3 Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Career Paths

Whether it’s change borne out of necessity or desire, finding your way in a new career is an intimidating task.

This article is featured in the November/December issue of Search & Employ

Many scholars agree that the world is going through its fourth Industrial Revolution, aptly called “Industry 4.0,” in which business is rapidly changing to adapt to increased digitization. What does “Industry 4.0” mean for you?

Changing careers may be a reality you will face as a result of a shifting environment, and it’s never too early to be prepared.

As a veteran, you’ve already faced at least one major career

change – transitioning from the military to a civilian career – so you already know you have what it takes. When making the transition from one career to another, avoid these three common mistakes:

1  | RUSHING THE DECISION

Changing careers is not a decision you should rush into.

Are you sure you are dissatisfied with your current industry or career path? Perhaps your desire for change has to do with your company culture or management. Maybe you just had a bad few months, or you need to feel more challenged than your current role allows.

If your career change is necessary for reasons outside of your control, take your time to determine the direction you want to take.

Changing career paths will require a great deal of commitment, so it’s important to be confident in your decision. Take the time to assess your feelings and situation so you can move forward fully informed.

2  | FAILING TO PREPARE

Even after you’ve analyzed your situation and feel confident in your decision, don’t take the leap until you have somewhere stable to land.

Fully committing to your career change doesn’t mean suspending reality; you still have to earn a living in the interim.

When possible, take courses to earn the necessary credentials and qualifications for your new role while employed. Resign from your current role only when you have a new job, or plan, in place.

Many programs, like MyComputerCareer, offer job placement opportunities for students in addition to training and certification courses. Research your options before quitting your current role.

3  | USING THE WRONG RESUME

You’ve probably always used a chronological resume format, but when it comes to a career change, this style could highlight your inexperience in your desired field.

Consider using a functional format, which prioritizes your credentials, qualifications, and skills over job titles.

Don’t panic if you start creating your functional resume and come up short on applicable skills and qualifications for your new career. You can still gain meaningful experience before you jump into pursuing your new path full-time.

Here are some ways to build your skill-base, while you work towards a career transition:

  • Give back. Volunteering is a perfect way to gain some much-needed experience when trying to break into a new industry. Find a non-profit organization that you believe in and offer your services.

For example, if you want to break into event planning, find an organization that needs help coordinating a fundraiser. If you want to work in management, find a non-profit in need of leadership for their volunteer force.

  • Take a test drive. Try out your new field in the form of an apprenticeship or internship. Look for companies that have a formal intern or apprentice program and apply. If that’s not an option, look for ideal companies in your desired field and contact them about interning. You will gain applicable skills and experience, and you’ll also begin to build your network with professionals in your chosen field.
  • Join a group. Joining an industry-specific professional organization provides ample opportunity to develop professional connections. Adding associations of this nature will develop your resume and network.
  • Train in your spare time. Look for seminars, certificate training, and college courses to make yourself more marketable when changing careers. When searching for the best training options, think long term. Where will these newly acquired skills take you? Can you build upon what you learn? Additional training is a perfect way to increase your value to prospective employers.

Changing careers doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems. Take your time and decide what you want the rest of your career to look like. Just like your transition out of the military, your career change will be much smoother with a strategic plan to follow.

Jenny Nichols lives and works in Holly Springs, NC. She has an advanced degree in higher education and student development. Jenny holds national certifications for resume writing, editing, career coaching, and facilitating career development. She is happy to discuss any feedback or answer any questions about this content and can be reached at jennyn@mycomputercareer.edu.

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