Are you tired of your current career? Whatever the reason behind your dissatisfaction, you’re not alone. Numbers on career changes can be difficult to pin down, because different people define a career change in different ways. Employee tenure, though, is easy to measure, and the median length of time that American employees have been with their current employer is 4.6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s clear that we no longer live in an age where people remain with their first company until retirement.
Changing careers can be scary. It can mean competing against people with far more experience than you have, and trying for positions that may not pay as much as you’re used to. Perhaps the most intimidating part of the process is finding those new jobs.
Here are a few tips for finding that new dream career:
LinkedIn can be one of the single greatest resources for anyone looking to make connections in a new industry or land a new job.
LinkedIn is built to help recruiters find candidates, to help candidates find opportunities, and to help professionals in almost every industry find each other. This makes it a powerful tool for anyone interested in changing careers.
- Join groups
LinkedIn groups are extremely useful for anyone wanting to connect with professionals in their field of choice and gain a better understanding of the challenges and rewards of that industry. Groups are also a great way to network, learn how to prepare for interviews, and more.
- Use the job search feature
LinkedIn also has a built-in job search feature where users can apply to jobs with a single click. LinkedIn’s jobs section is a great place to find job postings, and highlights positions that match your qualifications. Obviously, though, these suggested positions may be less relevant to career changers. This is where the filters can come in handy—they allow you to filter out industries you aren’t interested in.
Once you have found a job of interest, you can apply directly from LinkedIn’s site using your own profile. This enables you to skip past much of the typical data entry common to submitting job applications online.
- Premium services
LinkedIn has a number of premium services to make it easier for users to achieve their goals. For example, Job Seeker is a premium service that enables direct messaging to recruiters; makes you a featured applicant so you are more easily discovered; and gives you insight into who has viewed your profile. If you are actively seeking employment in a new industry, a premium account with LinkedIn is one way to help you stand out.
Establish a list of transferable skills
This is a key step for all job seekers considering changing careers. A lot of work-related skills can be applied to multiple career paths.
A teacher’s experience managing a classroom of students and tailoring how they relay information to people comes in handy for someone seeking a career in management. A web developer can learn a lot about system administration and networking on the job that would be an asset if they later sought to work in an IT department. A background in graphic design would provide the perfect foundation for a branding-focused marketing role.
Once you have created your list of transferable skills, refine it for use on both your resume and your LinkedIn profile.
Build your personal brand
This sounds like a lot of work, but it is really pretty straightforward. If you want to up your chances at finding a job in a field you don’t have work experience in, you can put in some work during your off hours.
Set up a blog, or publish posts on Facebook or LinkedIn that relate to the industry you’re moving into. Share knowledge you’ve gained from your research into that career, and establish yourself as someone who knows a thing or two about it. Better yet, because you’re changing careers, you might be able to bring a fresh perspective to topics. Sometimes it pays to be an outsider.
Connect with leaders in the industry
Often, who you know is just as important as what you know. If you want to get started in a new industry, consider reaching out to established figures. Learn as much as you can from the material they’ve published, network at local industry events, and even—once you’ve established a rapport—ask for advice to help you get started on your new path.
Want to know where to find people in your area? Meetups are a great place to start. Meetup.com is one site commonly used to organize meetups for professionals, free seminars, etc.
You might be surprised at how easy it is to meet the movers and shakers in a given industry by attending a few meetups. These meetings often create networking opportunities for attendees, especially during the times before and after the guest speaker, when everyone is crowded around the snack table. Don’t forget your networking resume!
Gain experience by doing it on your own
If you want to get into a career in radio or television, figure out how to put together a production using what you have on hand at home and get to work. One idea would be to start a podcast.
If your dream is to work as a graphic artist, there is nothing stopping you from sitting down at your computer and coming up with designs. You could start an on-demand t-shirt company using one of the many free services that print shirts to order. Once you come up with some witty designs, post them online. Share them on your website and/or social media pages, and don’t be afraid to include them in your portfolio.
Often, it isn’t what you’ve done for a paycheck that makes up a hiring manager’s mind. It’s what you do when no one is paying you. This establishes passion, willingness to learn, and gives you something to put in your portfolio related to your desired field.
In short: Just do it!