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Charting Your Roadmap for a Successful Career Change

January 18, 2024 by Jeffrey Landau

Are you feeling stuck, unhappy, or unfulfilled in your current job? Do you want to pursue a different career path that aligns with your passions, skills, and values? If so, you are not alone. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 49% of workers have made a dramatic career shift at some point in their lives. However, changing careers is not an easy decision to make. It requires careful planning, preparation, and execution. Here are some steps to make it happen.

Jeff Landau blog image 1

Image Credit: Jeffrey Landau

1. Start with why

If you are bored, frustrated and are lacking a plan, then you need to have a clear understanding of why you want to make the shift. Ask yourself…

  • What are the reasons behind your dissatisfaction with your current job? 
  • What are the aspirations that drive you to seek a new career? 
  • How will changing careers improve your life and happiness? 
  • What are the downsides? 

Answering these questions will help you identify your motivation and purpose for making a career change. It will also help you stay focused and committed when you face challenges or setbacks along the way by giving you something tangible to reflect back on.

2. Get clear on what (and leverage what you did before)

Once you know why you want to change careers, you need to figure out what kind of career you want to pursue. 

  • What are the industries, sectors, or fields that appeal to you? 
  • What are the roles or positions that match your qualifications and expectations? 
  • What does the new position not look like?  

To answer these questions, you can leverage your career capital.  This includes talking to your old and new contacts, doing online research, reading books or articles, listening to podcasts, or taking online courses. You can also talk to people who work in the fields or roles that interest you and learn from them. Doing the research and having the information is deeply important. Without the knowledge, you may find yourself investing in a career change that does not actually align with your wants and values.

3. Determine what's it going to take

Jeff Landau blog image 2

Image Credit: Jeffrey Landau

After you have a clear idea of what kind of career you want to pursue, you need to determine what it's going to take to get there. 

  • What are the skills, knowledge, or credentials that you need to acquire or enhance for your new career? 
  • What are the gaps or weaknesses that you need to address or overcome? 
  • What are the resources or opportunities that you need to access or leverage? 

To answer these questions, you can review job descriptions, requirements, or postings for your target career. You can also consult with career coaches, mentors, or experts who can guide you and provide feedback.  

4. Make an action plan

Now that you know what it's going to take to achieve your career change goal, you need to make an action plan that outlines your primary goal, timeline, and milestones you will follow. Your action plan should include objectives that will help you track your progress and evaluate your results. Including needed resources as well as contingency plans will help you cope with potential challenges that may arise during your career change process.

5. Track the effort

As you execute your action plan, you need to track the effort that you put into your career change process. Doing so will help you monitor your performance and achievements, as well as identify areas for improvement. You can use tools such as spreadsheets, calendars, journals, or apps to record and review your activities, outcomes, and feedback. Metrics such as hours spent, tasks completed, skills learned, contacts made, or interviews secured are also great ways to measure your effort.  If you want to start simple, you can use a kanban board such as this.

Jeff Landau blog image 3

Image Credit: Jeffrey Landau

6. Shift your brand

Another important step in your career change process is to shift your brand from your current identity to your desired identity. Your brand is how you present yourself to others, and it should be updated to align your brand with your new career goal and to showcase your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. This is also how you can communicate your value proposition and unique selling points that differentiate you from other candidates.  A value proposition is a declarative statement that explains why a customer should purchase your product or service. If you were a Marketing Executive at a Specialty Company before and now you want to become an Executive Life Coach, who you are benefiting, and what you are selling is now totally different. For example, before you were selling a chemical raw material to a plastic producer but now you will be selling a service to professionals to improve their self awareness and leadership skills. This is a big shift in your brand.

7. Enlist help of your close network

Changing careers is not something that you can do alone. You need to enlist the help of your close network of family members, friends, colleagues, mentors, or coaches who can support you and assist you. Your close network can provide emotional support and encouragement when you feel stressed or discouraged. They can also provide practical support and assistance such as referrals, recommendations, or introductions that can facilitate your career change process.  When asking for help from your close network, be specific about the type of help you need.

8. Form a new network with the right people

In addition to relying on your close network, you also need to get to know passionate and successful people working within your new field of interest. The right people are those who work in the fields or roles that interest you or who have connections or influence in those areas. You can form this new network by attending events, workshops, seminars, or conferences related to your target career. Approach people by expressing genuine interest in what they do, give them authentic compliments on their accomplishments, or ask them questions that show you care about their journey. Another option is to join online communities where you can interact and exchange information with like-minded people.

Changing careers is a challenging but rewarding endeavor that can transform your life and happiness. By following these eight steps, you can increase your chances of achieving a successful career change.  Remember, it's never too late to pursue your dream career. 

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Jeffrey Landau is the founder of Business Challenges Consulting.  His mission is to help team leaders and managers realize their best results through coaching and facilitation.  After working more than 30 years in both large and small companies, Jeff started Business Challenges Consulting.  Jeff comes with a wealth of business and marketing consulting experience from his past work.  Jeff has recently received his ACC accreditation from the ICF.  In addition to Coaching and Facilitation, Jeff has several part time roles including Business Professor at Fordham University, Strategy and Product Management Instructor at the American Management Association, and Business Mentor at a non-profit organization, SCORE NYC.

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