Practical Tips for a Successful Career Change

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people change careers fairly frequently, approximately every five years.

You may be relieved to know millions of people switch vocations if you are considering changing professions. It may be intimidating to change careers, it may even be challenging at times. The key is to remove as much emotion from the process as possible and simply take it one practical step at a time.

For the most successful career change possible, carefully assess your finances in addition to your skills. You will need to perfect your resume, cover letters and job applications. You may consider availing yourself of the skills and expertise of a career coach. Above all, be proactive in your efforts. If you lack a skill or ability, then learn it through a class or training. Obtain experience by volunteering or seeking mentorship. Network if you lack sufficient relevant connections and contacts.

Assess Your Finances

The timing for your career change can be essential in ensuring it goes smoothly. Changing careers can cost you money, and it is easier to land the right position when you have time. There may be training or education costs and networking costs to take on in your career change and job hunt as well. The fact that it all may be money well spent is meaningless if the expenditure spurs current hardship and strife. Likely, you will at least have the following costs to some degree, among others:

  • Printing and mailing costs for your resume and cover letter
  • Clothing and travel costs for job interviews
  • Savings loss from meeting bills and necessary expenses during a gap in employment

Moreover, when you start a new career, there is a strong likelihood you will start your new job at a lower wage than you had been making at your former job. You may even start at an entry-level wage. Therefore, saving up for a career change before you make it could be a wise move. Calculate your existing financial obligations to determine what you will need to earn or have available to you in savings to cover those obligations. Avoid the temptation to tap into your retirement fund for transition money. Instead, visit your local employment-related community-based nonprofit agency to take advantage of a financial literacy program that can help you learn how to better make and manage your budget moving forward. The time it takes you to accrue savings forces you to take could also be time well spent planning a smooth transition and executing it with wisdom and patience.

Practical Resume, Cover Letter and Application Tips

You may have everything an employer needs, but that will not help you land a job if it is not communicated clearly through your resume, cover letter and application. These items are your first line of approach to an employer and your first chance to make a good impression. If you fail to make such an impression, then it could also be your last. Interviewers pore over dozens, sometimes hundreds, of applications, resumes and cover letters, looking for any reason whatsoever to reject a candidate to narrow down their selection. Your job as a candidate is to do everything in your power to prevent that from happening. Here are some practical tips for ensuring your application, cover letter and resume remain in the pile.

No errors – Check your responses on applications and the information in your resume and cover letter over and over again to be 100 percent sure it contains absolutely no typos or spelling errors. As a first impression, what an error shows to an employer is not about your ability to speak or write English so much as about your attention to detail and commitment to excellence.

Easily scannable – Make your resume items, cover letter and application responses easily scannable. Avoid long, rambling prose and opt instead for short, concise answers. Use bullet points and bold and underlined text judiciously. Avoid fancy, hard-to-read fonts as well, opting instead for common, familiar and easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman or Helvetica. Use sufficient margins and line spacing. Interviewers tend to spend less than 30 seconds looking over each candidate’s resume and cover letter. That does not mean it is insignificant or should not be as thorough and comprehensive as possible. Rather, it means all your paperworks’ significant thoroughness should be presented in a manner that is easy to absorb and digest on brief and cursory examination.

Complete – Leave nothing out of your resume or application. If there is a gap in your employment history, then explain it honestly and forthrightly. Include all your accomplishments. Do not be shy about your successes, fearing you may come across as too boastful. Rather, consider your accomplishments as mere examples of your skills and assets in action. If an application asks for three references, then provide all three and give accurate contact information. Make sure your cover letter includes all the necessary elements of a proper formal letter; header, salutation, opening, body and closing. Be sure you provide current, complete and accurate contact information on all three documents.

Consider a Career Coach

A career coach is an expert in all the practical tips you could need to affect a smooth and successful career change. Consider hiring a career coach to help you focus your efforts in the most efficient manner possible. A career coach will ask you about your current job, former work experience, interests and goals and any relevant restrictions or requirements. A career coach will also help you gain clarity over your assets, drives and, ultimately, the best direction to take with your career change to bring you the most future job satisfaction. You can find certified coaches through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARCC) and the International Coaches Federation (ICF).

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