Extracted from U.S.News & World Report LP by Miriam Salpeter
Job searching is challenging for everyone, but experienced job seekers, especially those who realize they want to change their career tracks, may face special challenges. Marc Miller, career design specialist with Career Pivot (careerpivot.com) and author of Repurpose Your Career–A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, suggests these six key steps to follow when making a career change:
- Decide what you want. - “Know thyself” may sound like a cliché, but it’s crucial if you want to make sure you find a role where you’ll be happy. Avoid moving from one job or career to another before you narrow down how you want to spend your working hours. When you make a change, take the opportunity to focus on yourself and your needs.
- Elevator Pitch. - Once you narrow down what you want to do next, Miller suggests you craft an elevator pitch to highlight what you offer your target employer. The best pitches clearly explain how and why you’re a good fit for your ideal job. Especially if you’re transitioning to a new field or career, be sure you make a solid case for why you’re well qualified.
- Build your team. - Miller calls this your “tribe”. These people are willing to help and support you during your career transition. Is there a friend or family member you can turn to when your spirits are low? Who might be willing to brainstorm next steps with you? Do you know someone who can act as a second pair of eyes to review your resume and other job application materials? Build a team around you and keep in touch with them.
- Act on facts, not assumptions. - Instead of assuming anything, make sure to use actual research and data to make your decisions and choices about your future. Use all of the resources available to learn about companies and positions, including online and social media tools.
- Network strategically. - Networking is important for all job seekers, but for people in career transition, it’s even more crucial. You must connect with people who can introduce you to decision makers. When you meet new contacts, make sure they understand why you’re a good fit for the type of job you want. Use social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter to find and target individuals who can be your allies and develop relationships with them. When you target your networking, you will find people willing to advocate for you, which makes all the difference for job seekers.
- Learn to ask for help. - Miller reminds career changers that it’s tough (maybe impossible) to head into new territory and to succeed without help. He suggests you “set aside your pride in order to reach for something new. Career change is hard at first; but it gets easier.”