switch careersAs many of you know, I got a new job about nine months ago and it’s been going great. I think back at my old job and think about how I lacked a career path or a bright future. I was stuck in a dead-end job while finishing grad school, but that no longer applies. I’ve already explained the reason for switching jobs, but part of the reason that I made the switch was to have a career path with potential advancement. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t enjoy what I did that much – at least not enough to make me excited to get out of work each day.

That’s what initiated the change, but not how I made the leap. When I was looking at other jobs, the one thing that I did not want to do is take a step backwards. Switching career paths often means exactly that, and it makes sense. Employers want relevant work experience, and when you switch careers, it often means that you are lacking that same thing. While I wanted to change careers, the last thing I wanted was another entry-level position. I had done that enough. Luckily, for me, I had a few advantages that helped me successfully switch careers.

How to Successfully Switch Careers

To say that I am an expert in human resources would be a lie. While I still have a perfect record (obtaining every job that I interview for) and do some things right, I’m not the foremost expert on what it takes to transition careers. However, with that disclosure aside, I did successfully switch careers, get more than a 10% pay increase, and jump into a management position. That’s no easy feat – for anyone. Here’s how I did it…

Keep a Positive Relationship with Your Current Employer

If you find yourself looking to switch careers, you may be tempted to burn your bridges and start fresh. This is the last thing you should do. When I started looking for other jobs, I kept it a secret. I was good friends with my immediate supervisor and while it was difficult not to tell him fully, I knew that it would only complicate things at the time. I made sure to continue my solid work ethic. While I could suggest that this only motivated out of self-interest and a good recommendation, it’s just not who I am in to slack off (that much). I continued to exceed expectations and it paid off in the long run.

Develop Valuable Experience

Keeping a good relationship with your current employer is only a small part of it. The next part is making yourself attractive in the new career that you are pursuing. Unless you have relevant work experience, odds are that you will need to do something to beef up your resume. I fortunately stumbled into it. Almost two years ago, I started blogging. (Side note: Wow, where did the time go) This was one of the best things I could do for myself. Not only did I learn so much about managing websites, but I also developed a valuable and translatable skill. Being a technology-guru (as those in my new job call me – little do they know…) is a huge advantage for me. If I am honest with myself, it is a huge reason why I have the job that I do.

I don’t think everyone should start blogging, but I do think that if you are looking to switch career paths, you need to develop a valuable skill (or skills). Technology is a great place to start. Without a basic knowledge, you will be left behind in the workplace and may even be pushed out for lack of efficiency. I know that my current employer was looking for someone with my skills and ambition. I wouldn’t have been hired if it were not for me taking the initiative and learning something new. It may seem like a long shot, but you never know what good can come of a new hobby or interest. If you find yourself saying, I wish I would know how to do this or that, why not spend some of your free time teaching yourself. With the internet, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to teach yourself something.

When it may have been easier for me to switch careers because I am still young and had a lot of valuable skills, I honestly believe that anyone can do the same if you put your mind to it. It may sound cliche, but it beats the alternative of continuing to work a job that you either hate or that has no future. Part of this is built out of my strong belief that you should enjoy what you do, but I think that the world would be a much better place if people followed their dreams.

Have you ever considered a career change? What’s holding you back?

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