Strategies for a Successful Career Change

Are you contemplating changing the trajectory of your career track and transitioning to a brand new field? It can seem like a daunting proposition for an executive who has spent years and possibly decades climbing the ladder in his/her chosen field to consider  moving into an unknown realm. The catalysts are varied, ranging from burnout and exhaustion, to boredom and a desire for a new challenge, to a lack of growth opportunities in a particular industry. Sometimes the transition takes the form of reconnecting with a brief early career in another field before an opportunity compelled the candidate to go in a different direction.

A career transition requires a careful assessment  of your motivations, future career goals, value proposition (a promise of value to be delivered to the employer), and strategic roadmap. Before making the leap, it’s important that you outline the steps required to successfully transition to a new opportunity that’s outside of your experience base. Consider that an executive moving to a new career path can expect a longer than average search, as you will be competing against candidates who already have experience in that field.

First ask yourself what is compelling you to consider a career change. Are you truly wanting a career do-over, or are there other motivating factors such as issues with your current role or employer? Rather than make a “cold” leap to a new career, and potentially lose ground in your current field, a more conservative option is to wage a dual search.  You can simultaneously explore a new opportunity in your field and the new target. This enables you to first test the waters and gauge the response before committing to a new career path. Time for a career change?

If you’ve made the decision to move in a new direction, here are a few tips to help you with your career transition:

Set Realistic Goals. Consider that it may not be possible to make the transition and remain at your current level of responsibility and/or compensation. A major career change – particularly a transition radically diverse from one’s current career path – may require taking a step backward (and possibly more than one) before building on the new career to ultimately reach the desired target role.  Ask yourself if you are prepared to – if not completely start over – begin at a lower level and work your way back up.

Prepare for the transition. If after assessing your situation and future career goals, and think you’d like to take the leap in a new direction, the next step is extensive research of your target role/field. Talk to people already working in the new field; find a mentor who can help guide you on your new path and help you develop a strategic roadmap and avoid pitfalls. Update your knowledge base and demonstrate your commitment to your new career path by attending seminars or training workshops, or pursue a new degree.

Ramp up your networking. Refresh and expand your online presence. Improve your visibility via the social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Update your social media Profiles to reflect your new career goals, and use these resources to connect with others in your target field. Utilize your existing network and avoid burning bridges; former colleagues can be important resources for making new connections.

Create a new career story. In order to compete with candidates who have direct experience in the field you’re just breaking into, you must provide a compelling, persuasive  argument as to why you are a strong candidate. The Hiring/HR Manager must be convinced that you are committed to your new career path, and although you’ve not held the target role, as an executive you have considerable transferable experience and skills that align well with the opportunity.

A career change requires a complete makeover of career marketing documents to align the candidate with the transition position. The approach, format, and style are very unique from that of a candidate seeking a lateral move or advancement in the same industry. Executive Resumes Atlanta can create for you a powerful , strategic career transition resume that can help open the door to a new fulfilling career!