The pandemic has prompted a career rethink for many of us, with 60% of UK workers planning a career change, a 7% increase from 2020.
Whether it’s fixed income, asset management, equity research, trading, investment banking, private equity or venture capital – we all know how hard job search can be these days, and changing your career path itself is a whole new ball game on its own.
Many of us at 300Hours are successful career changers ourselves, so here are 6 actionable steps on how to change careers properly, even when all odds seems to be against you.
How to change careers: Our 6 step plan
All we know is that there are no shortcuts in changing careers, regardless your age.
A consistent and persistent effort to close the gap will get you the career change you want. Try these concrete steps and let us know how you are getting on!
In this article, we will look at the key steps you need to go through to successfully change your career path.
Research your target job
Know your target role and sector of interest. Do this for both online and offline. Or take our finance career quiz to see which path fits your personality best.
For your online research, do check out job search sites such as LinkedIN. Search and filter jobs by sector and type. Check and compare a few to understand the target profile. Note any gaps in your experience or skills (if any).
You can also check out career or industry blogs for guidance. For finance, Vault provide excellent, updated career guides in finance, giving details about career progression, interview skills and examples of what the role entails from people in the industry.
For offline research, one of the best ways is to speak to recruiters in your sector of choice. Make sure you prepared an updated resume prior to speaking to them – sending them a CV is usually a pre-requisite.
Even better, have an in-person meeting or video call to discuss your situation, and ask tons of questions (it’s free). Target 10-15 of them to start.
Recruiters may get a bad press on not being effective – nor looking after your best interest. But you’re talking to them mainly to get insights to the sector and companies hiring. You never know the right job may come along through them either, so we don’t leave any stones unturned here.
Alternatively, try cold contacting people in the current role or industry to have “exploratory conversations”. Have a brief introduction about your background and interest in the particular sector, and politely ask whether they would be available for 20 min to have coffee with you.
Make the most use of the opportunity for those who said yes, don’t forget to thank them their time in the end. Many times these conversations end up referring you to other helpful contacts in their network, and potentially a job.
Decide if you want to change your career path
So now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to do a little self-evaluation here.
With your new information gathered, here are some questions to consider:
– Does the job role or sector still interests you?
– How does your resume compare to the average target profile they are looking for?
– Have you identified the crucial skills/experience gap you really need to make the leap? By need, I mean the absolute necessary ones (e.g. MBA is not really a requirement for most jobs), else this exercise is completely useless.
– Do you want – and more importantly – are you committed to make this leap?
Only you can make this decision.
If you’re unsure, discuss it with a mentor, or air your concerns in our Forum. If it’s a yes, proceed to the next step.
Reduce the gap by upgrading your skillset, network, volunteer or job shadow
Now that you’re fired up to chase that dream job and follow through with your career plan, it’s time for some action!
This phase is all about doing, and making things happen. And the hardest part is getting started. By the way, planning is not doing, only doing is doing.
You need to be proactive, you need to want it and chase for your goal. No one is gonna help you if you don’t help yourself. All you need is to make baby steps towards narrowing the gap between the “ideal” target profile and your resume.
How do you do that?
Here are some examples:
1) Sign up for relevant courses to upgrade yourself. Acquire the core skill or qualification needed that you’d identified earlier.
2) Volunteer your time (e.g. on the weekends) for a project, work for free or minimum fees (e.g. to cover expenses) to gain that crucial experience and get a leg in the door to greater things. Take it as an investment to learn and build up your resume for your target role. People rarely reject free labor!
3) Shadow people at their work. Perhaps rarer these days, and not applicable if you’re in a full time job. But for those who can do it, ask for the opportunity.
Oh, start interviewing too whenever your profile is about 70% there. These things take time, and you learn very quickly through interview feedbacks on what’s crucial, even if it doesn’t work out.
Accept that some rejection is inevitable (finding out why is more important), and just keep going.
Craft your resume and cover letter for career change
When switching careers, it is crucial to recraft your career narrative and personal branding so that you can position yourself as an attractive candidate for the job despite not having much experience in the role or sector.
The goal here is to be able to succinctly and clearly explain to others what you have done, and what you want to do.
This makes it easier for potential recruiters, employers or the people in your network to connect the dots and see how you can be a good fit.
To do this, here are some solid tips to write a good resume, or alternatively, you can use a professional resume writing service like Topresume to ensure a professional finish.
Track your progress, persist through C-R-A-P
Criticism, Rejections, A**holes & Pressure, that is.
There’s no denying that changing careers is difficult. Your friends may not even understand why you’re putting yourself through this. Status quo seems so easy now.
Be prepared that things will not go your way, sometimes. I was once rejected for a role in a different sector (applying similar finance/analytical skills) just because of a stark pay difference, despite me explaining my willingness to take a pay cut to apply my skills in a sector I love! Nothing you can do here.
Remind yourself that you’d decided to do this for a good reason. You’d assessed your options before and this is what you wanted. A lot of good work, research and networking groundwork has been done. It’s all about believing in yourself and your abilities to execute and follow through.
Others will have lots to say, and the only way you can control that is have selective ignorance.
Evaluate your feedback, (and if appropriate) incorporate it in your job search
Take notes on the valuable feedback you’ve been given through this interviewing and industry networking experience.
Evaluate the validity of each and make conscious effort to improve on it next time.
Incorporating these useful feedback should help you continuously ‘close the gap’ with your target career as you progress through your action plan. Don’t give up and good luck!
I hope you find these steps useful and we wish you the very best of luck in your career change plan. I’d also love to hear your career change experiences, and feel free to share your tips on how to switch careers below!
Meanwhile, here are some related articles which may be of interest:
- Finance Career Change: Plan Your Finance Career Switch With Our Free Tool
- How To Write A Good Resume: 11 Actionable Tips
- Is Topresume worth it? I Paid For One and Here’s My Verdict
- How to Properly Display CFA on Resume, LinkedIN and Business Cards
- How to Network: 7 Easy Networking Tips To Boost Your Career
- How to Prepare for An Interview: 3 Steps to Secure Your Job Offer