My very first job out of high school was a waitress. Over the course of about 6 years, I worked at several different restaurants. From sports bars to fine dining, I had pretty much seen and done it all when it came to the restaurant industry. From the outside, it looked like I loved my job. All my customers adored me; they even followed me when I switched restaurants. My managers appreciated me; some even hired me back after I quit. My co-workers were amazing, some who I am still friends with to this day. And on top of that, I made great money; enough to pay my bills, save, and go on weekly shopping sprees.
Seems like the perfect job, right? Then why on the inside, did I feel so unsatisfied? Although I was very good at my job, I felt like something was missing. I was tired of being a waitress and wanted to do something else outside of the restaurant industry.
I struggled for years to make my career switch. This was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult periods of my life. I made a ton of mistakes and accepted a handful of jobs that ended up being nothing but scams. I vividly remember, being so frustrated and wanting to give up. Eventually, though, I came out on the other side and now have a job that I love on the outside AND the inside. But it wasn’t easy.
Career changes are hard, but they are 100% possible. From my personal experience and a now recruiter, I want to share with you 6 tips that I wish someone would have shared with me during my big switch. These tips will not only make your career change smooth but also, SUCCESSFUL.
Find your WHY and your WHAT.
Why do you want to switch careers? What isn’t working for you? Why are you unhappy with your current career? What does your ideal job look like to you? Why do you think this new career will make your quality of life better? Is it flexibility? Better pay? Shorter commute? Family work-life balance? What are you passionate about? These are all questions you should be asking yourself. You need to be clear on your WHYs and your WHATs so that you don’t end up in a different career, but still unhappy. Trust me on this, and do not skip this tip. Doing this would have prevented me from taking on a lot of jobs that I ended up hating even more than my original one.
Find your transitional skills and update your resume.
If you’re switching careers, chances are your current resume will need to be revamped as you search for jobs in your new field. I know you’re probably thinking you can’t revamp your resume because you have no experience or skills yet in the new field. Well, I am here to tell you that is wrong and you ABSOLUTELY DO! They are called transferable skills.
Transferable skills are abilities that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life, whether that be professionally or socially. For example, some of the skills I gained while waitressing were customer service, problem-solving, communication, and attention to detail. Even though I am no longer a waitress, I still use those same skills in my job today as a recruiter.
Write a list of skills you’ve acquired in your current career and a list of skills that are needed for your desired career, then see which ones match. I guarantee you will find a ton. Then instead of creating a chronological resume (a resume that highlights your job history from most recent to eldest), I would recommend creating a functional resume. Functional resumes focus solely on your skills and experiences, and that’s where those transitional skills will come in handy! Chronological resumes are no good for someone who is switching careers because a hiring manager/recruiter is not going to look at your resume if you have a list of waitressing jobs, but you’re applying to be a teacher. A functional resume is what got me noticed and is what will get you noticed. Be on the lookout for a post coming soon on how to create a bomb functional resume!
Find out the requirements.
Transitional skills are helpful, but sometimes there are requirements needed to get into the career you truly desire. A lot of jobs require you to have some type of certification, license and/or training, such as the real estate or the healthcare industry. Research the career you’re interested in. One of the best ways to do this is to look up job descriptions. Every job description has a requirements section; read it and find out what things are mandatory for the job.
Sometimes it may not be a certification, license or training but rather skills such as knowledge of a specific program. If that’s the case, I highly recommend looking up tutorials on YouTube or Lynda. Lynda offers online courses by industry experts in Business, Software Development, Design, Photography, and so much more. I’ve used Lynda to brush up on my Excel skills and learn how to use new programs. They offer a 30-day free trial, so I definitely recommend trying them out!
Network your ass off.
9 times out of 10 you will not switch into the career you want by applying to positions on job search engines like, Indeed, ZipRecruiter or Career Builder. I am not saying you shouldn’t use them because there are some amazing opportunities posted on there. But you need to remember, EVERYONE and their mama are also using those sites. What you should be doing is meeting new people. And today, social media makes it sooo easy.
Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that have to do with the career field you want (btw if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile you need to create one RIGHT NOW). Look up conferences in your area and go to them. Eventbrite is a great website for this. Do you know someone who is already in the career field you want? Call them, message them, text them, email them. Ask them questions about how they got to where they are today.
Even if you don’t know someone personally, the internet is your best friend. Find people who are passionate and successful working within your new field of interest and reach out! Talk to them, interview them, get to know them. Make sure they know your name. You want to be the first person they think of when an opportunity arises. If they are in the career field you want, guess what? They know other people who are too. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, that statement is 100% true. Who I knew had a significant impact on me getting the job I have now. Try to make it your goal to connect with 5 new people every day.
Test the waters.
Before you quit your job and jump into a new career, you need to test the waters first. You want to be sure that this is the career you want so that you don’t find yourself back at square one. Remember your network we talked about earlier? Ask those people if you can shadow them or possibly become an intern. That way you can really get a feel for what the job looks like on a day to day basis. Or offer to volunteer. Want to be an event planner? Look up events in your area and see if you can volunteer to help out during the event. People are always looking for free help. Doing this will help you determine if this career is a good fit for you.
And lastly, but most importantly…
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I remember getting so stressed during the process of my career switch because I felt like it was taking too long. There were countless times I wanted to throw in the towel because it was just too hard. My advice to you, don’t think that way. A career switch is a BIG change in your life and something you shouldn’t rush into. Think of it as a new relationship. New relationships take time and before you fully commit and make it official, you want to make sure you are ready, comfortable and know as much as possible about the person you are entering the relationship with. Career changes are the same way! Take your time before you take the big leap and don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, it takes time to get where you really want to be. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can read about my journey to my career change and why I even had to go back to waitressing once in my previous blog post.
I truly believe that if you use these tips during your career change, you will see success. It is never too late to switch careers, follow your goals and stay true to your passions. Good luck and I wish you the best on your career change. If you have any tips that you’d like to share that helped make your career switch smooth and successful, please drop them in the comments! I would love to hear what worked for you.
Like what you read? Be sure to subscribe to my email list and have all my new posts sent straight to your inbox!