You’ve been thinking about changing careers and are now finally at the stage where you have a clear idea of what you want to do. There are however a few questions you have.
- How do I know if this career path is the right one for me?
- If it is the right career path, how do I make this happen?
Here are a few things you can do to help you find out whether or not you are on your way to finding your dream career.
- Research on line
At the risk of sounding like a school teacher – the first thing you need to do is to do your homework. With most if not all companies these days having a website, carrying out research shouldn’t be too difficult. If you know the sector but don’t have a specific company in mind, find out if the sector has a professional body. If they do, you may be able to see a list of members on their site.
The other great thing about membership organisations is that they also highlight the latest trends and things going on within the sector which will come in handy later on.
- Look at job ads
Start searching the jobs sections of relevant jobs and employer websites to get an idea of what people in the sector are doing. Look for jobs at the right level. Consider the range of qualifications and experience they ask for. This will help you carry out a gap analysis whereby you can determine what skills and qualifications you already have and what is needed to fulfil the role
Look at how many jobs are advertised; if few this might indicate a sector with few current prospects – or it could just mean that jobs in this sector tends to recruit through more informal methods.
- Identify people already in the field
One of the best ways to break into a new sector is by finding out who you already know. The power of networking cannot be under estimated. Look through your list of contacts to see who you know in your chosen sector. It could be a former work colleague, a family member of a friend. Now is not the time to be shy. Approach them to see if they can connect you with the person in their organisation who is responsible for hiring. At the very least, they may be able to introduce you to someone who can talk with you about the sector and the entry requirements
One of the best tools to help you in this quest is LinkedIn. This will show you who you are connected with and also some of their connections
Identify potential employers
We’ve already talked about researching potential employers. When you visit their website, you might find the names of some of the key people in the organisation. Find out if they have LinkedIn profiles, – most people do. If they do, see who they are connected with so that you can approach them via one of your connections if possible
If you don’t have any shared connections, its worth seeking if you have any common interests such as groups that you follow. This provides you with a common talking point with the person when you approach them to ask if you can connect. Its always best not to ask for a job as part of this initial contact but to simply say you are interested in heir company and find out if they would be happy to have a short phone call with you.
- Attend networking events
I remember when I’ve been in full job search mode people saying to me, ‘go out and network’. I didn’t fully understand the important role that networking can play in helping you find your dream career. People tend to relate to and work better with people they know rather than complete strangers. Making those connections will stand you in good stead when the time comes to make that change. Once you’ve identified your career path and built your list of connections, start nurturing the list. For some it may mean following, commenting and liking their posts on networking sites. For others, it may mean a more direct route in the form of going out for a coffee or having a telephone call with them.
You will often hear people say, there is no substitute for experience. This is very true. When it comes down to it, employers or even potential clients want to work with people who have some relevant experience in the field. If you don’t have any, look for ways you can gain either direct or indirect experience .
Volunteering is generally one of the most obvious ways to build your experience. But its not the only way. If you want to switch to a marketing career, you could help with charity fundraising. A would-be management consultant can do some consulting for small organisations for free. Depending on what type of work you’re seeking, perhaps friends and family can help. For example if you are thinking of becoming a holistic therapist you may perhaps be able to get members of your family or friends to let you practice on them.
Join our Facebook Group – career changers over 40 to meet other like minded people seeking and finding dream careers