How to break into a new career

December 6th 2014 / Anna Hunter

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Want to move into PR/personal shopping/circus performing? Whatever your dream, don’t chase it without heeding this golden career advice first

We all have those days when throwing in the towel and running away to live our rockstar fantasies seems appealing, but if you’re seriously considering a career shift, it’s not something to act on on impulse. Deep down we all know that serious, grown up consideration is required, even (especially) if you do harbour ‘frontwoman in a band’ ambitions. Finances are almost always a factor, not to mention education, extra training and general lifestyle changes. It’s also important to be really honest with yourself; are you running away from your current job or genuinely enthusiastic about taking on a new challenge? If you’re determined, decided and up for it, career coach Sue Powell has some inspiring words of wisdom to help you make your move.

Trust yourself

“Feeling like a bit of an imposter is a fairly usual human reaction when we start something new, especially if we are a ‘new kid on the block’ among others we perceive to be more experienced or competant. It’s just our inner critic’s way of keeping us static and safe by not taking a risk. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled or put off by this feeling. If you’ve thought things through, done your research and know that this change is for you, trust yourself”

“See ‘imposter syndrome’ as a signal that you’re really stretching yourself towards a more fulfilling life, and expend your energy more usefully”

Network

“Establish links in your chosen field. Ask your friends who they know in the industry and make the most of contacts that work for companies that you’ve set your sights on. Most people want to help; don’t be afraid of asking”

“If you can afford to volunteer, work part time, assist or do ad-hoc stints this can be extremely valuable too. You’ll gain a much better sense of what you’re committing to and build up your contacts at the same time”

Big up your strengths

“Enlist the help of good colleagues (current or former) and ask them to tell you your top five professional strengths and skills. Establish what qualities define you; it’s rare that these qualities rely on specific technical skills. The list is likely to uncover who you are; think about how these aptitudes will be helpful in your desired career and highlight them at the top of your CV, in correspondence and in interviews. This exercise might also give you some potential referees for future jobs!”

Stand out against the competition

“Know the marketplace you’re thinking of entering. Attend conferences and networking events, sign up for online communities and get to know people in the field. Familiarise yourself with how the sector works and what you can bring to the table. For instance, maybe you’ve had experience from a different perspective or can demonstrate a passion that’s made you shine consistently in your current company or in hobbies that you’ve been drawn to. Ask yourself why you want to change role or profession; what have you learned that’s made you want to pursue another path? There’s only one you, what’s your unique story? How will you communicate or deliver what you do differently to others?”

Have no fear

Chances are you’ll wish you’d made the switch years ago. Just adhere to the scout motto: be prepared. Make sure you know the ins and outs of the day job you’re aiming for and work towards attaining the role in question day by day. Think tortoise vs hare, setting aside time for homework along the way. You’ll get there. Just maybe not by Monday morning.

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