Career pivots have always been a daunting subject. Many people are afraid of the investment and the possibility of failure, but we’re here to tell you it’s not all doom and gloom. Yes, switching careers is no easy feat but when done right, job satisfaction is worth it all.
In light of the pandemic this year, many find themselves looking to enter new career fields. 2020 has jolted a lot of people’s professional lives, whether it was out of necessity for a new job, as a wake-up call, or just as a reminder of a passion you’ve always wanted to pursue. While the process for how to pivot certainly isn’t one size fits all, here are a few starting tips that can help anyone navigate the switch:
Ask Yourself Important Questions
A great starting point is to sit down with yourself and ask, “Why do I want to switch careers?”.
Often, we jump right into our careers and don’t necessarily get the time or opportunity to explore other avenues. If you’re thinking of switching careers, here are some helpful questions you can use to conduct your own self-evaluation:
- What do I enjoy doing? Where would I rather channel my effort and energy?
- What industries are doing well?
- What challenges do I have to overcome to make a career change?
- What are my personal goals?
- Are my skills transferable?
- What are my strengths and how can my experience help during this transition?
Of course, these questions are just a framework for you to begin understanding yourself and your ambitions better. Your answers need not come to you instantly or even be perfect, but they will help you map out how to move forward.
Make Your Finances Work for You
Switching careers often means starting completely new, and that means a likely pay cut. Before you take the leap, assess your finances, and prepare to make some cutbacks and compromises. Finances are even more important if you have to upskill or study something entirely new before the switch, or are getting started as an entrepreneur. Yes, cautious spending is in order but there are other options to consider:
- Apply for student loans and scholarships: Take a cue from the playbook on how to afford an education for one of the most in-demand jobs: nursing. If you’re planning to study and equip yourself for a new career, consider applying for scholarships, grants, and flexible loans so the financial pressure is eased off as you ease into your new role.
- Budget: Pursuing a new career is exciting but it also needs an equal investment. Most career switches require financial cutbacks, so a realistic budget helps. Swap out ordering in food for cooking at home, or maybe trade-in your car for something less high maintenance—however small or drastic, making trade-offs is a small price to pay when you’re working towards a new life goal.
- Create a safety net: Unless you’re suitably well-off, it always helps to have a financial safety net. Consider putting aside money every month or taking up a part-time job or freelance work to help fund your career switch!
Assess Industry Challenges
Switching roles is one thing, but switching industries? A mammoth feat. Every industry comes with different expectations, responsibilities, and challenges. Before you decide to switch, make sure you have all the necessary information at hand. Having some idea of what your new job will be like will help you deal with certain workplace challenges like:
- High stress
- Labor-intensive roles
- Long hours
- Exposure to violence or disease
- Pay scales
Contrary to what we see on the silver screen, switching careers is not always the glamorous affair it’s made out to be. It’s messy, stressful, and time-consuming. Switching will come with its fair share of spontaneity but there are small steps you can take to create a more structured path for yourself. Start off by dipping your toes into the industry you’re seeking out. This includes internships, part-time jobs, workshops, research and even networking with people from the field to give you some insider’s insight.
Alongside gaining these insights, be sure to assess your own skills. Most people believe switching careers means going into a new industry completely blind. But luckily, that’s not always the case. While the skills you’ve acquired from your previous role may not all be applicable to your next one, you’d be surprised to find how many can be.
To assess your skills, list down your hard and soft skills and then research the skills required in the new jobs you’re interested in. Look out for the overlap, fill in the gap, hone your transferable skills, and leverage those strengths in your new role!
Breaking into a new career field requires time, effort, energy, and courage. Everyone’s journey is different but it helps to have a plan to pursue your goal. Hopefully, these starter tips will help set you on your journey to a new career and a new you.