There’s a good chance that you’re not going to stay in one career for the rest of your life. But once you identify what direction you want to go, the steps you take will make the difference between success and failure. And guess what? Most people take the wrong ones.
Whether you want to become a copywriter, a rocket scientist, or a librarian, the way to succeed is universally true. And it’s not especially complicated, either. The keys to successful career change are these:
1. Get training
2. Get experience
3. Get someone to pay you to do it.
Before I get into details, let me first say that the number one thing that leads to failure when trying to change careers is that people skip step one or skip step one and step two.
When they’re trying to get into a new career, most people will spruce up their resumes and send them out—thereby trying to jump right into step three. But if you don’t know how to do what you’re applying for and/or if you’ve never done it before, no one will hire you.
That’s the bad news. But the good news is that if you go back and start at step one, you’ll have a very high likelihood of success.
So let’s talk about Step 1 first: Get training. Why? Well, there is no job out there that doesn’t require some level of learning in order to do it. Even if you’ve been doing something similar, if you haven’t been doing that exact job, you don’t know how to do it.
You also cannot expect that someone will be willing to teach you on the job. That just doesn’t happen anymore. If they get a dozen resumes for a job (which is a vast underestimate for most positions) and everyone else knows how to do the job but you don’t…they’re not going to call you for an interview.
The good news is that there is training available for just about any job you could want—and, very often, you can access that training online. And no, a potential employer won’t penalize you for learning online; there are some phenomenally high-quality trainings available out there.
On to Step 2: Get experience. It’s one thing to know how to do something, and another to actually dig in and do it. The actual garnering of experience may vary depending on your new career path, but most quality trainings should make getting experience a part of that training. (Ours does.)
Experience allows you to expand what you learned in your training and put those lessons into action in a variety of ways. For your part, too, it also helps you discover what aspects of a new career you like, and which aren’t quite your cup of tea. This can help you decide which types of roles you want to pursue.
And then, of course, experience just makes you more useful to a potential employer. Experience is proof that you really know how to do what you’re saying you know how to do. This means they’ll have to spend less time getting you up to speed, and it also means you may have some new ideas or processes to bring to the table. Experience is part of what makes you hireable.
Step 3, of course, is getting to this hiring process. Or, at least, it means you getting some paying clients that bridge the gap until you land a full-time job (if that’s what you want). The good news is that Step 3, what seems like the hardest of the steps, actually becomes the easiest once you get Steps 1 and 2 down. Training and experience are what make you hireable.
Now, even knowing all of this, most people will still try to skip right to Step 3. It seems easiest, right? But skipping to Step 3 has nothing to do with ease, and everything to do with wasting time—both yours and a hiring manager’s.
The people who will persist in trying to skip right to Step 3 will hit walls again and again and, eventually, dejectedly, decide that changing careers is impossible. Very few people are actually willing to put in the effort to get what they want. Most people wanted things handed to them on a silver platter—and when that silver platter never comes, they blame everything else but themselves.
But the other ones, the ones who get it and understand why you can’t skip to 3, who understand that Steps 1 and 2 aren’t easy but that they’re crucial, will be the ones to succeed. And the extra special secret is that they’re also likely to be middle of it the process and realize that Step 1 and Step 2 aren’t so very hard at all—even fun. And everyone else will miss it.
Your turn! Have you seen anyone make these career change mistakes—or seen them do it right? Let us know in the comments below!