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Three Common Fears of Career Change and How to Overcome Them

To say 2020 has been a crazy year would be an understatement. From a global pandemic to civil unrest not to mention the most insane election of all times, the world has transformed for everyone.

As a result, we’ve found ourselves rethinking our priorities, not least of which is the value we place on the work we do every day. Those thoughts we had then and again about changing careers while juggling normal daily life (when there was such a thing) have now had time to organize themselves into clear, hard questions: what do I really want to do? Am I actually capable of doing it? And where would I even begin?


Let’s talk about the 3 most common blocks that hold people back from going after the career they want.


1. You Know You Want to Make A Change But You Don’t Know How To Start

Maybe you’ve been thinking about a change for a number of years, or you’ve started reconsidering your overall career in light of realizations you’ve had since the pandemic started. Perhaps you’ve been laid off or furloughed and you don’t know how to regain your confidence. Or maybe you took a step back from your career to focus on family or care for a loved one and now you’re looking to re-enter the workforce and you’re unsure of how to “tell your story”.


First and foremost, update your LinkedIn page. Include a professional picture of yourself along with your work history and start connecting with every person you’ve ever worked with. Even though many of the people you connect with may not be in your target industry, you never know who might be in their networks so the more the merrier.


Talk to people who work in fields that interest you, or who find fulfillment in their work. Ask lots of questions about what they do and what they like about it to help determine what might be a fit. Interview others as to how they got started, identify overlaps with your skills or experiences you think could be valuable, and work out practically if you could move into this career as an experienced hire. Also determine if you’ll receive the compensation/benefits you might need for your standard of living, and understand the overall landscape in terms of the main players in that field.

Start networking, whether it’s virtually or in person. Meetup.com has groups specifically for people looking to make a career transition, as does LinkedIn. You can also target groups focused on the industry in which you want to work and explore what kinds of roles the different members have to see what gets you excited.

2. Updating Your Resume Feels Completely Overwhelming


Resume writing is daunting – we’ve all been there. You’re attempting to summarize your entire professional history in a page or two and you want to get it right.


If you don’t know where to start, sit down and think about what you have done in your current or past jobs that you are most proud of. What have you done to make your department/team/company better? Start jotting these things down. Having read thousands of resumes, I find this exercise will lead you away from the temptation of simply listing out your daily tasks and responsibilities and shift the focus to your accomplishments. These accomplishments should be tangible and accompanied by numbers whenever possible. For example, if you are overseeing a team, how big is that team? If you brought in new business or increased sales, say by how much. If you have a sales quota and you exceeded it, by what percentage?


Even when transitioning into a whole new field, a hiring manager should be able to see from your work history and accomplishments that you have the relevant skills needed to succeed. Be ready to articulate how you learn quickly, get things done, and know how to lead and collaborate.


3. You’ve Been Out Of Work And Don’t Know How To Position That On Your Resume


Gaps between jobs need to be positioned in the right way.


Just because you haven’t been working doesn’t mean you haven’t been doing anything. Often, when I’m interviewing a candidate I ask them about what they have been up to since their last position ended and the common answer is, “Looking for a new job”. But after a bit of prodding, there is sometimes more to it than that.


Have you been taking any classes or obtaining any accreditations? A lot of people use the time between roles to keep their skills sharp. Whether that’s taking an online class that relates to your profession or something that better suits you for your next opportunity make sure to call that out. It shows you’ve taken initiative and are serious about your career journey.


Have you done any freelance work? This is one of the most common omissions I see from job seekers because they think if they aren’t “officially employed”, then it doesn’t belong on their resume. That isn’t the case. I recently spoke to a Marketing Manager who was furloughed early in the pandemic. When we dug into what she has been doing since she told me about a handful of websites for which she has been doing influencer marketing, yet that wasn’t on her resume. She didn’t think it belonged because she was doing it “on the side”, but it ended up becoming a talking point in her next interview and resonated with the hiring manager as evidence of improvisation and an entrepreneurial approach.

Even if your circumstances are unique and you’ve been too busy to do anything, I get it. As a mother and small business owner, I understand time is a PRECIOUS commodity that not everyone has the luxury of spending on additional training or online classes. It's all about positioning - I can help with that too.


Making a career change can feel scary. But the outcome will be wonderful, and the "getting there" has a real chance of being life-changing. Those first steps are the hardest, just as they should be, but together we will make a plan that’s realistic, ambitious, and based around you. We’ll face down what might now feel like insurmountable obstacles (trust me, they never are) and get you working from your strengths in a career that rocks.


For more support on embracing transition, reach out to me at jenny@jennywardcoaching.com

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