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How to Make a Career Change:
Step 2: List your skills and decide which ones you want to lean into
Once you’ve decided that a new career path will bring the results you’re looking for, it’s time to determine which career to change to.
How do you do that?
The temptation might be to start looking at job boards or job descriptions. According to career coach Monica Fochtman, that’s a mistake.
“A lot of people are doing it backwards. So they say, ‘I’m frustrated, I’m underpaid, I’m overworked. I’m ready to search.’ And then they go to LinkedIn or Indeed or Zip Recruiter or any one of the job board sites, and they start to search by title. ‘I’m a project manager, so I’m going to keep doing project management.’ Well, you’re just going to keep going into the same well, and you’re going to get the same results. Whereas a better strategy is to figure out your strengths first and then lead with those.”
The fact is, there might be careers or industries that you don’t know about yet that sound totally different from what you do, but are actually a good fit based on your skills.
“And a lot of times I’ll start a conversation with my clients by saying, ‘What are you good at? What do you like doing? What do people commonly come to you for?’ The sweet spot would be the overlap of ‘this is what I like’, ‘this is what I’m good at’. Because that’s a common mistake that people make is they lead with all of the things that they are good at, even if those are the things that they don’t like doing.”
So, don’t start with job titles or job descriptions. Start with you. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
When you list your strengths or skills, think in broad terms. Don’t think about specific tasks that you are good at. Zoom out to the overall skill or strength you’ve developed.
For example, if you’re currently a school educator, you might be inclined to connect your strengths with your current duties. Your list of strengths might include things like teaching, preparing lesson plans, classroom management, holding effective parent teacher meetings, and tracking student progress.
What kind of jobs do you think you’ll be offered if those are the strengths listed on your resume?
Another school educator job, right?
If you want to change your career path and shift away from being a school educator, you’ll need to think of your strengths separately from your duties.
An educator’s strengths include public speaking, project management, leadership, giving feedback, and data analysis and reporting. Think about it: those are the same skills listed above, but separated from the responsibilities of a teacher.
So list all of your hard and soft skills first.
Next, decide which ones you enjoy. Which ones do you want to use the most in your next career?
This is key, according to Monica. “Don’t hang your hat on all of the things that you used to do just because you used to do them. A lot of times their collateral will be full of all of the things that they don’t want to do now. So, they are constantly talking about how they responded to a crisis or this situation happened when I was on duty, and this is how I addressed it. And so then I say to them, ‘Okay, great, but you have said in your next role that you don’t want to do that anymore. You’re still good at it, but it’s not relevant to where you want to go next.”
Out of 10 skills, you might use 8 of them most of the time in your current career. But are those the 8 you want to focus on in your next career? There might be 5 out of the 10 that you want to focus on, or 3 out of the 10.
Determine which hard and soft skills you want to use the most and focus on those while going through the process of changing careers.
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