Changing careers can be overwhelming at the best of times, but particularly so after a career break and during the midst of a global pandemic. If you are considering a career change in the near future, then here are the steps that we recommend:
- Overcome your fears
Many of our clients describe feeling really ‘stuck’ when contemplating a return to work after a long absence and this is only exasperated if they are also looking to change their career direction. There are many fears associated with career change including; fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of making a big mistake, fear of loss of status, fear of a loss in income and the fear of what family, friends and colleagues will say. These fears are real fears, but they need to be overcome before you can take the steps required to make a career change. Speaking to a career coach, life coach, mentor or experienced career changer can help you identify and address these fears so you can start becoming ‘unstuck!
Before you go out to the job market you really need to be able to identify and articulate your key skills and strengths and how you can apply them to your ideal role. The job market is going to be tougher than usual when we finally recover from this pandemic, especially in Victoria. Candidates with a strong ‘personal brand’ will be the ones that stand out from the crowd.
Starting a new career path doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Usually we have transferable skills that we have gained in our previous jobs and from life itself (especially as a mother!) that we can transfer to a new career area. How about negotiation, influencing and time management skills for a start?
Brainstorm with a career coach or friend to get a list of your key skills and what comes naturally to you so that you feel comfortable talking about this out in the job market.
- Know your values
Another key is to get clear on what is most important to you at this particular time. Our values often change as we get older, and particularly after we have a family. What was most important in your 20’s may be vastly different from what is important in your 30’s or 40’s. By completing a values-assessment you can determine the values that are your non-negotiables when searching for your next role.
- Map out the key criteria for your ideal role
Prior to commencing your job search I believe that it is really beneficial to map out what you want from your next role including:
- What skills you want to use
- What values must be met
- Ideal location and travel time
- Culture of the organisation
- Salary range
- Preferred industries
- How much work travel or out-of-office commitment
If you map out your criteria before you start job searching, then you will know what you might be compromising on if you do get a job offer. Try doing this as a mind map or even writing yourself your ideal position description.
- Compelling application documents
In a post-Covid world, you will need very compelling documents to get you in front of potential employers. Recruiters during normal conditions spend an average of 6-10 seconds reviewing each resume and this is likely to be reduced even further with higher volumes of applicants.
Your resume needs to be written in a contemporary format and to highlight your key skills, strengths, experience and achievements. It should be tailored for each role and keyword optimised so that it isn’t screened out by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) – basically, a bot that screens out 70% of resumes based on keywords
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful professional online networks and is used by 90% of recruiters and employers to identify suitable talent. In my opinion, LinkedIn is a must-have for anyone serious about future proofing their career. Most importantly LinkedIn provides a powerful platform to identify people doing work that is of interest to you and to identify mutual connections.
- Master your interview skills
Interviews these days are usually behavioural interviews and they can be a very competitive process. Even the most extroverted candidates will not necessarily be able to ‘wing it’ on the day. To be competitive, you need to master your behavioural interview skills by understanding the key competencies of the role and being able to provide specific examples of how you have successfully demonstrated those competencies in the past.
Research suggests that over 80% of jobs are filled through relationships and referrals rather than being advertised. This is what is known as the ‘hidden job market’. This rate is even higher for those who are returning to work on a part-time basis, or after an extended career break, as the traditional job search methods (job board ads and recruiters) are not so helpful.
I recommend that you brainstorm your networks and tap into them long before you start preparing to return to work. List your contacts and use LinkedIn to reach out for a ‘Zoom coffee’! You will greatly increase your chances if you tell people that you are looking for work and what specifically you are interested in. Make it easy for them to connect you to opportunities!!
If you work through these steps, then you will be doing all the right things to navigate a successful career change aligned to your values, skills and interests.
If you need some assistance developing a keyword optimised profile or would like a coaching session to ensure that you are getting the most out of LinkedIn, then contact Leah Lambart at Relaunch Me to discuss your options.
Phone: 0413 558 758