You’re not stuck in your current career just because it’s the one you went to school for and the one where you gained most of your work experience. You can switch to related fields, or even those dramatically different from your current occupation, by demonstrating to employers that your previous training and experience have you prepared you for this new role.
Pursue Other Aspects
Start by seeking opportunities at your current employer where you can explore other facets of the industry. If you work in human resources but are interested in a marketing career, for example, offer to write the company’s employee newsletter. If you work in a creative field, such as graphic design, but want to transition into management, offer to lead team projects or take responsibility for client accounts. You’ll gain hands-on training in the job you hope to transition to, as well as gaining proven experience you can showcase when applying for positions in the new field.
Return to School
In some cases you only need a short-term training program to qualify for a new career. For example, many universities, community colleges and technical schools offer certificate programs that only take six months to a year. In addition, some universities offer fast-track degree programs for students who already have at least an undergraduate degree. This is a popular option for in-demand fields such as nursing. At New York University, for example, students with a bachelor’s degree in any field can complete a bachelor of science in nursing in just 15 months, after they’ve completed a few prerequisites.
Leverage Transferable Skills
You might already possess many of the skills required to cross over into another career. When applying for jobs in a new field, emphasize these talents and downplay unrelated skills, work experience or other qualifications. Review job descriptions for the type of position you’re seeking and note what you have in common. For example, if you previously held administrative positions but want to move into sales, point out that you handled communication with some of the company’s most high-profile clients.
A good word from someone highly respected within the industry can help you earn credibility. A powerful endorsement can even compensate for a lack of relevant experience or other qualifications. Find people in the industry or occupation you’re interested in switching to and ask for an informational interview. Ask them what it takes to succeed in the profession and how you can best prepare to make the transition. Share your career plans with colleagues or other professional connections, especially those who know you have a talent for the career you hope to switch to. Ask them to introduce you to people within the industry or act as a reference.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images