You had a bad day at work and are frustrated with your job this week, so you say I’m done…I am changing careers! You could also be the other extreme by having a slow and gradual build-up to wanting to change careers. Maybe over time you decided that you want to have more challenges at work and you think it is finally time to make the move and switch careers. No matter what your reason or motivation is to change careers, there are a lot of things to consider about yourself as a whole before you decide to pursue a life-changing event like switching careers.
As a hypothetical, let’s say you were just downsized from a company that you had been with since college. This corporation hired you as an intern way back in the day 25+ years ago and you continued to grow with the company ever since. The company had fast-tracked you up the corporate ladder and even paid for your graduate studies for an Executive MBA because they valued your talent so much and wanted to see you grow within their company. By this point, you would have reached a point in your career where all you knew was this company and its corporate culture. You might have sacrificed so much of your personal life, vacation time, and family time to go above and beyond for this company. You would have given the company everything you had to give in a professional capacity because you felt like you owed the company for everything you achieved. Cut to a few months later, you get caught up in a merger/acquisition scenario that resulted in you being downsized from the company because the new entity wanted to clean house and establish a new executive team. How would you feel right now if this happened to you? What emotions would you be feeling? Would you have any idea how to proceed right now? Just like most people, your head would most likely be spinning. But let’s assume that from a financial standpoint you would be okay because the company gave you 1 full year severance, which would allow you the opportunity to pursue other jobs at your discretion. You would not have to jump at the first job that came along, but you would not want to drag out the process either and remain unemployed for the next year. Initially, you could feel like you are fine with the change and that you are eager to use this opportunity to change jobs from an operational role to something with a creative flair to it like digital marketing, website design, or social media. You might feel like pursuing something in a creative field, but do you have any tangible skills or training in digital marketing, website design, or social media to actively pursue jobs in that realm? Depending on how much preparation you did prior to your downsizing, your strategy would be different for each scenario. If you had this career change already in motion and you have a solid skill set to build on due to your education or participation in the gig economy, now might be a good time to execute your career change. If this came out of the blue and you made an arbitrary decision to change careers in the moment because you were frustrated with your downsizing, then your best course of action right now is to pursue jobs that are similar to your current operational background until you are able to take training courses to build up your creative skills to make a successful career change long-term.
The take-away is that a lot needs to be digested and addressed if you are experiencing a life changing event like job loss. You might think it is a good time to change careers right away and try a new field entirely, but the reality is that you need to wait until you are mentally prepared to make the change and professionally equipped with the skill set to chart a different course for your career. When you are experiencing job loss, you have a lot of conflicting feelings about why this happened to you and what your next steps will be. This is a completely normal part of the grieving process for job loss, but you have to give yourself time to adjust and make peace with what happened. If you are in a state of turmoil and you go on a job interview to change careers, hiring managers will sense this turmoil and hesitation right away. Hiring managers are trained to read body language and analyze non-verbal cues. Even if you think you might be saying all the right things, the fact is that your body language may be saying something different. Your non-verbal cues could also give the impression that you lack confidence in changing careers, but the truth is that it could be stemming from your unhappiness about your job loss rather than your confidence in changing careers. The last thing you want to do is lose a valuable job opportunity in a new field because you were not prepared to make a career change or because you gave the wrong impression to hiring managers during job interviews. Even from a resume perspective, you have to be 100% clear on your job target and feel confident in your skills in this new field. If you want to make a career change and you don’t have any skills or knowledge in your new field to justify this career change on your resume, then it will end up being a futile effort because it will not yield the results you are looking for right now. Your personal branding, PVP, and keyword optimization strategy need to be closely aligned with your target jobs if you want to get job interviews. If you are unsure of your skills on the resume, then hiring managers will be unsure about your skills as well. They will question your competency and ability to perform the career change job duties.
When you are preparing for a career change after a job loss, a lot of factors need to be considered when deciding if now is the right time to do so. If you have been adequately preparing for changing careers and you feel confident in your skills, then by all means go for it! But if you have any hesitation what-so-ever or you feel conflicted about how or why you lost your job, then the best strategy is to hold off for now on changing careers. You can always continue your career down the same path that can leverage your achievements and expertise best right now. Then you can make a commitment to revisit your career change when you feel better prepared to do so. Take a few classes or enroll in some online training that will give you insight into your career change field. After you take the courses and enlighten yourself with new core competencies, see if this is really a field that is a good fit for you. After you had time to get over your initial job loss and prepare yourself for new opportunities, then you are ready to take a leap of faith and propel yourself into a new career!