Considering the ever-increasing pace of digital transformation and how it is transforming the employment and business landscape, especially in today’s uncertain economic environment, the prospect of a career transition is becoming a reality that many people need to consider.
That being said, a career transition can be extremely challenging to manage successfully.
The digital transformation is indeed making some roles obsolete, but is also opening up several new industries, business and roles for those currently in the workforce, looking for employment and even those pursuing entrepreneurship. This has seen many people moving into new career fields and even new industries completely, and has highlighted the importance of continuous training and upskilling.
It is important to approach and manage a career transition seriously and in the right way, to ensure the best possible outcome. Below is a list of the top tips to follow when considering a career transition.
1. Think of the bigger picture.
It is imperative to note that your career does not operate in isolation to the rest of your life and your professional decisions can have a huge impact on your overall life balance. Be sure to consider how your new career path will affect your relationships, finances and daily life, as well as how it aligns with your future goals and aspirations both personally and professionally.
2. Have a support system.
Talk to professionals about your plans for your career transition, and consider their opinions. Sometimes talking to someone with more experience and exposure to the market can help you identify issues or opportunities that you may not have considered. It may also be beneficial to seek a mentor in the new field you aspire to enter, and to reach out to people in your network to gain a better understanding of your plan and how best to navigate it successfully.
3. Grow the necessary skills.
The reality is that industries, and therefore businesses and processes, are changing almost daily to meet the requirements that digital transformation presents. It is important to conduct research on the necessary skills relevant to the career you are looking to move into, and to start making the necessary plans to acquire and improve these skills. With thousands of online learning platforms available, education is easily available, and even at no cost. Internships are also a great way to learn about a new field or industry while gaining practical experience.
4. Build a network.
The Internet makes it possible to engage with the right kind of people. Use the Internet to your advantage, make it known that you’re looking to switch careers and build a relationship through available communication channels. Joining a network of professionals makes it easy for headhunters and recruiters, as well as business associates to find you.
If you already have the necessary skills, begin putting these to use using freelance websites that allow you to register your skills and work with businesses looking to outsource these skills. Not only will this give you valuable experience, but will allow you to build a reputation for yourself through the reviews provided by those who contracted you.
5. Be open to challenges.
A successful career transition can take time. It can also be stressful and challenging. It is important not be to discouraged, to be open to change and to remain determined and focused on your goals.
6. Have unrealistic expectations.
A career transition is not always going to be an easy road. A reduced salary or a more junior position are likely side-effects of a career transition. Do your research and ensure that the opportunities within your new field align with your expectations. A career transition can be unsettling, especially when it is as a result of retrenchment or lack of employment opportunities. It is important to be clear on the kinds of opportunities that you can pursue, and have a plan on how best to pursue these.
7. Try your hand at every opportunity that comes by.
This point comes back to the importance of having a plan. Set out realistic goals for yourself, and outline the steps you will use to reach these – based on the research you have conducted and the advice of others in your chosen industry. While you may want to pursue any opportunity that comes your way, it is important to make sure that you pursue the right kinds of opportunities.
8. Follow the money.
The key is to put the focus on the opportunity and the work, not the paycheck. Most often, candidates look for job satisfaction and work-life balance over the salarys. While earning a salary aligned to your needs is important, it should not be the only factor that you take into consideration when looking at your options – especially during a career transition.
A career transition requires dedication, careful planning, determination and hard work. However, it could also mean the difference between a career path that is relevant in five years and one that is running on limited time.
Lyndy van den Barselaar is the Managing Director of Manpower South Africa.