Finding a new job in the field you’ve worked in for years can be a challenge. Switching to a new career track can be plenty daunting, but there’s hope so long as you properly prepare to impress potential employers.
“It is entirely possible to pivot and move into a job or career that you love,” Katie Fogarty, a communications and career coach and founder of The Reboot Group, tells Inverse. “I see people do it all the time. If you’re lit up about moving into a new arena, you should go for it.”
If you’re thinking of entering a new field, here’s what you should do, according to Fogarty and Sean Koppelman, a career coach and president at The Talent Magnet.
1. Do a career audit
The first step in any job search is to conduct an audit on yourself.
“Conduct a personal SWOT analysis — take inventory of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats,” Koppelman said. “Understand clearly your core competencies and what you really enjoy doing. Find what skills you have — communication, analysis, etc. — and identify the ones that are transferable to the new role.”
A way to do this is list out your accomplishments, then brainstorm a second column to figure out a prospective employers’ needs, Fogarty said. Then compare these lists and see how your existing skill set can satisfy those needs.
It may end up being that to get the job you really want, you have to go back to school or obtain a certification, Fogarty said. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for a career 180.
2. Find meaningful work
Some people may know exactly where they want to end up, but if you only have a foggy idea of the career you want, the audit process should make it clearer.
“Through the inventory process, look at what this move will do to provide opportunities that you’re not getting in your current role,” Koppelman said. “Find the responsibilities and tasks that provide more personal and professional enjoyment. Find those things that you really enjoy that you don’t have the opportunity to do. That’s how to find a good fit.”
3. Check for side doors
One of Fogarty’s clients was a news anchor with 20 years of experience who found herself wanting to move into corporate communications. Along with auditing her career and finding her transferable skills, she had also been conducting communication workshops with businesses to develop connections.
“If you’re looking to open a door, you can look for a small way in,” Fogarty said.
One way to do that is to do work for free to build a portfolio. Fogarty had pivoted from communications to career coaching by initially offering her services gratis.
Koppelman suggested another way to get closer toward your ideal job: “Look for a job that gets you closer to the job you want.”
4. Become an expert
When you’re entering a new field, much of your current resume becomes moot. This is why it’s important to learn everything you can about your industry of choice.
“Read, watch, and listen to content specific to that industry. Become a subject matter expert and explain how what you’ve done in your career can help them,” Koppelman said. “Being a storyteller is important. If you have passion and enthusiasm, it can overcome a lack of experience during an in-person interview.”
5. Make the pitch
Your resume, cover letter, and online profiles should tell the story of why you’re the best person for the job.
“People hire to solve challenges, such as winning more customers or growing their business,” Fogarty said. “Anyone trying to convince someone to hire them should understand what their challenges are and through language show they’re the right person to solve them. With a LinkedIn profile, don’t talk about your past history, show how your work will make a difference to that company. ‘Why you’ gets you hired.”
Also, remember that networking remains important.
“Especially during these times, your network is your net worth,” Koppelman said. “Platforms such as LinkedIn don’t get used the proper way until people are in a desperate need. This is the time to leverage your network.”