A guide to career transition

7 Steps to a successful career transition


New beginnings are often characterized by a promising, hopeful, and anxious feeling. Career transition is no different. It is a daunting and risky process as it has the potential to greatly affect an individual’s future. The transition can happen in various ways such as moving to a  new career in the same industry or a new career in a different industry. Some transitions may require one to learn a new skill set while in others some skills may be transferable. As you think or begin your transition process, here is a roadmap to navigate your personal path to a successful career transition.

  1. Evaluate the Why?

Start by asking yourself the reason behind wanting to change careers. Dig deep inside you to come up with a good enough answer to convince yourself as you may encounter some scrutiny during the process The most common ones are career dissatisfaction, increased earning potential in the new career, a decline of passion in the current field, the pursuit of new challenges, and the pursuit of a better work-life balance. 

Evaluate whether your core reason for the transition calls for a career change or job change. For example,  a reason like increased earning potential, evaluate your current earnings vs future earnings in your current career, Look into your current contract evaluate how you negotiated your worth? Evaluate the likelihood of your earning potential increasing if you move to a better company and negotiated better. If you still want to transition, evaluate the new career’s overall compensation, the period of time it will take to reach where you hope to reach, the cost of education, and personal development, and also the market trends, that is how relevant your new career will be in the coming years.

2. The timing should be right

You don’t just wake up and decide it is time to move to another career. You also do not decide on career transition on your first job or when nearing retirement. You should do it when you are mentally ready to go through the process. The process is often filled with fear of unknown and internal and external judgment, all the more reason to choose the right time. A plan to guide you is highly recommended as well as avoiding deadlines to keep the process positive and pressure-free

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3. Remove Obstacles

During the transition,  there will be internal and external obstacles.  Internal obstacles may be in the inform of thinking you are too old or late for the transition, Not knowing where to start, The anguish of starting from the bottom, and lack of courage. External obstacles comprise of cost of going back to school and lack of support for people who really matter in your life. Whatever the obstacle, a shift in mindset is needed. Put more faith in your capabilities and think of success rather than failure.

4. Plan the move 

Start the planning process by assessing your skills and strength, Make note of past successes, achievements, and strengths to see what attributes are transferable. Assess your past roles and responsibility to see what roles you are good at. You can even ask colleagues for peer review to better understand yourself. Mentors will also come in handy at this stage of the process for support and guidance.

Volunteering in the area you want to venture into helps in planning the move. It helps familiarize with the career and identifying preferred activities and skills. It also helps build career confidence in a low-pressure environment. Conduct informational interviews with individuals already in the industry to collect relevant data about the career field. Get to know the existing barriers of entry, salary projection, industry culture, upcoming trends, and projects that may interest you. 

At this stage, there is an opportunity of looking into alternative careers with the help of a career counselor and checking out job options comparing the different companies and their cultures. In a nutshell, this is the period to research both your strength and the prospect’s career. Thereafter, create a change strategy to guide you through the transition.

Stepping onto a brand new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation that is not nurturing to the whole of you.- Maya Angelou

5. Reskill  and upgrade your skills

If moving to a new career in a new industry, chances are you will need to develop new skills. Look out for learning materials and training opportunities that will assist in bridging the gap between your former career and the new one. Also, let the learning be continuous such that even after you have found your place in the new career, Keep on learning to perfect your skills.

6. Make the move

You are now ready to make the move. At this point, your personal brand should indicate that you are in tune with the new career. It should make sense and be appealing to your new target audience. Your CV, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile should make sense for the roles you are applying for in the new career. Look for a logical selling point and use it to stand out from competitors who might have been in the industry for a longer period than you.

7. Network, Network, Network

Be intentional about the new career by being in touch with the right people. Familiarise yourself with passionate or successful people working in the new field and link up with them for advice or input. The good thing is you do not have to start from scratch, you can leverage on your already existing network from the old career to introduce you to the right people in the new career. 

Change has always been terrifying but you now have a starting point to make the transition you’ve always wanted. Give yourself the permission to get on a new path and explore what is out there.

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