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5 tips for transitioning to a totally new career in 2015

Get going down a new path by taking these steps.

5 tips for transitioning to a totally new career in 2015

If one of your resolutions is to start a new career, you’ll need to take some steps so that the transition is a smooth one. It can be a challenge, but if you’re ready for a change, follow these tips for a new career in 2015.

Ask questions

It’s important to know why you want a change, so ask yourself some questions before you jump into something new, says Marian Thier, partner at Listening Impact. Ask yourself whether it’s a new career you want, or just a new job. “Sometimes people get bored with a specific job, but like the career, so changing to another function might be sufficient to rekindle interest.”

Also, are you running away from an organization or boss you don’t like, or running toward another opportunity or part of yourself? “Running away to what seems like greener pastures is almost always a mistake,” Thier says. “Career-changers must feel drawn to the new career and an unrealized part of themselves.”

Identify your strengths

Courtney Young-Law, vice president for education partnerships at Fundamentum, recommends surveying your experiences and writing out stories that show how your knowledge and skills will apply in the new role. “Writing these stories and practicing saying them will help connect the dots for people,” she says. “We worked with an Air Force pilot who had military stories that he thought didn't have any relevance to the civilian tech positions he wanted. We helped him reframe those stories in ways that showed the transferrable skills and qualities he possessed that would make him invaluable in his new career.”

Make a plan

It’s important to map out timelines, possible employers, skills needed and so on to make your transition a smooth one, says Diane Dye Hansen, chief inspiration officer at What Works Coaching. Identify what you might need to get the job and how you will obtain that training or education.

Hansen says she once advised a client who was a bank teller. He wanted to make the jump to financial advisor. “After reviewing his skill set for a match, and confirming no additional schooling was required, I advised him to find an advisor he admired and have lunch with him.”

They then mapped out a plan in which he agreed to study financial strategies and familiarize himself with documents and materials that advisors use. “After several months of relationship building, a position came up as an advisor. The individual my client had connected with wholeheartedly recommended him for the position.” He got the job.

Try the career

“One of the smartest things a career changer can do is to take a part-time position in the new industry,” says Donna Shannon, president of Personal Touch Career Services and author of “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy”. See if you can reduce your hours at your current job and pick up a volunteer opportunity or even a part-time position in your new career.

“The risk is less and the job seeker can make sure this is the right move without committing their family's future if it doesn't work out,” Shannon says. “I know this works because it is exactly how I transitioned from a full-time position in HR/accounting to running my own business. The transition began slowly, with me taking clients on the side while working full time. As my success grew, I reduced my full-time regular job to part-time hours until I had enough steam — and courage — to let go of the steady paycheck.”

Be realistic

It took you a long time to build your career; remember that you’re starting over and be patient. “Don't fool yourself when it comes to changing careers — there will almost always be a huge learning curve,” says Will Mitchell of Startup Bros. “Make sure you have some funds to cover the loss of income that will come from chasing your new career. I've seen many people quit their jobs out of frustration, only the end up lower on the same ladder.”

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