Career changes can happen at any time for a number of different reasons. Sometimes, professionals reach a point when they decide they are no longer happy with their current career path and actively want to seek a change. Other times, the shift is more sudden, perhaps due to an unexpected layoff or management change.
Either way, transitioning into a different industry can be intimidating, especially if you have little to no experience in your new field. If you find yourself in this boat, follow the advice of this panel of Forbes Coaches Council members. Below, they offer 15 things you can do to increase your chances of success with a sudden career change.
1. Focus On Relationships
Whether you’re trying to land a new job or excel in a new one, strong relationships will always increase your chances of success. If you end up in a new career, your team members and boss will be your top source of support and training, so make sure they enjoy working with you. – Scott Swedberg, The Job Sauce
2. Ask For Help And Be Specific
It’s common for many people to experience sudden change. It’s life. When making a request, be specific about what help and support you need. Present your ask with a question: “Given your experience, I am interested in your perspective on how I can be successful with my recent career change.” Think about what you can provide the helper. They may defer, so be ready to offer. – David Yudis, Potential Selves
3. Visualize Your Future Success
While hard work can help you with initial success, it is not sustainable. What keeps you moving and striving for your best regardless of challenges is the daily feeling of excitement and happiness. Visualize who you will become in five to 10 years and the aspiring version of yourself that will come out of this change. Then connect them and evaluate how you can best capitalize on the new opportunity. – Amy Nguyen, Happiness Infinity LLC
4. Work To Become A Person Of Influence
Without influence, success is impossible. In fact, John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” We must work to become influential because no matter what our goals are in life, we can achieve them more effectively and efficiently and the contributions we make can be longer-lasting if we learn to increase our influence. – Ed Krow, Ed Krow, LLC
5. Identify The Traits That Have Brought You Past Success
Identify all of the times you have had success in your career and identify what characteristics and strengths helped you achieve these successes. Then be curious about how you could use them to support you in this new career path. If you notice a gap in skills, don’t be afraid of it. Create a plan to close the gap and take the first step, knowing the next step will follow. – Kris McCrea Scrutchfield, McCrea Coaching
6. Think Of Examples Of Times You’ve Added Value
Identify examples of where you added value to organizations in terms of outcomes. No longer is a laundry list of tasks or responsibilities enough on your resume or profile. Speak in terms of the results you generated, whether quantitative or qualitative, and how those contributed to the organization’s success so potential employers see your track record clearly. Show your value! – Lisa Downs, New Aspect Coaching
7. Find A Balance Between Adapting And Influencing
Every trend within an organization was “sparked” by someone at some point. Following a change into a new atmosphere, one must practice a balance between adapting and influencing. When influencing, one must choose an innovative, yet proven and relevant concept to champion. This will not only contribute to business and “spark” a trend, but position one to stand out. – Corey Castillo, Truth & Spears
8. Look For The Intersection Of Strengths, Interests And Expertise
Your ideal career path is found at the intersection of your strengths, interests and expertise. By leveraging your strengths, you increase your chances of success. By following your interests, you stay engaged. By honoring your expertise, you are able to pivot much faster. Your strengths are found in tasks that give you energy! Keep these in mind to land a successful career change. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
9. Be Empathetic And Helpful
Through online channels, including all social media, it is especially crucial that people can clearly see your intentions are good. Ask how you can help and offer free content that helps your target customers with their daily problems or wishes. Act as an authentic and honest partner who is interested in people, not just in selling products. – Michael Thiemann, Strategy-Lab™
10. Take Inventory Of Your Abilities
Value your gifts, skills, talents and abilities to make the shift. Too often, professionals focus on areas of deficiency instead of leaning into those transferable skills that will support their successful transition into their new career. Take inventory of your abilities, map them to your new position and see how they’ll position you for success. – Carol Parker Walsh, Carol Parker Walsh Consulting, LLC
Stress and anxiety are common with unexpected changes. When your career is disrupted, take time to self-reflect and assess your strengths, motivators, demotivators, communication intelligence and resilience. Self-awareness in times of change will afford a natural approach to aligning yourself with your next opportunity, and provide insight and support for the interview process ahead. – Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting
12. Test The Waters
Test the waters first. Seek out opportunities to try your hand at as many core components of the role as possible. Identify individuals who have been successful in this role and collect data on which qualities, skills and relationships have proven most valuable to their success. This will help you to understand what is required daily, but also what the high-level competencies look like. – Jenna Valovic, Jenna Leah Coaching
13. Grieve What’s Been Lost, Then Reflect On It
“Sudden” can be a euphemism for “unplanned.” If this is the case, allow some time to grieve what has been lost. That’s valid. In doing so, itemize what’s lost so that when you have fresh energy, you can bravely reflect on the list and ask questions. What is missing? What isn’t as important as you thought? What are you really, really good at? What do you love? This focus can help inspire as you find your new success. – Kristin Johnson, Logos Consulting Group
14. Don’t Go It Alone
Assuming a new role or figuring out your new future can be a lonely exercise. Tap into your network. Ask for help. Get an onboarding coach. Include people around you who are part of the circle that cheers for you. This will make your integration more fun and less stressful. – Edyta Pacuk, MarchFifteen Consulting Inc.
15. Take Responsibility For Your Own Career Happiness
Own your career and do not abdicate responsibility to the next organization for your success and/or happiness. You are the chairperson of your life and your family are your shareholders. Never surrender those responsibilities to people who don’t care as much about you and your success as you do. – Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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