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Want to change your career? Simple tips to help you figure out what's next for you.

Occasionally, someone will ask me how I managed to transform my career. If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know that my career began as an Administrative Assistant. While I had the opportunity to support some amazing leaders, I knew at some point I wanted to do something more. The challenging part of knowing I wanted more, was not knowing exactly what more was. It took some time, a lot of soul searching, and I even had to do some educating of myself to figure out if I had the capacity to do something different. I will say that it didn't happen overnight, and if I had it to do all again, I would definitely approach my transition differently. My career migration took a few years. I had some natural progression via work promotions. I even had organizational changes that dropped me in roles that I may or may not have wanted to be in. Eventually, I had to take charge of the direction I was headed to land on the path that I designed. As I think about what ultimately put me on a path to career-happiness, a few critical activities stand out as true game-changers.

1. Know what you DON'T want to do? - while I wasn't certain in the beginning what I wanted to do; I knew exactly what I didn't want to do anymore. Looking at my current role(s), while for most of them, I had skills that made me good at them, I didn't enjoy several aspects of them. When trying to understand what’s next for you, it's important to know what about your current situation, makes you want to do something different. If you are not clear on what’s broken, you are doomed to repeat it again.

2. Complete a skills assessment - This is a fancy way to figure out what you can do. Do you have any specialized or technical skills that would transfer out of your current role into another? A simple exercise is to create a list of your current skills. Then create a list of the skills required for roles you may be interested in.

This gives you an idea of what it's going to take to accomplish what you want to do. Professional social media sites like LinkedIn also have a built-in self-assessment attached to your profile page, if you're interested I strongly suggest taking a look. If you're not on LinkedIn, take some time to peruse and see if that will work for you.

3. Create a road-map with actionable steps- A road map is a timeline, but instead of noting every incremental step, it focuses on key milestones. For example, it's almost February 1st. Let’s say by the end of February you want to have completed and refined your skills assessment and update your resume. Then by the end of March, you want to identify contacts in that field so you can begin networking. The last date on your road-map should be the date you hope to transition into your new career. Keep in mind that it may not happen as quickly as you would like, so build yourself some time to do the work required to get the results you want.

4. Fill in your educational blanks - Does your new role require additional skills or education? This doesn't mean going back to college (although it could). It could be brushing up on your existing learnings. Obtaining a new certification or adding to your reading library to get familiar with current trends. The goal is to make yourself as competitive as possible. Consider sites like Udemy or for eLearning. There are several online eLearning resources to choose from. I've listed some below:

• Khan

• Academy

• Coursera

• Skillshare

• Udacity

• Masterclass

• Pluralsight

• Codecademy

You can also check out YouTube. You can always find free online how-to content, lesson plans, or other helpful career resources.

5. Volunteer - Free labor is EXCELLENT experience. Depending on what you want to transition to, volunteering gives you a real-world "day in the life" experience. This will solidify for you if the next role is the right role.

6. Start re-branding yourself - You must see yourself where you are going. So, it will mean that you need to begin to market yourself towards your future goals. Start highlighting those skills that you plan to transfer into the next opportunity. When updating your resume and professional social media sites, make sure you pull those skills to the forefront. There are some great resume templates out there. You can start here.

7. Update your professional social media page and start networking - Update your LinkedIn page with your new goals, resume, and skills. It's a great way of announcing to recruiters that you are interested in exploring new opportunities. Once you've done this, start engaging by networking with others of similar background and subscribing to pages that interest you. Also, consider local networking groups around your hometown. For example, I know several local brewery's that host run and network groups after hours. It might sound like strange bedfellows, but several of my former co-workers got hired in new roles because they met their new manager at a run club..anything is possible. Your local gyms, libraries, and churches could also be great networking resources.

8. Find a mentor - In every stage of my career transition, I looked for someone who had accomplished what I wanted to. I would ask for their advice and welcome their feedback. This would often lead to other mentoring relationships or networking opportunities. I make it a point to limit my mentoring relationships to individuals that would stretch me. You need someone that will push you beyond where you think you are capable. So that might mean looking outside of your comfortable peer group.

9. When it's time, take the interview - At some point, you'll get an interview. TAKE IT! The first interview can come as a shock. Especially if it happens sooner than expected (and sometimes it will). You might feel that you’re not ready to begin having conversations about your next move, but keep in mind that’s EXACTLY what you’ve been preparing for. Once you update your professional pages and your resume, recruiters will start to call. Even if those interviews don’t materialize into a new opportunity, it doesn’t matter. You will learn what to expect from interviewers and chances are you’ll receive valuable feedback or notes around changes to your resume or talking points. Your early interviews can serve as a practice to get you reacquainted with interviewing again. Something else to be aware of is that most of those recruiters might be from Consulting and Contracting firms. Don't reject those opportunities. Contracting is a good way to explore opportunities without the long-term commitment. It's also a great way (the best way in my opinion), to gain hands-on experience in a specific field. Most contracted assignments are 6-12 months. This is to your advantage and can serve as paid on the job training in some respects. Contracting isn't what it was years ago, and experiences can be overwhelmingly beneficial. You get the opportunity to “try-on” an organization before accepting a permanent position. There are a lot more agencies with skilled recruiters, many of who have specialized areas they focus on. This allows them to market your skills to companies they have prior relationships with. I've established some amazing recruiting relationships over the years that have allowed me to refer job seekers that are interested in a career change. Which brings me to my next point -

10. Consider contracts, short-term or temporary options - This option may not work for everyone but is one I highly recommend that people consider. While there may be some sacrifices, these opportunities sometimes offer higher hourly wages than your traditional FTE (Full Time Employee) opportunities. Many contract assignments offer benefits like retirement and medical. If those are important for you, consider this type of opportunity as you are working on your transition plan.

11. Quit your job - Yep, I said what I said. This isn't for everyone. But sometimes you can't fully embrace where you're going while holding so tight to where you are. This option may require some planning. I did this. It was the most frightening thing I think I've ever had to do. I had about 3 to 5 months of living expenses with all my savings. I was aggressive and knew that I had to secure something in 90 days. I decided to set this 90-day target as my personal goal to ensure I didn't lose focus on my aspirations. If you decide to do this...count the cost. Don't make this decision overnight and try to plan as much as possible. I can truly say this was the most (in the end) rewarding decision I've made as it pertains to my career. Most people I knew thought I was crazy, but I didn't care. I believed in me. I also had an amazing support system that held me close while I walked out on this tightrope.

12. Don't beat yourself up – If this is truly something that you are interested in doing, be open to the journey. Know that this, as with anything with an expected return, will have some risk involved. You’re going to have days where it doesn’t seem like anything is happening and you might even feel that it’s a bad decision and you shouldn’t try to make this change. Don’t give up on yourself. If you believe you deserve better, then you absolutely deserve better. Take time to practice self-care. Meditate, pray, go for walks, exercise, do something charitable, read a book, journal watch a movie, drink a glass of wine. Do something to de-stress. And don’t ignore how you feel. If you are nervous or afraid, it’s normal. But acknowledge those feelings so you don’t become overwhelmed or discouraged. It will be a challenge but I know from experience… it will be worth it.

I believe that anyone can have a career they design. Just know that the design process is different for everyone. Don't get discouraged, don't give up. You can have the change you want. Stay the course. Change is afoot!

these are absolutely my thoughts...



*Disclaimer - The thoughts contained in these posts are my own. The advice and tips shared are based on my experience as a working professional. As a certified career and organizational coach, I do share this knowledge with my clients. I do not guarantee any particular results, as results and experiences will vary. Some of my blog content is for entertainment purposes only. Nothing in my blog is intended to be used to diagnose or treat any emotional, mental, or medical condition. For that, please see the appropriate professional. For additional information, please refer to the Terms of this site.

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