Thinking of making a career change? Here’s everything you need to know before taking the leap.
Do you dream of a more fulfilling career or of following your true passion? Are you unhappy and/or dread going to work each day? We spend more than half of our waking hours at work, so we owe it to ourselves to find something that is truly satisfying and fulfilling. In some cases, this may involve a departure from your current role or industry – and that’s perfectly okay! Career changes can be wonderful opportunities. Just make sure you consider these six things before you make the leap.
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1. Explore Career Alternatives, Bottom-Up
Ask yourself some fundamental questions about what kind of work you enjoy. Are you comfortable with the resources and structure of a big institution, or do you prefer the energy and dynamism of a startup? Do you get the most satisfaction from collaborating with people, or are you happy grinding items off your list with headphones? Do you need to be inspired by a consumer product, or does it motivate you to engage services to accelerate businesses?
Take time to write down the elements that make up your ideal professional environment, social setting and business culture so you can see exactly what you want from your next step.
2. Explore Career Alternatives, Top-Down
What are the roles and industries available in your area? What sectors are growing? What companies are developing? Where is the critical mass of employers and what are the growing niches? For instance, in Hong Kong, it’s widely accepted that financial services, insurance, logistics and property are the largest industries. But if you look around, you can see growing companies in fintech, travel and retail. Invest time on sites like LinkedIn, Jobsdb.com and Wantedly when looking for available roles so you can be knowledgeable about who’s growing and who’s hiring, then test the openings that intrigue you against the list you made in step one above.
3. Take A Personal Assessment
Utilise free online professional tools to understand your goals, motives and what excites you. Self-assessment tools that suggest careers based on your personality, such as this one by the Princeton Review, offer quick and easy quizzes that show you jobs that match with your style and interests.
4. Introduce Yourself To A Recruiter
The best time to meet a recruiter isn’t actually when you need a job. Make it your business to develop relationships before you’re even thinking of making a change! Not all recruiters are purely focused on the placement in front of them; the best ones invest in their talent network for the long term. Devote time to connecting with a solid contact who makes the effort to understand your experience and aspirations. They will ultimately keep you in mind for when that perfect opportunity comes up.
5. Make A List Of Career Options
Once you’ve identified occupations that match your personality, narrow down your list to five – 10 jobs. It’s important to be open-minded here, considering all possibilities, no matter how wildly different they are from your current job. Spend time exploring each job on your list and dive deeper into the daily tasks, as well as what skills or additional education are required.
It’s also important to analyse industry trends to evaluate the potential growth of the industry, company or job you are interested in – after all, you want to make sure your career change is sustainable in the long term!
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6. Tap Into Your Network
Now that you have your list of options in hand, connect with people in your network that are in similar fields. Reach out to contacts on LinkedIn who work in the field you are interested in and schedule informational interviews. If you don’t have a direct connection to someone on LinkedIn, reach out to your own network and/or acquaintances for an introduction. Or reach out cold – you might be surprised at the responses you’ll get from a respectful, curious inquiry.
People are generally very happy to help others and also typically enjoy talking about themselves and their career. Identify a role model and study their career path to help you understand a clear route to your end goal. Someone who is perhaps between four and six years ahead of you is ideal, compared to someone at the top of the game, as they can offer you a more relatable reference for how to make near-term progress.
Sassy Tip: When meeting or chatting with your contact, remember to come prepared with a list of specific questions about the role. This might be your only chance to get a raw and honest insight!