before you really dive in though, including:

  • What would I rather be spending my time doing?
  • Does that new job support my desired work/life balance?
  • What challenges and obstacles do I face by pursuing this?
  • Am I financially, emotionally, and mentally ready to make this happen?
  • Will I find greater fulfillment by leaving the job I’m currently in?

It is easy to decide you want a new job after a bad day at work, but if your current job is always mentally and emotionally draining you, then it is certainly a good idea to look for alternatives. We spend a great deal of time at work and a bad work situation can have a significant impact on nearly every other aspect of our lives even if we try to prevent it from doing so. Something completely different may be just the ticket!

Cover the Basics

Once you’ve made it through the bellyache of making the decision to pull the trigger is when the real work begins. It’s time to spruce up that resume and practice your interviewing skills. Of course, it can be a bit more challenging if you are applying for a job in a completely different career path. For some reason, these days even the entry-level jobs seem to require a year or two of actual experience.

One of the most important things you can do is to play up all of the relevant experience you do have. Did you supervise people in your previous job? Great — you have supervisory skills that can be transferred to any career path. Were you a computer wiz? How are your writing skills? What about your ability to learn new technologies? Are you a strong communicator?

Sooner or later (hopefully sooner!) you’re going to get an interview. Now it’s time to make an impression that will land you your dream job. Interviews can be tricky, so it’s always worthwhile to practice some of the most common behavioral questions such as ‘describe a time you had to deal with a work conflict’ and ‘when did your ideas lead to a success in the workplace’. Furthermore, take time before an interview to really think about important experiences and developmental opportunities you’ve had — coming in prepared can help you answer questions quickly, confidently, and really come across as professional.

Keep Marching On

Chances are that this whole thing isn’t going to be an easy process, and it is important to go into it with that knowledge. For one, you might be entering a field that you have no experience in. Get real about the fact that you may have to start from the bottom which can mean a drop in pay, more grunt-level work, and a new ladder to climb. If you are willing to do this then you’re on the right track.

No matter what, the most important thing is to keep taking steps towards your career goals, even if they are small ones. Things like training and volunteer events and interviews add up and will eventually help you land the job you want. Heck, your steps forward don’t even have to be perfect all the time, you will likely make mistakes, but the big thing is to never give up.

Finally, be true to yourself. Don’t get too down if you are struggling to find your dream job, and don’t lower your standards. Practice negotiating skills, and define a clear walk-away point. Otherwise, you may end up in another bad work situation and be looking to start all over again.

You Can Do It!

Making the decision to change career paths can be an exciting and daunting journey. Taking steps to ensure you are ready by asking yourself the right questions is a good place to start. From there build your resume, shine a light on your transferable strengths, practice interviewing, and keep marching on. You’ll get there and it will all be worth it!

This guest post was authored by Brooke Faulkner

Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.