Tackling a Career Change

As a recruiter, I talk to people in many different walks of life. One thing I’ve come across more and more recently are people making changing careers, either because their old one is no longer in demand or because they’ve found a passion that they want to explore. The hardest part is often taking the first step. So what does that look like? It’s different for every career, but what isn’t different: learning. Just as you learned for your first career, you will learn for your second. You need to understand what the experts know and what someone going into the career should have. If you are looking to be a Project Manager, look into the certifications for that career (a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, for example); developers, IT and Cybersecurity Professionals often jump into accelerated bootcamps and certification programs. Create mini-projects in your own time so you can talk about them and learn from them. You can never learn too much, especially when changing careers.

Say you’ve done this already. You have your industry certification, your project portfolio in hand, and you are ready to make the change. Well, great! The job market is a difficult stream to navigate even for those not changing careers, but the key is to maintain positivity and to try your best not to get discouraged. Take each rejection as a learning experience and adapt to each audience you speak with as you become more aware of what they are looking for. No one expects you to be perfect, and those that do don’t deserve your time. My recommendation for landing a job in your chosen career is to focus on industries that are relatable to your previous career. You’re a certified Project Manager now, but you came from the restaurant industry; you have a unique skillset to leverage and a wealth of knowledge on how the restaurant business works. Rather than just shooting your resume off to any Project Manager job, narrow your field to PM roles that are restaurant and hospitality focused; you’ll have an advantage over other applicants with the added bonus that your previous career’s knowledge and experience isn’t going to waste.

The idea of a career change can be daunting. We spend years building and building our careers to get where we are in compensation, experience, titles, and there comes a point where we realize, I hate this; I want to do something else. That’s okay. Completely normal, in fact. You see, most of us choose our first career path as a wide-eyed, ignorant high-school or college graduate. We think we know what we’re going to do with our life; we have it mapped in our minds. But think back to the “five-year plan” you put together for yourself at the beginning of your career, does it look anything like your reality? Probably not. Humans change and evolve over time. We are not the same as we were ten years ago. Our interests are often different, and so is the job market. If 2020 taught us nothing else, its that we have to be flexible to be resilient. We have to change and adapt to the times or we are left behind. So while changing your career path after you’ve put years of work into it is terrifying, sometimes it’s exactly what you need to thrive.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have questions or want to continue the conversation in the comments below. I also take recommendations! What do you want to know about the job market?

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