5 Steps for an Effective Career Transition

By Raquel M. Arredondo
Associate Director, Outreach, Engagement & Professional Development, LeBow College of Business at Drexel University

Maybe you’re looking for a bigger salary, or just a change of pace. Regardless of how or why you’re interested in changing careers, transitioning doesn’t have to be daunting. You just need to be prepared to make the required effort. These five steps can help get your transition into a new career off the ground. 

Research

However you ended up at this crossroads, you have got to do your research before taking the dive. One of the first steps I recommend, especially if you’re thinking of switching fields, is to become familiar with the position and industry through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Information you should have before making any move: salary, job outlook, educational requirements, definition of the work involved, work environment and geographical data.  

Network

The number one tool for finding job opportunities is networking. You can apply through every job board out there, but the likelihood of receiving a meaningful response is very small. If you don’t already have a presence on LinkedIn you will need to create a strong profile and brand yourself for the industry you are looking to join.

Begin by conducting a LinkedIn search of the job title you’re interested in and review the profiles of professionals in that field. Look at where they are working, what industry terms and buzz words are they using and what associations they join to get an understanding of what the industry leaders are doing and who they are connected with.

Then connect with these folks through LinkedIn; send a personal note in your invitation expressing your interest in networking within their industry and asking for the opportunity to learn more about their career path. Not everyone will respond. However, if you don’t take the chance, you won’t connect with anyone. 

Affiliate

As you do your research and connect with people, you’ll hear about events and organizations that support the industry that you are interested in. Consider joining a local chapter of a national industry organization and/or attending a local event specifically for folks in that industry. These associations are clearinghouses for industry trends, insights and job opportunities. Attending meetings and events can help you develop relationships and give you access to individuals who can advocate on your behalf.

Volunteer

People love getting work done for free. Why not use a volunteer opportunity as a way to stretch your muscles? Think of community and special interest groups that coordinate events. If you are interested in marketing, get on the marketing committee for a local group. Test the waters, connect with folks in that field and flex your marketing muscle. You may not only find affirmation of your career interest/passion;  you may also add relevant content to your résumé.

Update Your Résumé

For someone looking to transition, it is especially critical to highlight transferable skills and experiences so that a hiring manager will want to investigate further through an interview. This is where having an understanding of the job requirements, knowledge of industry buzz words, association memberships and volunteer project experience all come into play.

It is critical to include a cover letter to explain your qualifications for this new industry as well. Keep in mind that the first place hiring managers will look once they are intrigued by your résumé will be your LinkedIn profile so be sure to complete, clean-up and showcase your industry qualifications there, too!

The bottom line is that it will take some effort on your part to transition into a new industry whether you are transitioning “cold” or leveraging an advanced degree or certification. Take the time to map out a timeline, then follow it.


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