Planning a Successful Career Change

According to research from SEEK.com, 38% of Australians are hoping to accept a new role within the next twelve months. This alone can be a big project, and planning to change careers in an entirely new industry can seem even more imposing. Deciding on how best to ensure you have the best chance of success can also be confusing. However, your desire to make a change can lead to great gains for your new employer and it’s important that you can portray these benefits clearly to them. Leverage your existing knowledge and experience and plan a successful career change by following the steps below:

Do your research. Aim to understand in detail what you will be doing in your new role on a daily and weekly basis to ensure it is exactly what you are after. Find gaps in the industry you’re hoping to move into and determine how your unique skills can help address those gaps. Learn the terminology of your new field so you can articulate your value in a meaningful way to potential employers. Try speaking to people in your target field to learn which of your skills are most transferable.

Visualise yourself in your new role, and think carefully about the steps, people, and specific conversations that will successfully get you there. Consider meeting with a trusted mentor, experienced recruitment consultant or career coach as you undertake a detailed self-assessment to understand which of your skills align with your new direction. Forbes has tips for finding and working with a career coach, including how to interview prospective coaches and prepare for your sessions.

Develop an “elevator pitch,” which will serve as your vision and mission statement for the first phase of your new career. The rest of your CV should flow from this, detailing your value proposition as a new employee from a different field. Try following this four-step process to explain your career change in an elevator pitch.

Market yourself forward to your next role. While most CV’s focus on past roles and responsibilities, as a career changer you want to CV to illustrate how your existing skills will bring value and relevance to your new field. Career expert Amanda Augustine created a sample career changer CV for Business Insider which can be used as a guide for building your new CV.

Create a “tool-kit” of your experiences. Depending on your audience, explain one of your transferable "tools” of the trade in the form of a story or example that outlines how that skill could meet their industry and company’s needs and wants.

Seek training if you lack required credentials. A willingness to learn new skills shows initiative and completing relevant courses and qualifications displays extreme commitment to your new career. Volunteering can be a great way to gain experience in a new field whilst potentially hearing about job openings.

Be concise. In the world of Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and other media where you’re expected to get message across in 50-200 characters, people are becoming accustomed to looking for highlights and snapshots. Make your CV succinct and trim it down so that your audience is more likely to read the entire document, become engaged with the content and want to meet you to learn more. The purpose of the CV is to secure you meetings with industry relevant people and potential new employers. It should be 1-3 pages at most.

Less is more. The more detail you provide your audience about your background, the higher the chance that you may be providing them with detail that isn’t relevant to them. This can also tempt them to pigeonhole you into your old role or field. You need to understand what your audience is looking for and tailor your pitch, CV and supporting documents to each new audience. You don’t want to appear to be withholding or cryptic; the aim is to steer the conversation towards what you are able to accomplish in your new field with your existing skill set rather than describe roles you have performed in the past.

Use facts, figures, and analogies to illustrate your experience rather than lengthy descriptions to make sure what you are saying is tangible and measurable.

Remember you’re in a good place. Successfully changing careers will only add to your skills and experience and often leads to bigger and better career opportunities in future. In most cases, you can apply skills from your current job to your new career much more effectively than is often perceived.