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It is estimated that 29% of post-graduates have completely changed their fields since their first job and 32% of employees between the ages of 25 – 44 years old have at least considered a career change. There are various reasons and benefits as to why people embark on a different career path, and contrary to popular belief, these reasons may go well beyond getting a higher salary or a “better job”.
You might have grown up always knowing what career you’ll pursue or perhaps certain influences made you choose your qualification. Now you are post-graduation, you’ve been in the working field for a few months or years and you’ve just realized that your passions and interests have completely changed. Now what? The first key is to realize career switching is more common than discussed and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, when someone changes careers, it allows them to explore other avenues and be more creative. This can lead to improved self-esteem as well as an increased sense of purpose in their new role.
Author Jenny Blake defines career pivoting as “doubling down on what is working to make a purposeful shift in a new, related direction. Pivoting, in this sense, is “an intentional, methodical process for nimbly navigating career changes.” Like any general pivoting in life, career change is a calculated process that requires planning and boldness.
Here are a few steps to making your career change as smooth as possible:
Research your career options
Once you’ve identified that you need to pivot, you will have to research the career options that you would like to pursue. Go on job websites and look at Job Descriptions – read thoroughly and compare with skills that you have and the skills you need to acquire. Sometimes you might find that the degree you have does not necessarily match the job descriptions but it’s enough to get your foot in the door. And that’s the most important thing about career pivoting, getting your foot in the door and working your way up. Remember it’s a process.
Identify which skills can be transferred from your qualification
The goal is to position your CV in such a manner that is attractive to your potential recruiter. This means identifying which skills from your qualification or past job apply to the potential job. These transferrable skills may include communication skills, writing, managing people, problem solving, digital skills, etc.
This is quite self-explanatory. Once you identify the gap in your cv, you may explore doing a short course to upskill yourself or even starting a whole new degree to align academically align yourself with career you want to explore.
We’ve delved a lot into the importance of networking. When it comes to career pivoting, your networks might come in quite handy. Go through your list of contacts and approach your alumna who might work in the relevant field that you want to work in, approach them just to check if there might be available opportunities.
Highlight your transferred skills in the cover letter
Once again, you need to be able to explain in your cover letter how your skills can be transferred into the new role. This is your opportunity to explain that while your degree doesn’t directly align with the role you’re applying for, your current skills can be applicable.
As a disclaimer, it’s important to keep in mind though that it can take some time to figure out what to do next. However, most people that are career changers end up being happy with the new profession they pick. There is a common misconception that people who want to change their career field are lazy, unmotivated, or just unappreciative or indecisive.
In reality, people who make a career change are doing it so because they don’t have job satisfaction. They may feel a need to do something different with their life. The key here is to normalize change as much as possible. It’s okay to outgrow certain passions and interests and it is possible to make that bold career switch!