Brownbag Lectures

10 Things to do in a Career Transition

A female student working on a laptop

Transitioning to a new career might seem like a scary process, but with the proper strategy,  it can be a great learning experience that will benefit your earning potential for decades.

Getting a job requires a plan of attack. For example, in the classic movie The Karate Kid, Daniel asks Mr. Miyagi o teach him how to win a fight. The master then has Daniel go through a series of small tasks. To the Daniel, these tasks feel unnecessary and useless. But because Daniel went through them, he learned the proper techniques that later help him defeat his opponent.

Just like the Karate Kid, you too need to create a strategy that will result in a win for you.

Here are 10 things you can do in a career transition that will help you create a winning strategy:

1- Assess your skills and interests

Assess what aspects or qualities of your current job you enjoy and thrive in the most. While in your current position, take time to vet out those aspects even further. What you might find is  that there is a career out there that is more catered toward those aspects of your current job.

2- Identify the gap. What skills/education are you missing?

While you’re exploring the aspects of your job that you enjoy, think about which skills might better help you complete these tasks. By identifying these gaps, you might find that some schooling may be required to help you master these skillsIn addition, ask others in your industry what skills will help you accelerate your career in the direction you want to go.

3- Research your ideas on a new career

Using others’ feedback, and thinking about what skills you’re missing, do some research about what educational opportunities are available. By doing that, you can start to think about what type of career you would like to transition into, and what the next best steps are to make it happen.

4- Confirm salary ranges for your new career (Can you afford to make that jump?)

Consider salary ranges in the career you are considering. Also, consider the location of your new job as ranges will vary depending on location. Make sure the range falls into something you’re comfortable with before you make the change.

5- Get training/education through certifications, a new degree, fellowships, internships.

Once you’ve decided to take the leap, start by getting the proper training you need to make the transition. Think about education as an investment in yourself. Sometimes fellowships or internships are a great way to learn about the trade and get your foot in the door at a company without having to go back to school.

6- Network, especially those who are doing what you want to do.

Networking is key in any profession. Finding jobs is always easier when you have a colleague that is rooting for you. You can connect with new individuals in your desired field by showing interest in their work and finding areas of commonalities. State clearly to your network what your intentions are and how much you appreciate their help in the process.

7- Get involved in professional associations, schools, and nonprofits.

This is another way you can start building your network. Get involved in as many associations as possible so that you can meet more people, show them your skills, and find new job opportunities.

8- Seek the support of a mentor.

By seeking mentors on various boards and in different industries, you are setting yourself up for success. They can help you understand which skills you need to continue to develop and potentially set you up with job opportunities.

9- Edit your resume. Ensure transferable skills support your new career.

Constantly be searching for job positions that you like. Before applying, do your homework. Once you have a good idea of who the company is looking for, build your resume. Using the right terminology (this can be found in the descriptions of jobs you are applying to) will help you stand out among other applicants.  

10- Seek opportunities. Create a consulting business or volunteer your services to gain experience.

Be open to every opportunity to share your skills with people. Sometimes that may require you to take an internship, or volunteer your services. The more willing you are  to share your skills, the more likely people will be able to find your skills useful to their business, which can result in you finding a job opportunity.

Remember, creating a strategy will help you achieve your goals, and this also applies to transitioning careers. So, before you make the leap, make a plan for success – you’ll be glad you did.

CJ Harris is the manager of talent acquisition and organizational development for Luminex Corporation.