By: Vivian Garcia-Tunon
Have you been thinking about a career change, but don’t know where to start? The thought of leaving something familiar can often be fraught with anxiety, but taking those first steps in a new direction is easier if you’re smart about your strategy and know what you want.
Figure out what industry or role you might be suited for (if you’re unsure, there are quizzes that can help). Once you have this list, marry it with your interests. What do you love to do for fun? If you didn’t have to work, what would you do? If you could start your own business, what would it be? Again, don’t hold back. Don’t be embarrassed. No response is silly.
Here are some things you can do to set yourself up for success wherever you land.
Be strategic: Do your homework.
You now have an inkling of the type of role or job you want, but your resume might not align with that. Don’t worry. This next step is all about research. Start Googling to learn more about your desired field or position. Do you need a certain certification? Are there courses you can take to learn more about the role or help you get a leg up?
Do you know someone in that field who you can talk to and find out what’s required? Or, if you don’t know anyone personally, see if one of your LinkedIn connections can help you by making an introduction. Not only will training or courses provide the background knowledge you’ll need, it shows your enthusiasm and determination when applying for jobs.
Write it down: Create real goals.
Speaking of goals, it’s time to get real. You can seek out any role, any industry, and any opportunity these days. The sky’s the limit. But you need to be clear about how you will get there. Nothing is more beneficial than writing down tangible goals and steps you can take to achieve your desired end result.
Say you want to be a professional photographer. Here is an example of a roadmap for this career.
- Research cameras.
- Purchase camera.
- Take a photography class.
- Take a Photoshop/editing class.
- Follow photographers you admire on social media.
- Start shooting daily.
- Offer to shoot people/places/etc. for free.
- Build a portfolio and website.
- Create your own Instagram account and post photos.
- Reach out to people you admire and ask how they got started.
- Attend photography exhibits.
- Join photography meet-ups.
- Apply for photography jobs.
Your roadmap might be shorter or longer depending on where you are starting and how much is required to learn. But try to write down each and every step. Once you complete them, you can cross them off, which will be satisfying and motivating.
Be curious: Talk to anyone and everyone.
Whoever said curiosity killed the cat must have wanted to keep curiosity a secret for themselves. Being curious is one of the best practices of all successful people. Having that thirst for knowledge about anything and everything is what keeps your brain sharp, your ideas flowing, and your passion ignited. You never know what person or interaction will change your life. So, talk to everyone you can. The woman in line at the grocery store, the man at Starbucks, the person next to you on the subway — it doesn’t matter. Everyone you meet is a chance to learn. And while it might not seem like they are a fit or they can help you, the simple act of asking questions, taking an interest, and talking to people is probably one of the best tools you can arm yourself with in both life and business.
Making a career transition doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you take the right steps before taking the leap.
[Related: Career Moves and Black Shoes]
Vivian Garcia-Tunon is the Founder of VGT Consulting Group, which works with senior executives, mid-career professionals, and entrepreneurs to provide leadership, management development, and transition services, and helps them achieve individual professional goals and corporate objectives.
Originally published at www.ellevatenetwork.com.