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How To Lay The Foundation For A Career Transition

In today’s constantly changing society, it is rare for individuals to stay with the same career or position for an extended period of time. As a mentor once told me, it is natural to want different things as time goes on. As such, transitioning between careers and industries is a natural part of the progression. Here is how I would recommend laying the foundation for a successful transition.

How To Lay The Foundation For A Career Transition

1. Keep Your Current Job

Making the decision to transition from one position (or industry) to another is daunting, no matter how many times you may have done it. It’s even more daunting if you do it without some form of steady income from your previous job. Having experienced the struggle of quitting a job without a backup plan, I will never again recommend quitting your current job cold turkey, no matter how you feel about your role.

Setting aside a portion of your earnings each month will ensure that you have some money to help you cover costs and set yourself up for your new career, particularly if you plan to relocate to a different city. Having a form of monetary income also eases the transition between careers, especially since you never know how long the job search may be. 

However, everyone is different. If you feel burned out, or if you feel that you simply cannot stand being in the role any longer, do what is right for you. Having some form of monetary income while you search for a job and lay the foundation for a transition can make your life much easier.

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2. Speak With Your Network

The majority of jobs are filled via networking. When I visited Tokyo during a vacation to see family, a friend suggested that I apply for a role at my current company since they were looking for instructors.

Although I didn’t earn my current position based on her recommendation alone, I would never have known about the job opening had she not informed me that the company was looking.

You never know who your friends or mentors may know, or even what opportunities they may know of. While it is true that many recruiters do use online resources as a tool to search for candidates, it might not be in your best interests to inform the Internet of your job search, just in case your employers (both current and potential) are watching your social media feeds. You never know.

If you decide that you must inform your network, decide who you would like to inform and send them messages via LinkedIn or some other means. Publicly broadcasting the fact that you are searching for work-particularly while you already have one-could leave you on thin ice.

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3. Ask For (And Use the Information In) Informational Interviews 

Yes, you can do research online, but the people who are actually in the industry can tell you things that online publications can’t. They can highlight the pros and cons of a position, the qualities necessary to succeed in the role, and the sorts of skill sets you need to develop.

Having this information gives you invaluable information about a particular industry. They can also introduce you to others within their network (if you ask nicely) who might provide additional information that might be useful to you.

People are usually very willing to speak about their personal experience. Finding people who have made career transitions similar to the one you are hoping to make is helpful because they might be able to point you in the direction of good resources to use, industry heavyweights you should follow, and industry trends.

You never know what kind of information you might uncover about a particular job or industry. Having a solid foundation of knowledge about the industry you seek to transition to is important, and tapping into your existing network can give you that knowledge.

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4. Determine Your Transferable Skills

Even if you change industries, the fact is that you can work on honing transferable skills regardless of your industry. Transferable skills are in the words of Chrissy Scivicque, skills that you “learned and demonstrated in your current role that also apply to the new role.”

You may think that you are starting from square one, but focusing on your transferable skills will soften the transition from one industry to the next. Determine what skills you already have or are currently demonstrating in your present role and the skills you need to develop to become a viable candidate. Transferable skills include the following:

  • Communication skills (both written and verbal)
  • Project management
  • Leadership
  • Time management

Although the industry may be different, employers still look for various skills that you can utilize across industries. Focusing on those skills and focusing on how those transferable skills can be applied to the industry you wish to join will help you lay the foundation for a career transition. 

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5. Determine Your Budget

This might sound like a given, but it’s important to determine your budget. Knowing what the average salary for the position you’re seeking in the particular city you are looking to move to will help you determine how much to ask for.

Additionally, knowing the average costs of everyday necessities and rent will help you determine a realistic budget. For instance, you may not want to live with a roommate, but if the average cost of rent in your city of choice is more than you can afford, you might have to consider doing so. Determining the average cost of living in a particular place relative to your salary will allow you to set a realistic budget.

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Transitions are intimidating, regardless of how they come about. However, they are an inevitable part of life. Transitioning from one job to another isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. Laying a strong foundation for the impending change will help ensure your success.

About the Author

Alisa Tanaka

Alisa Tanaka graduated with a Communications degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2012. She hopes to develop a career that allows her to make a measurable impact on the world while doing something that she loves. Her interests include psychology, linguistics, and mental health. She can also be found reading, watching documentaries, and writing her blog.