How to Avoid a Complete Reset When You Change Careers
15 Jul 2020
At some point in their lives, many people decide to change careers. Some might have started working the first job they could get, then followed in whatever direction it took them. They needed the money, but once it was no longer a driving factor, they felt free to follow their passion instead. Others may have felt satisfied with their jobs for a while, but eventually sought a new challenge.
And there are those for whom an assortment of negatives may pile up over the years. Too much work, high levels of stress, inadequate compensation, a lack of alignment between company and personal values; all of these can gradually sour your outlook towards an entire career path.
But when you’ve worked for years, making steady progress towards a specific goal, experiencing a reset can be disheartening. The prospect of having to work your way up again from the very bottom on a new career journey presents a considerable challenge. Is there anything you can do to avoid starting from scratch?
Identify transferable skills
Most people play video games in their spare time as a diversion. They are after the fun of the overall experience. Some games, however, allow players to engage in competitive play. Just like traditional sports, eSports require serious commitment at the very top. Many hours of high-level practice are necessary to get better. A new League of Legends player who aspires to turn pro can accelerate their learning by simply buying one of several LoL accounts for sale. This lets them start playing at a high level from the outset.
Of course, real life doesn’t quite work out like video games. You won’t find many employers who are willing to let an inexperienced candidate step into any role above the entry level. But the video game comparison offers a great lesson: you can leverage transferable skills.
Look past the list of requirements for your intended career. Identify any skills you might have overlooked that could prove useful. You may find that you’ve picked up many things from previous work experience which transfer well. In effect, you can start higher up the learning curve, because you have a sizeable platform of existing skills. This allows you to hit the ground running and perform advanced tasks.
Find an intermediate step
Transferable skills give you more leverage, but what if your career move is genuinely out of the left field? There could still be some non-negotiable requirements. If you’re missing those, there’s no way you can make the switch and immediately expect to start above entry-level.
Consider a programmer who’s tired of working in front of a screen every day and wants to labor with their hands, becoming a farmer. Or the reverse scenario – a farmhand who’s obsessed with mobile games and would like to make a living writing apps. Those two careers are so far apart that anyone in their respective positions would find it extremely difficult just doing the basics of their new jobs, let alone starting out at a higher level.
Radical career changes may require at least one intermediate step if you don’t want to start over from the very bottom. Some form of training may be inevitable. Programmers, or anyone who’s accustomed to a sedentary desk job, will probably have to work on their fitness and sharpen their business acumen before starting a farm. On the reverse path, someone with zero programming knowledge can learn how to develop apps through online tutorials, participating in coding boot camps, and joining developer communities and forums.
Work with people
When you try to change careers, focusing only on your qualifications is like doing only the ‘SW’ part of a SWOT analysis. It’s essential to know your strengths and weaknesses, but they are intrinsic qualities. For a better overall approach to this undertaking, you also have to consider your external factors: the so-called threats and opportunities.
Building your network and leveraging those connections can have just as much impact as your skills and experience when you’re attempting to start over at a high level. Approach insiders in your new industry and learn from them. These people may eventually be ‘threats’ in the competitive sense, but not in a hostile one. Talk with them and learn from these valuable sources of knowledge on what it takes to succeed. Be open about what you’re doing. It’s a major challenge, and they can point you in the right direction.
Knowing people and being authentic can open doors to higher points of entry. You could be a quick study with many capabilities, but it’s those opportunities that allow you to avoid a complete reset as you steer your career in a new direction.