I previously shared the story of how I moved from a dead-end job I wasn’t enjoying to a new career field that I loved. Below are seven specific actionable tips that I followed – and you can too – as part of my career-changing journey.
You aren’t going to grow and improve yourself if you don’t accept responsibility for it – and take action. If there is a dream job you would like to have someday, saying “I don’t know how” isn’t a good reason to be held back.
You can find a TON of websites online covering almost every topic.
There are also a lot of guided online learning options. Here are just two that I’m familiar with:
Udemy – like their “Complete iOS 10 Developer Course – Build 21 Apps” which is very popular. Learn how to develop iPhone apps and you’re almost certain to be able to find work in that field. They also have courses on Photoshop, graphic design, WordPress, accounting, and much more. It’s also very affordable and definitely worth checking out.
I’ve taken multiple development courses through Udemy and have been very impressed with the quality.
Lynda (a LinkedIn company) – Similarly Lynda has courses for development, business, marketing, design – and many others. I haven’t use Lynda directly, but they’re a respectable option – backed by LinkedIn, and now Microsoft. I would compare their courses to Udemy to see which might make more sense for you.
2. Put the study to work
Frankly, just reading some information doesn’t really prepare you to do anything. If you are going to study marketing, go market something (like “yourself” – the best opportunity for a marketer!). If you’re going to study development, develop something! You can create apps on almost any computer anymore.
The point is, do something. Just like I did. Learn something then apply that knowledge. You will retain the information much better. You will then have produced a result that you can show to a potential employer.
This really is key. Far too many people take some courses or some tests just for the sake of passing something and saying they finished it. The goal should be to learn. You want to be able to provide genuine value to a potential employer.
3. Look for experience opportunities
There are a ton of ways to gain experience today. You can even do it while retaining any current employment you might have. Sure, that could mean working nights and weekends, but what is a career change worth to you? Certainly allocating some of your spare time to this would be a worthwhile long-term benefit.
Understand too that “experience” doesn’t always have to be paid work. Trust me. I ran a company that hired many dozens of employees over the years. If someone didn’t have direct work experience, but they were excited enough about the type of work that they did it in their free time, that was a huge bump in their favor.
Some specific pre-career change experience ideas:
- You can create a blog and write about what you are learning. Who knows, maybe you can even make some money on the side doing this. Affiliate marketing is a real thing.
- You can volunteer somewhere. Use your newly developed skills at your local church or other non-profit. Or perhaps find a small business that could use your assistance and volunteer to work for free. You never know, these types of situations sometimes turn into paid engagements… or it could potentially motivate you to decide to work for yourself as a freelancer.
- You can get a part-time job in the new field. Back to the nights and weekends here. It’s very viable. I know – I did it. I also know others who have done it. Check out some of the popular job sites (or just Google) to see what options might be available to you.
Consider one step back for three steps forward
This is definitely a challenge, but I did it. Others have done it too.
First, make sure you have a plan in place – otherwise, this option could lead to disaster.
Second though, with a proper plan in place, sometimes it makes sense to take a job that is less than ideal. Perhaps the hours aren’t great. Maybe the pay isn’t great. It could be that the work really isn’t something you love.
But if it is in the field where you hope to move with your career change, then it just might be worth taking a chance on the position. Again, make sure you have a plan. Be sure part of that plan is to move on to the type of position you REALLY want to do long-term.
4. Have good support
There is no way I could have made the change I did without my wonderful wife’s support.
You need support too.
It doesn’t have to be a spouse. It can be family or friends. But you need someone. People who will encourage you and cheer you on. A group that will keep you motivated and focused on the bigger picture and long-term goal.