10 Steps to Successfully Change Your Career at Any Age
Finding work that you love can be a challenging task, especially if you're not sure what you want to do next, but these 10 steps will make it easier.
Changing jobs or careers can be a challenging task, especially if you haven’t been in the job market recently.
It’s especially challenging if you don’t know what you want to do next or how to go about getting it, a situation that causes many people to remain stuck for years in jobs they don’t like.
Given that the average person in the U.S. works 90,000 hours over the course of their career, it’s understandable that many people want to find work that provides them with more than a paycheck.
Although the thought of changing careers can be a daunting task, it’s possible to find work that you enjoy at any age, provided you understand what you really want.
Here are 10 steps to help you successfully change your job at any age.
1) Get clear on what you want in all areas of your life, not just your career.
Understanding what you want in your career starts first with understanding what you want in your life. Set aside some quiet time to reflect on what your ideal life looks like in all areas, including your relationships, health, recreation, financial, career, personal development and community.
2) Discover your purpose and determine how you want to live it out
Many people struggle with identifying their purpose and think of it in terms of what they do – for example, an engineer, a teacher or a banker.
A different way of looking at your purpose is to define it in terms of who you are.
For example, a person who thinks their purpose is to be a school teacher may realize that their true purpose is “to educate and inspire people to be their best”.
This person can now look for ways to live their purpose in activities as diverse as elementary school teacher, pastor, manager, baseball coach or inspirational speaker, as well as in everyday interactions with family members, friends and in volunteer activities.
Change the way you think about your purpose and you’ll open the doors to new opportunities
3) Discover what you’re uniquely good at – your inner genius.
We’ve probably all been exposed to employee evaluations that focus on our weaknesses and how to improve them, a typical experience in the corporate world.
Yet studies have shown that we get the most satisfaction out of work when we’re employing our strengths.
We all have things that we’re talented at, things that come so easily to us that we don’t always recognize them as talents, but they can sometimes be challenging to identify on our own.
A career coach can help you uncover those talents, but here is one simple method to stimulate your thinking. Send an email or text message to your friends, family and co-workers and ask them to identify three talents that you have, things that come easily to you, but not to others. You’ll get some valuable information that will guide you towards your next job.
4) Understand your values.
Values are defined as the principles we live our life by, the core beliefs that drive our actions. Examples of values include achievement, kindness, independence, respect and creativity.
If you’re unhappy with your life or career, it’s likely that something is out of alignment with your values. Understanding what those values are, and which ones are the most important to you are critical components to finding a career you love.
Start by identifying your top 10 values and what they mean to you. Then consider which careers allow you to express those values.
If you’re unsure what your values are or how to incorporate them into your life, consider consulting with a career coach.
5) Identify your skills
There are two types of skills that employers look for, hard skills (those technical skills required to do the job), and soft skills (interpersonal skills that are transferrable from one role to another).
Make a list of all the skills you’ve obtained through your jobs, volunteer work, education or any other activity you’ve been involved in. Include both hard and soft skills. If you’re having difficulty identifying your skills, here are two methods that may help.
1) Look up your previous roles on O-Net Code Connector. You’ll see a list of skills, also called “Detailed Work Activities”, from which you can derive a list of your skills.
2) Think of projects where you’ve been successful and write a few paragraphs about what you did. Then circle the skills that you used, or for even greater clarity, read the paragraphs back to a friend and ask them to identify your skills.
6) Update your resume
Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing a resume, rendering it critical that yours catches their attention long enough to warrant a phone call or interview. Read the job description carefully and make sure your resume includes the skills and keywords relevant to the job. Include specific, quantifiable examples of accomplishments that illustrate both your hard and soft skills. And don’t forget to double-check for spelling or grammatical errors.
7) Perfect Your Linked In Profile
About 95% of recruiters look for qualified candidates on Linked IN, and nothing makes them pass you by faster than a profile that is out of date or incomplete. Ensure that your profile is current and contains descriptions of the work that you’ve done, your achievements and success stories.
- Use short copy blocks or bullet points to make your profile easy to read.
- Include a professional looking photo that is representative of the job you are seeking.
- Set your profile to public, so you can be found in a Google search.
- Let recruiters know that you’re open to opportunities by changing the privacy settings under “Career Interests”.
8) Prepare Your Networking Strategy
Studies show that upwards of 80% of jobs are never advertised, which means that the fastest way to a job is through connecting with other people. Prepare a list of everyone you know, including previous co-workers, family and friends, and don’t limit yourself to those you think may have a job opening. Consider everyone whose path you cross, including sports teams you belong to, your accountant, dentist, children’s teachers, veterinarian, religious organization and more. The broader your network, the more likely someone will hear about a job that is perfect for you.
Once you’ve identified your contacts, develop a system for systematically contacting and following up with them. You want to remain top-of-mind throughout your job search so that they think of you when they hear of an opportunity.
9) Prepare for interviews
Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview. Now is the time to let your skills, accomplishments and personality shine. You need to be prepared to both ask and answer questions.
Learn as much as you can about the organization by reviewing their website, researching the industry, and investigating their culture on websites such as Glass Door. Be prepared to ask questions about the company and your role in it. You’ll not only demonstrate your interest in the job (which will put you a step ahead of other candidates), but you’ll also learn valuable information to determine if this is the job for you.
Prepare stories about yourself that illustrate your skills and accomplishments. Be ready to answer questions about your background as well as behavioral questions that illustrate how you act in challenging situations. Enlist the help of a friend to practice answering common interview questions or consider consulting with a career coach.
10) Notify your network once you’ve obtained your new job.
Your hard work has paid off and you’ve found an exciting new job. Don’t forget to notify your network and thank them for their help. Continue to remain active with your network so that you’ll always remain top-of-mind when that next opportunity come along.
The process of identifying a new career and finding that next job can be challenging and time- consuming, but also life-changing. Follow the steps above and you’ll be on your way to finding work that you love.
Claudia Rossi is a certified professional coach who specializes in helping people uncover their strengths and identify careers they love. Learn more about her quest to fulfill her passion and how she helps others do the same at: My90000HourCareer.com.