If you’re considering a voluntary career change, you may not immediately know what specific direction you want to take. Before you take action, it’s helpful to reflect on where you’ve been in your career and whether the professional path you’re on is the right one.
Look at what you have been doing day after day and determine whether those things play to your strengths or align with your goals. Consider the direction in which you want to move and about all of the possible outcomes, directions and solutions that could result from your newly chosen path. As entire industries continue to transform and reinvent the way they operate, this can be a time of great opportunity for advancing your career.
Here’s a roadmap that can help you if you are motivated to explore new directions:
Identify the drivers prompting you to look for new position. Before you embark on this path, ask yourself these questions: What objective are you hoping to achieve? Are you frustrated with your boss? your pay? your role? Is there specific experience you’d like to gain? Is there a different industry you feel drawn toward? Is there some issue or difficulty that is pushing you away from your present job – and have you done everything you can to fix the problem?
Answering these questions is a critical first step because without knowing the answers, you run the risk of bringing your dissatisfactions with you to a new company and a new position. Looking at yourself objectively is key to understanding what you want and need in your next position and where you can be successful.
Create a personal scorecard to identify what you want out of life.
- Professionally: What type of company values are you seeking out? What type of role would you ultimately like to achieve? What kinds of work are you most passionate about?
- Personally: What are your objectives outside of your career? Do you want to train for a marathon? Rescue a dog? Plan a specific vacation?
- Financially: Is it your goal to save for a second home? To put your kids through college? To retire by a certain age?
Verbalizing these desires will help you prioritize the elements you’re looking for in a new role and determine which ones are non-negotiable and which are more flexible.
Build your personal brand. Engage with LinkedIn and professional associations to gain the awareness of key recruiters, business leaders and hiring managers in your domain. Make sure that your profile truly represents your brand and positions you for your next move. Write an article on a topic you’re passionate about. Connect with friends of friends, colleagues of former coworkers, and members of college alumni networks. You may find that after several months of remote working and enforced isolation, they are very willing to connect with you and pass on referrals.
Although jobs have been lost in some industries, hiring is going on and new positions are opening up in other areas. Be aware that you will need to be more flexible about where you can fit in and what your new role will look like. Take this as an opportunity to add new skills and experience to your background and to grow your career.