7 Expert-Approved Tips on Making a Smart Career Switch
We’ve all been there — dreading your morning alarm, slogging through your workday and living for the weekend. For some, this dissatisfaction is just a phase or a necessary means to an end. But oftentimes, the work issues go way deeper than just being super mad at your boss. If you’ve tried everything you could to break out of your work rut and you’re still unhappy, or you’re feeling uninspired and find yourself brushing up on your freelancing skills in the evenings, it may be time to quit your job. We spoke with Crystal Marsh, career coach, to get advice on how to make the major life change as painless (and profitable!) as possible.
1. Address your career switch in your cover letter. “Go ahead and face the elephant in the room,” Crystal advises. “If you’ve been a lawyer for the past five years and are suddenly applying to a copywriting position, they’ll want to know what brought on the change,” she says, so explain what precipitated the switch and why you’re so passionate about this new career.
2. Put down the MBA apps! For jobs in many industries, having a corresponding degree or MBA just isn’t necessary. Crystal suggests getting experience first and only going back to school once you’re sure about your switch and a second degree is necessary for your advancement.
3. Don’t be afraid to start over. Financially speaking, it can be scary to think about starting over again, but Crystal assures that if you’re entering a field you’re truly passionate about, a pay cut is probably not going to be a deal breaker. She says that your ability to “catch up” financially to your peers once you’ve started over varies by industry. For example, consulting firms follow strict and linear career paths that will probably start you at the bottom if you don’t have prior experience in the field. Other industries, like advertising or non-profits, reward transferable soft skills, hard work and good ideas. Consider how important salary and advancement is to you before making your switch.
4. Network with the #girlbosses in your new industry. And the boy bosses too! Crystal says more than anything, you need to “make networking a significant part of your switch.” Take the marketing manager at that firm you love out for coffee; ask her thoughtful questions about the company, tell her why you’re so amped to make a switch and that you’re open to any opportunities she may have for you. Chances are, she’s got a lot of projects on her plate and suddenly you’re the self-starting, success-driven freelancer she needs to help finish a deadline.
5. Start strong on your résumé. No matter how “small” it may seem, be sure to list any relevant experience first on your resume, rather than the most recent or the longest held. And be sure to list it as such. This could mean internships, part-time jobs, seminars, classes or freelancing gigs. While this experience may not seem as impressive as the seven years you spent clerking at a major law firm, it’s what will be most eye-catching to potential employers, promise.
6. Get your learning on. Speaking of continuing education, Crystal suggests taking a night class, weekend seminar or online continuing education course for a few months before applying for jobs in your new field. “Employers want to see that you’re serious about your switch and this isn’t an idea you randomly had on a Tuesday night,” Crystal says. Even the smallest amount of effort can show tremendous commitment.
7. But don’t forget— you already rock! Soft skills like managing, communication, writing, leadership and analytical skills are totally transferable to almost any job and are key assets in a potential new employee in any industry. Use your cover letter and resume to explain how you project managed a team of 10 or ghost wrote all your boss’ official correspondence — don’t underestimate yourself!
Have you recently made a major career switch? Tweet us @BritandCo with any helpful tips you learned along the way!
(Photos via Getty)