I think that we can all agree that the pandemic changed a lot of things for just about everyone. If before your world got turned upside down you were thinking about changing jobs or even changing careers, you probably put it on hold because of the way that things were playing out. However, now as we have moved beyond the pandemic, perhaps it is once again time to start to think about what you want out of your career and if a change might be what you need.
Time For A Change
If the Covid pandemic threw your job, company or career for a loop, this may be the moment to think about not just a next move, but a larger career change. We all understand that such a move is impossible for many managers who don’t have the contacts or resources to make it happen. But for those managers lucky enough to take advantage of it, technology can help address some of the obstacles to making a midcareer shift. This is true especially right now, when so much of the professional world has moved entirely online out of necessity.
If you take the time to put a range of professional conversations and communities at your fingertips, the internet makes it much easier to figure out which fields are the best fit for your interests and talents. There are things that you can do that are low-risk, low-cost options for trying out new professional contexts. These can include actions such as taking online courses or doing remote pro bono work. By doing things like this you can assess a new career direction before you take a leap.
Planning For A Career Change
You always want to start out by assessing your options. Before you start to make a career move, you need to get a feel for your options by eavesdropping on other fields. You goal needs to be to get familiar with the cultures and opportunities they offer, as well as the kinds of people and tasks that are involved. An easy place to start this process is by joining professional groups on LinkedIn, so you can watch (or join in) the online conversation. Many groups will welcome anyone who asks to come on board. If you have friends or colleagues in a given field, pay close attention to them online and see what they share and respond to.
Be sure to follow people in a field that you are interested in on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as Facebook. Maybe the occasional posts you see from your manager friends make their fast-paced work look appealing, but reading the full stream of their working lives will give you a better sense of whether it is a pace you would want to sustain yourself. In addition, find the top Twitter hashtags, tweetups or Twitter chats of people in the field that you are interested in and make a point of following or participating. You may find a group of kindred spirits who share not only your passion for new technology, but also your affection for pizza and baseball – or you may discover that they are snarky and gossipy in a way you hate.
The next thing that you are going to want to do is to assess yourself. This means that you need to figure out if your potential new field or career is actually the right fit for your particular skills and talents. There are many online tech tools and strategies that can help you get a better perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. One is a 360-degree assessment that asks for online input from colleagues, bosses, direct reports and friends. This can be best accomplished through a third-party consultant who can review and anonymize the results and help you make sense of them. You can get a different sort of 360 by looking at analytics that examine your specific social-media presence. This kind of close examination will show you the kinds of your blog posts, photos, Facebook posts and tweets that draw the biggest response, which can provide an important clue about where you add the greatest value.
You will have to map out your route. Unless you’re moving into a field or career path that is very closely related to your existing or most recent role, you will probably need to plan your career transition in terms of a series of “hops” that will take you from here to there. You’ll want to first move into a career that may be just a little different from your current job – but that is closer to your dream in terms of the industry, role or specific responsibilities. You then need to use that role to build the skills, relationships and résumé that bring you one more step closer to your ideal, and then make your next hop.
What All Of This Means For You
As a manager, you may have found that your work life has been completely changed by the arrival of the pandemic. The changes that have occurred may have made you start to rethink your job and perhaps even the career that you’ve chosen. If you find yourself in this situation, then perhaps it’s time for you to start to think about what you would like your next career to look like.
Any time that we think about making a career change, it can be tricky to do. This is especially the case if we don’t have a strong network of contacts in the career field that we are interested in entering. However, the new set of internet based tools that we now have available makes getting information about a new career much easier. Your goal should be to assess your new career choice before you leap into it. Prior to switching to any new field, you’ll want to learn more about it. Connecting to LinkedIn groups that are in that field can shed some light on what jobs in the field are like. Follow people in the field on social media to learn more about what their jobs are like. If you decide to switch jobs, take the time to carefully map out your career path.
The good news for all of us is that despite having some down time because of the pandemic, we can all still think about making job changes. This kind of change can be a big deal. We need to make sure that before we make any kind of career jump, we take the time to research the field that we want to go into and the people who currently work there. If it turns out that you like what you find out, then by all means make the jump!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: How long do you think that you should study a career field that you are thinking about switching to?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
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