Changing careers can be daunting, and even more so after you’ve established yourself in a career for a few years. Most of your contacts are in your initial industry, and switching careers usually involves more continuing education on your own time with personal sacrifices, not to mention ensuring it doesn’t interfere with your current career. Once you do have the education behind you, you need to make the move. I did just that.
I went to The Chang School at Ryerson for the Occupational Health & Safety Certificate while working full time in HR for two years. I did have the intention of eventually holding a Health & Safety position after graduating, but since HR is quite a large field, I was able to try different positions along the way. Here are three tips from my experience:
#1 Rebrand yourself
You gradually need to update your LinkedIn and social media sites to reflect your career change. If you’re unemployed, the rebrand can be easier since you’re able to fully unveil your new brand and share that you’re looking for a new position. If you’re employed, show how your new skills and knowledge could be transferable to a new position (within your current organization or elsewhere). Eventually, you will need to update your resume, including any new education, to target your desired positions. Attend industry events related to your career change. The more people who know you’re interested in a certain career, the better.
Most jobs these days are found through networking (and they aren’t advertised). This is even more common the further along you are in your career. If you want to tap into the always-booming job market, networking is important. As someone with work experience, you most likely already know a few people in your desired industry. Inform your direct network, as you never know who they may know. Liaise with recruiters and hiring managers via LinkedIn for any positions you’re seeking — whether it’s for the immediate future or that dream job that is still a few years away. You never know what will happen. Also consider attending networking events, whether they’re through Eventbrite, a company and/or your alma mater. It’s a good way to develop relationships and open the door to new opportunities.
#3 Demonstrate your transferable skills
Explain to potential employers the skills you possess that you could transfer to a new position. Every job on your resume is important for the skills you’ve developed. Mention any past projects that relate to new job opportunities during interviews. Although you may not have held a specific position, you could have helped other departments or been involved in committees. Don’t discount them since they are work experience, even if you lack the title. Any past experience that is related to your career is valuable to prospective employers, and you need to be able to communicate it to them.
It can be intimidating to switch careers and difficult at times. Just like changing jobs, changing careers can be a risk, but if you prepare and consider these steps, it can ease the transition. Although the risk may seem significant when leaving your potential comfort zone, the reward can lead to greater job satisfaction. Those Monday blues will finally disappear when you find a career you love.
Samantha Osaduke is a Health, Safety and Environment Coordinator at Ainsworth Inc. She has just under 3 years experience in Human Resources in various industries.