As a millennial, your working life is not going to follow a straight line. Many of us will need to change career paths at least once during our 20s and 30s — maybe even more than once. But navigating this sort of transition can be challenging. New jobs don’t always come with straightforward career paths, and it’s easy to feel like you should have some sort of plan or strategy in place before you make the leap. Changing your career path isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult either. If you’re feeling stuck in one role, read on for some advice on how to change career paths.
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Know When It’s Time To Change Career Paths
There are a few signs that you might be ready to change your career. If you’re feeling unsatisfied or uninspired by your work, that’s a good first sign. If you’re having difficulty finding the time and energy to do your job well, that’s another. If you’re struggling with career burnout, if you’re feeling like you’ve hit a wall with your current role — all of these can be signs that it’s time to change paths. Another sign that you might be ready to change paths is when you have a chance to learn new skills at work and you pass. If you’re not picking up new skills as you go, that’s a sign that it might be time to start looking at new job options.
Network, Network, Network
Networking is probably the most important part of changing careers. You might not know where you want to go next, but you probably know a few people who do. So start asking your colleagues, friends and family members if they know of any job openings in their company or industry. You can also start attending networking events in your city. Search for job networking events in your area — you’ll meet other people who are in the job market too, and you might even make a few good connections that could turn into job leads. You can also join LinkedIn and use their networking tools to reach out to people in your industry. LinkedIn is a great place to make connections and stay in touch with people, even after you’ve found a new job. You never know when your contacts might be able to help you out or give you a new lead.
If you’re not sure what new skills you should be picking up, consider taking some adult learning courses. Taking classes is a great way to learn new skills and meet other people who are in the same boat as you. Many colleges offer courses specifically designed for people who want to change careers. These classes might be worthwhile even if you plan on sticking with your current industry. For example, if you want to move from digital marketing to product management, you could take classes on product management to help you make the transition. If you’re not sure what classes to take, try to figure out the skills you need for your next job. What do you think will be needed in your industry in the next five to 10 years? What skills do you need to have in order to be successful in your next role? With those questions in mind, you can find classes that help you learn those skills, or even take online classes that will allow you to continue working while you learn.
Apply For New Jobs
Of course, you also should start applying for new jobs even as you’re finishing up your current job hunt. If you already know what industry you want to go into, you can search for job openings in your desired industry, or if you’re fresh to the industry you can even look at apprenticeships. But if you’re not sure what industry you want to go into, use your network to find job openings at different companies. You don’t have to apply for the “dream job” right away — just apply for open jobs at companies you’d be interested in working for. You can apply for jobs in any industry, even if you don’t think you want to go into that industry. You might just want to apply for different jobs to try to get a feel for what different industries are like. Note: If you’re applying for jobs at different companies, make sure you’re applying for jobs that are in-line with your skills, education and experience. You don’t want to end up applying for jobs that are too far above or below your level. That could make you look like you’re not serious about the job.
Be Patient And Stay Flexible
Changing careers can take time, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to find the perfect job. You can also use this time to figure out what type of work you want to do in the future. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do next in order to change paths. You could try out a few different paths and see what you like best. You could also use this time to focus on improving your skills and developing yourself in general. You might want to take online courses or read a few books and see if you can improve your skills.
Changing careers can be a scary process, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow these tips, you can change paths without too much stress. And if you do decide to change paths, make sure you don’t close yourself off to coming back to your old career path. That’s not to say that you should make a change because you’re bored rather than because you actually want to do it — but if you do decide that you made the wrong choice, you can always go back.