Career Changers – Top 20 Tips To Reinvent Your Career In Life And At Expos
Sue hosted the 120 Ways Publishing Exhibition Stand at the Reinvent Your Career Expo in Melbourne on 25 and 26 June 2016 and conducted a seminar presentation on the Top 20 Ways To Achieve Your Purpose With LinkedIn on Sunday 26 June 2016 at 11am – you can check out the PowerPoint Slides, Audio, Video and Photos here.
The following article was printed in the Reinvent Your Career Expo Guide (3MB) given to guests who attend this free careers event at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Convention Place, South Wharf, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3006.
Top 20 Tips for Career Changers
It can take a lot of courage to change your career. It could be instigated by circumstance (family, expatriation, migration, retrenchment, illness) or choice, but either way, it can be a significant transition that can either go well or not so well.
Like any challenge in life, a strategy will help. If you have been retrenched or dismissed, remember you are not the first or last person to go through this process. In fact, I can honestly say that being sacked was one of the best things that has ever happened to me – because I would not be doing what I love now if that did not happen!
- It is important to be realistic when considering a career change
If you have taken 10 years to build your current skill set and you want to change directions completely, you cannot expect to be equally proficient or equally remunerated by tomorrow. You could find yourself adjusting to a lower income, having a happier life or living in a more authentic manner. A short term sacrifice could lead to long term happiness. Reflect on your core values and your purpose to make sure that any future direction is aligned with your core beliefs.
- Manage your risk as you go through a career change
As a way of mitigating some of the risk, go through this process on a gradual basis. Firstly, fully investigate your dream roles – all the ins and outs – the study requirements, the market opportunities (looking for specific data and trends) and the realities. If possible, get some real life experience in your chosen vocation (even if it is on a voluntary basis), find a mentor in the industry and speak to other people who are already in the field.
- Understand why you want to change your career
It could be that you are currently working with a boss you hate, but you love the work you do. Is it really necessary to change your entire career? Perhaps you only need to change your employer – or learn better ways to work with your manager.
- Make your transition in stages
I am a strong believer in making transitions in stages. A first step is much better than a huge leap. For example, I have seen too many corporate executives go into a franchised business and fail – because they haven’t understood how different that type of work is to what they have done in the past.
- Don’t fall into victim mode
I have seen several people fall into victim mode. If you didn’t want to change careers and you have not been working (either paid or voluntary) for some time, you can start to believe that there is something wrong with you, lose your confidence and start making excuses as to why you can’t secure the opportunity you would like. It will take a few steps to get you out of this cycle, not a magic pill and a huge leap. If you are in this situation, I would definitely encourage you to start with a small step into voluntary or part time work to gradually rebuild your employability and confidence as you re-adjust to a new way of working.
- Remember, it is never too late
If you have been out of the workforce for some time (by choice or circumstance) or you are over the age of 45, you may start to believe you are unemployable or ‘too old’ for an opportunity. I believe that it is NEVER too late to work. You may choose to work in a different way after many years of life experience. You may not want to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, but you might be interested in working 8 hours a day for 3 days a week – using your brains rather than your brawn. You may like to read my article about being a ‘guru’ or a ‘dinosaur’ at https://sueellson.com/publications
- Keep your LinkedIn Profile up to date
95% of decision makers will Google you before offering you employment – and LinkedIn ranks particularly well in search results for names. Put your best foot forward and really make your LinkedIn Profile shine so that when a decision maker reads your story, they say ‘hell yes’ – this person is the right fit for us! Explain any employment gaps in an appropriate way.
- Tailor your resume or CV for each job
Whilst your LinkedIn Profile can tell the whole story, your resume needs to tell the story related to each specific job opportunity. Remember that in many cases, your resume will go through a computer Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and the ATS will be doing a lot of the evaluation automatically – so make sure that you include your keywords – a slightly longer resume (that is easy to read) will serve you better than a short resume without your keywords.
- Update your online content
If you only have a LinkedIn Profile or you have Facebook, a blog, your own website, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+ and more, you need to make sure that the content online is congruent with your values and purpose in the employment world. If LinkedIn tells a professional story and Facebook shows you as drunk at parties every weekend, it may be difficult to convince a decision maker that you are the right person for the job. Conversely, a good quality online presence can attract exactly the right opportunities (especially if you have a great portfolio of past achievements).
- Personalise your efforts
In a world that seems to be driven by technology, it is interesting to note that up to 95% of jobs are never advertised and up to 85% of business is done by referral. Don’t assume that the only way to get work is to apply online through job advertisements – that process is severely limiting your potential. I believe that the three best ways to find work are through networking, referrals and voluntary work – so get out there and start talking to people!
- Account Manage your job search process
You really need to develop a thorough system for changing your career using multiple concurrent strategies – not one technique in isolation. You could even start a spreadsheet and keep notes on all of the activities you are doing. Start networking and going to events, meet people and ask for referrals, find voluntary work in your field, make phone calls, work with a mentor etc. You also need to be very consistent and persistent. Always say thank you to everyone you meet and if you receive a referral, go back to the referrer afterwards and let them know what happened. Follow up, follow up, follow up. That is really important!
- Build your network
I am convinced that the only security we have nowadays is the value of our network (I don’t believe any job is ‘secure’). So always aim to build your personal (sport, hobby or interest), professional (work related) and social (friends and family) networks so that these people can support you through your career change.
- Keep taking action
It can be very easy to lose faith and become despondent throughout a career change process. If you have ‘battle tested’ some options before leaving a past career, that is less risky. I knew someone who always wanted to quit their job and open a small café and yet they had never even worked in a café! If this person had spent some time working in a café on a temporary basis first, they could absolutely qualify their decision, be fully aware of the challenges and make a logical decision. The only time failure occurs is
when you give up. Everything else
is simply a learning experience.
- No time is ever wasted
I have met people who changed their career and then decided to go back to what they were doing before. This is not a failure. They will not die wondering what it ‘would have been like’ – they have given it a chance. You may find that you have to do a ‘boring’ job to pay the bills whilst you pursue your true vocation – even the boring job has been helpful – because it enabled you to keep paying the bills and you may have also been working with people that you really liked. Don’t assume that you must have a perfect life to be happy. If it is 80% perfect, that is good enough! If you find someone who has a 100% perfect life, tell me!
- Consider working with a mentor, coach, adviser or career development professional
I spent three years of my life reading books on ‘doing what you love,’ ‘finding my purpose in life,’ and ‘identifying my strengths.’ It would have been a whole lot simpler if I went to a career development professional to gain some clarity and then work with a mentor, coach and/or adviser to help me complete the necessary steps. Just because information is so easily available, it doesn’t mean that we can make wise decisions in an area outside of our expertise. In my situation, I could have got a lot further in three hours with a professional than I did in three years!
- Keep learning, growing and supporting your industry and profession
If you are working and paying the bills and enjoying a reasonable social life, it can be very easy to fall into the plateau trap and not keep growing and developing as a person. Our modern society is changing so quickly, you must make every effort to keep learning and growing to keep up with all the changes and maintain your relationships with other people in your industry and profession. Consider paying for professional membership and remember to mention this in the Certifications section on your LinkedIn Profile and mention it on your resume. Think about ways you can build your own personal brand so you can attract opportunities.
- Praise and collaborate – there is enough for everyone
In the past, people would try and collect and protect their knowledge, assets and power. The world has become much more democratic now that information can be shared so easily, so it is time to change the way we operate. Be willing to acknowledge other people’s achievements and congratulate them. Be willing to share what you know to help others. Be willing to collaborate so that everyone wins. You will gain more opportunities by being willing to give than receive. Just make your values and purpose clear along the way so that others know how they can assist you in return.
- Have a life outside of your work
If you are worried about your career or finances, it can be very easy to forget about ‘smelling the roses’ or appreciating what you already have. Acknowledge what you can be grateful for – your ability to see and read this article, your friends and family, your past achievements, a sunny day. Eat healthy food and exercise regularly
– but most of all, make sure
you have some fun.
- Be courageous
Courage beats comfort. A small challenge for someone else could be a huge challenge for you. If you are able to recognise this and overcome your fear and move forward, you are very courageous. It could be something as simple as making a phone call or it could be as huge as transitioning to semi-retirement. The most important thing to remember is that if you are overcoming what you fear (and you can ask for help along the way), you can push through your fears, complete tasks, acknowledge your achievements and keep moving forward – you are a success!
- Keep smiling
The universal language of the world, across all cultures and continents, is a smile! J Regardless of what happens, keep smiling. Smile when you wake up, when you see someone, when you change your thoughts, every time you start something new, every time something good or even bad happens, just remember to smile. This too shall pass. It may be awful along the way, in fact, it could feel really dreadful, but a smile can help you gather up your courage and keep going – and I can assure you, other people will respond to you much more positively!