How to Change Your Career (And the Course of Your Life) in 6 Months
After winning the Mr. Universe title, Arnold Schwarzenegger first made millions in masonry and real-estate before turning to acting, and eventually politics.
Jessica Alba’s net worth increased more than tenfold after she started The Honest Company and shifted her focus on her business instead of entertainment.
Before becoming a bestselling author, John Grisham was a criminal lawyer and served in the House of Representatives.
Why changing careers can be the best thing to ever happen to you
There are countless examples of notable people who changed their careers multiple times in their lives. This is often fueled by one simple desire — to do what you love.
From an early age, we’re conditioned to think that we should to strive towards a single career path, a convenient label that can encompass all of our interests, expertise, and goals.
It’s no wonder many people feel stuck in jobs they don’t like after spending years pigeon-holing themselves into one profession.
This is even more prevalent amongst people who have had to invest significant personal time and money in their education, like attending law school or medical school, only to find that the day-to-day job is completely different than they imagined.
Growing up, every child is asked the same question.
“What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut? A gymnast? A teacher? A musician?”
Why not all four?
How to take the leap and make a career change
We all have the ability to change our careers, and set our lives on a completely new track. The process must start with understanding the skills that you need for the career you desire.
Success in any job comes down to your ability to effectively solve problems for the people that hire you. If you think you already have the skills necessary to transition to a different career, but are finding it difficult to land interviews or job offers, you’re likely not communicating your value correctly.
Simply put, the employer isn’t convinced that you can solve their problems.
Start by repackaging your story.
What have you done in your previous roles that is especially relevant to the job that you want? Think about how you’ve been able to overcome interesting challenges in the past that might be applicable to your desired role.
Let’s say you work in tech and you’re interested in transitioning from sales to product management.
Have you ever interacted with the engineers in your company? Maybe you worked directly with a developer to help put together a proposal for a new client, or perhaps you took close inventory of your customer conversations to communicate feature requests for your product. Some of these tasks are directly related to what a product manager might tackle in their day-to-day responsibilities.
Rework your story to highlight other areas of your past that might not be directly related to the titles you’ve held.
Develop your skills
If you’re like most people looking to change their career, you still have to develop additional skills to look attractive to a potential employer. Here’s three things you can do start acquiring those skills incredibly quickly.
This may sound obvious, but if you’re truly interested in entering a new field, you need to become an expert in the subject. It’s imperative to speak intelligently when you’re talking to someone who works in the industry or role you’re trying to break into, so start consuming as much content as you can.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to learn about a new field, from video interviews, to podcasts, ebooks, free articles, and even entire online courses.
Of course while you might get to a point where you sound like you know what you’re talking about, nothing is more effective than hands on experience. So, to really acquire a new skill you must:
Create something yourself
This is by far the fastest way to learn something new, potentially accelerating your education by years.
Most importantly, when you make something yourself you’re no longer seen as just an employee, but as a creator. You become perceived as someone who knows how to take initiative and build something out of nothing.
Let’s say you’ve been working in PR for five years, but realized that you actually want to work in marketing.
Marketers need to be good at identifying an audience, driving initial interest, and creating engagement.
Leveraging your background in PR, you can easily start a new blog or online publication around a topic that interests you. Over the next few months, focus on building your little brand. This means driving traffic, subscribers, and content shares.
When you create something yourself, something incredible happens. Employers will not care if you only spent a few months building your brand — they’ll only be interested in how you achieved your results, and if you can do the same for them.
This is why spending just one year building something yourself is often seen as equivalent to several years of experience working for somebody else.
Another way to quickly gain new experience is by taking on freelance gigs. The goal isn’t to make a lot of money on the side (though it could happen), but you can compete on price (based on your lack of experience) by charging less than your competition.
Make an account on UpWork or Fiverr and start bidding on projects that require the skills that you need to acquire. Each new gig is a new line item you can put on your resume, and new experience you can reference in your future interviews.
The fact is, our lives are not defined by one job, or even one success but rather a collection of experiences that help us become more well-rounded individuals while having an impact on other people’s lives.
If you truly want to do something else with your life, no-one can stop you from just doing it.