breaking the mold: navigating through new career opportunities

imageAccording to career change statistics, an average person changes career five to seven times in their work life. With an increasing number of options and opportunities, every year 30% of the workforce change not only workplaces but also their line of work. This trend is fast gaining traction as many professionals feel that their careers are not aligned to their long-term aspirations. While money is a primary driver for some, there are other reasons as well. Common motives include pursuing passion or talent, the negative impact of an economic downturn, proclivity towards a new domain, lack of challenge in current role, etc. On the other hand,  former motivating factors such as being the care-giver for children or elderly parents is slowly giving way to newer ambitions of prioritizing health, working for social causes, freelancing to support finances and satisfying creativity, etc. Infact, one may have an average of ten careers by the age of 42.

career planning: things to consider before the switch

Career transition demands taking risks and moving out of one’s comfort zone. Exploring the best-fit career option calls for appropriate assessment and planning. It needs a lot of introspection to get a clear understanding of interests and passions. While the career option should be appropriate for the current situation but it should also be in accord with the individual’s future goals. Few questions that can make the decision easier are as follows:

  • career satisfaction:  According to a 2018 TimesJob survey of 1,100 professionals, 80% of employees were dissatisfied in their careers. Individuals dislike several facets of their jobs, namely, daily tasks, company culture, the boss, rigid timings, salary etc. It is important to evaluate the nature and level of discontent, to decide on the right career transition.
  • complementing skills, interests and values : As per Gartner, only 20% of employees have the requisite skills for their current and future roles.  Assessing the overall skills, strengths and limitations based on past roles, a thorough examination needs to be done on the gap between current and required skillsets. It is important to break free from own stereotyped notions.
  • alternate career options : Thorough research and brainstorming can help evaluate the right career alternatives as does reaching out to professional career counsellors. As per India skills report 2018 , about 17% of candidates seek help and build their career decisions based on advice from family and friends. 
  • online courses and trainings : According to Glassdoor , courses and certifications are a great way to display knowledge and interest in a career choice. Any form of workshop, trainings or seminars attended not only helps the candidate evaluate the landscape but also opens gateways for different opportunities. 
  • continuous learning:  Shadowing professionals in the desired field is a quick way to upgrade skills and is preferred over going back to regular school. Shadowing  from a few hours to few days and learning from the experts can be followed up with stretch assignments or mock tasks.

career transition: the first few steps 

imageCareer transition demands commitment to the process and careful planning, leveraging every opportunity with elan. Some of the key steps for a successful career change are elaborated below:

  • preparing a career change resume and cover letter: A career change resume focuses on ones contribution to the future job . Writing a cover letter that reflects personal ambitions and new goals is paramount. A career change resume is different from core occupation resume as it identifies complementary skills that can be leveraged.
  • applying to available jobs in the same industry: It is an advantage to begin in the same domain. For example, moving from a role of quality analyst to a communication consultant in the IT industry will be a smoother ride as one’s industry knowledge can be utilized.
  • taking a resolute plunge at interviews: Landing an interview is an indication of successful selling of the acquired skills on paper. Establishing the relevant experience and knowledge of the core area with strong data points is highly recommended. 
  • displaying confidence in trying out unexplored terrains: Demonstrating competence and seeking guidance in the face of challenges in the new role is important. To overcome initial unsteadiness one can consider reaching out to mentors and professional coaches within the ecosystem.

simplifying  career moves

Modern organizations realize the value of their employees’ individual development along with on-going business performance. Hence, managers foresee greater incentives in encouraging their direct reports to plan for transition and long-term goals. However, taking ownership for own career change requires not only meticulous contemplation but also a planned approach and diligent efforts. These can help realize career transition ambitions with a well-matched engagement.  A switch to a career of choice that suits one’s professional, personal or spiritual needs is a welcome move at any age.