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Career change: How to prepare and what you need

Are you going through a career change or do you expect one to happen soon?

Let’s just hope it’s not the result of you being fired by your boss. If that’s the case, I’m sorry.

Changing careers is hard and the older you get, the harder it seems to be. Even more, if you have to unlearn a few things from your old career. And it can get to the point that seems impossible if the things you have to unlearn are deeply rooted in your core beliefs and values.

Therefore, let’s stretch the comfort zone a bit and see what are the things you can do before, during, and maybe after a career change so the impossible becomes more possible.

  • Most common reasons for changing your career
  • The crisis that makes people change their careers
  • “What made you change your career?”
  • How important is your resume for a career change?
  • One thing that’s more important than your resume
  • Finding the company you love working for
  • Know your values and strengths
  • When is the right time to change career?

Most common reasons for changing your career

Changing a career isn’t easy.

In fact, changing your career can get so overwhelming that you would do it only if you had some great reasons, right?

Think of the career change you’re going through right now and tell me you’re doing it because you want to explore a new part of yourself. I bet that’s not the case.

Most people change their careers because that seems to be their only option. And, in most cases, it should be our last option.

When it comes to career change, it starts from some unpleasant situations, such as:

  • You can’t get a better salary with the job you have, no matter what company you’re part of.
  • You want to change the country and since it seems like a big move, it makes sense to review your career and maybe start a different route.
  • You feel like learning something new and it gives you the opportunity to also change your career.

But most times it’s not only reasons like these. These reasons are not good enough to make us change careers, but they get empowered by things like your boss treating you badly or not having the freedom to make your own decisions.

And it makes total sense.

When the environment you’re part of is bad, you start looking at the options you have so you can make the needed change. Sometimes, that change leads to a career change.

The crisis that makes people change their careers

Yes, the working environment is important. The salary is too. But you’re changing your career because your efforts aren’t helping you improve these two things, not because of the environment or salary per se.

There’s a different reason, that goes deeper inside our core, as human beings, that has to do with our career change.

This reason is connected to the meaning that you get from your career. If your career has no meaning and you do things every day without knowing where you’re going, you have the most human reason to start looking for a change.

And it works the other way around too – when you have the meaning but you struggle going towards it with your daily actions.

In both these cases, when the meaning is missing or when you struggle with your daily routine, there’s a crisis that eventually will get you to change your career. This crisis is also the answer to questions like „When to change career?”.

“What made you change your career?”

One of the worst things you could do is to blame your ex-boss or to say that the environment was bad. Yes, it may be true, but stating the truth is not the way to go. Most bosses are not leaders and most environments are not rainbows and strawberries.

What I’m trying to say is that your situation is not a special one and most people are facing a difficult job or an unpleasant working environment.

Instead, you should focus on your crisis.

Previously, I mentioned that you can go through two crises that will eventually drive the career change:

  • The existential crisis – when there’s no meaning and you do things without an end purpose

In this case, you can mention that the main reason you wanted a career change is because you are searching for an organization that can help you advance towards the higher meaning.

  • The duality crisis – when things have meaning but there are too many obstacles in the way

In this case, you can mention that the main reason you wanted a career change is because the old activities kept you stuck in a place where your actions were limited.

While these answers are great, you have to know what gives you meaning in life and understand how that meaning is impacting your work.

Here are some questions to help you do that:

  • What makes you excited today about tomorrow?
  • What is something that you hope you’ll achieve by the time you’ll retire?
  • What is one way you want to impact those around you with your actions?
  • What are you hopeful for?
  • What is one thing that you’re good at and gives you energy?

When you answer these questions, try to look for something bigger than yourself that you feel connected to. Do this now so you will be safe if you decide to have a career change later in life.

How important is your resume for a career change?

Your resume matters. But there are some things that are more important than a CV and we’ll talk about them in a second.

You should learn to look at your CV the way a recruiter does. Which means that you’ll have to review your CV and add a few things.

Therefore, your CV should include things like:

  • Previous job experience
  • Education
  • Achievements
  • Skills and other industry knowledge

But there are other things that you have to take into consideration. Your resume:

  • Shouldn’t be longer than 2 pages
  • Have a clear formatting

And while it makes sense for your current career, when it comes to a resume with career change, things get a bit difficult.

The society we’re living in is skeptical and you should have that in mind when you change your career and apply for a job that you have no experience at.

Most recruiters and managers will look at your CV, will see that you’ve done something different in the past, and will wonder what made you change your career. To that question you’ll have to have an amazing answer.

Therefore, how do you answer it?

Imagine you are at your interview and you have to answer this simple but difficult question. How do you do it?

Fun Fact: 0 % More Creative

Did you know that optimism enhances creativity by 27%?

One thing that’s more important than your resume

One may say that the cover letter is more important. Or maybe the portfolio.

Yes, these things are as important as the CV and you should have them ready and up to date. But the resume, cover letter, and portfolio are not the most important things.

Instead, your relationships are.

The people you know are your most important resource.

And here’s why.

Imagine you apply to 10 jobs and you get no answer. No biggie, right?

You are still excited about your career change and you apply to 25 more. Still no answer.

Then you go to Google and search for things that are related to how many jobs you should apply to before you get a job. You see that the numbers are between 50 and 100 so you re-energize yourself and keep applying.

One month later, you applied to 100 jobs and still no answer.

The CV, cover letter, and portfolio are important, but sometimes they’re not enough. And there are cases when it’s more important to know the right person than to have an impressive CV.

Knowing the right people can get you places.

Finding the company you love working for

This is the real challenge when it comes to changing your careers.

Finding the company you love working for is really tricky and you should be careful about this. After all, it’s not like you can join a company and quit after a few weeks or months and then repeat the process until you find the right company for your needs.

Nope, that’s not possible.

Instead, you have to learn how to identify it before you decide to join and there are three things you should pay attention to:

  • What a company does
  • How a company does what it does
  • Why a company does what it does

What a company does – LOW priority

A company can do many things.

A company can make beauty products, can provide transformational leadership workshops, or build water filters.

What a company does is not that important because what a company does is influenced by how a company does what it does.

How a company does what it does – MEDIUM priority

If a company makes beauty products, but they have to kill dolphins or pollute the planet in order to enhance their products, then that’s a red flag.

On the other hand, if a company provides transformational leadership workshops and they can see results beyond the customers of their customers, then that’s a green flag.

Why a company does what it does – HIGH priority

The reasons behind a company’s actions are the most important when it comes to finding the company you love working for.

If the main (and maybe only) reason is to make money but you’re interested in creating a social impact through your actions, then it may be better for you not to pick that company.

Having these things in mind, make sure you know the WHAT, HOW, and WHY of the company you’re interested in.

When you’re at the interview, ask the recruiter and manager what the company does (you should know most of what they do from a Google search), how they do it, and why they do it.

Know your values and strengths

When it comes to career change, your skills may not be your strengths.

For example, if you change your career from teaching to programming, then teaching is one of your main skills and it may not count when you’ll be responsible for building a website.

Your ability to communicate may help you be a better team leader or to mentor someone, but you’ll reach that point of your career only after you know really well what you have to do, and that may take you a few years.

Therefore, how do you know your strengths and values for your new career?

When it comes to strengths, I’d like to pay attention to two things:

  1. The things you do well
  2. The things that give you energy
					Strength = what you do well + what gives you energy.

Let’s continue with the previous example and say that you change your career from teaching to programming.

In this case, think of what you did well as a teacher and what gave you energy.

You could do well the management of students but organizing your class doesn’t give you much energy. In that case, we’re not talking about a strength.

On the other hand, you love talking about the things that are important to your students and seeing them growing gives you a lot of energy. That could translate as a strength when it comes to listening and sharing useful information.

The more clarity you have over your strengths, the easier will be for you to sell yourself in order to get a job when the CV is not your most impressive thing.

All right. We figured out how you can identify your strengths. But what about your values?

To cut things short, I wrote a while back a pretty comprehensive article on how to analyze your past results and part of that article is about identifying your values. You’ll find there a list of 80 values to pick from and learn how to connect these values with other areas of your life. To read the article, click here: How to start your year with the PPF analysis.

When is the right time to change career?

There’s no such thing as the right time when it comes to changing your career.

In fact, right now you can be in a situation where you have stability and 6 months from now you may find yourself changing your career.

A career change can be both planned or spontaneous, which is why there’s no right time to do it.

And instead of looking at it from a time point of view, wondering when to change your career, and trying to understand if it would be better to make a career change at 40 or 50, here are other things to focus on:

  • Keep learning

When it comes to career changing, what you learn is not as important as the habit of learning.

Changing your career comes with a lot of learning responsibilities and if you’re not ready to learn and your brain is not capable of absorbing high volume of information in a short amount of time, you’ll find it challenging.

Yes, it would be amazing to learn now things that will be related to the career change you’ll go through five years from now. But you don’t really know what to expect from your future.

Just make sure you learn something new every month and you engage with the process of learning.

  • Meet new people

Meeting new people can make a difference. Oh, and what a difference!

Imagine you want to switch from teaching to programming. How great would it be to know someone who’s an expert in programming and already knows the industry? That would be amazing!

Just make sure you don’t ignore your social life and meet as many people as possible.

With love and optimism,

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