You’ve decided you want a career shift, and with the help of a professional career coach or good friends, have figured out the next career challenge. Now you wonder where to start. If you’ve worked with a career coach, most probably you would have created an action plan with tasks and timelines and if you haven’t – I will give you one advice that works 100% of the time.
Talk to someone from the new industry or profession you have chosen.
How to find this person?
With one of my lovely coaching clients, we approached this task quite bravely and with a hint of aggression. This approach suited her temper well and led to impressive results: she managed not only to meet with high profile people from the professional area we identified as suitable for her talents and interest, but also to secure their subsequent guidance. She wrote her target professionals emails, without knowing them personally, and expressing her admiration of their career and achievements, as well as her desire to learn how they did it. Following up on those first messages, she called them to secure an appointment. Those who agreed to see her personally were so impressed by her energy and enthusiasm that they started to assist her and even introduced her to their contacts.
If you are not a fan of this approach, there are other creative ways to reach the people in your target career. For example, LinkedIn, an industry-specific conference, college or high school colleagues. A career consultant with a rich network can also come very handy.
After you have planned a meeting with your target career professional, you would definitely need to prepare. Such high profile people are quite busy by default and the ½ hour or the hour they spend with you comes at an opportunity cost. That’s why you better be prepared.
Follow some questions, which on top of showing you off as prepared, will reveal important information and will help you deciding whether this career is suitable for you.
1. Does your professional life have a negative effect on your time and energy for pursuing personal goals?
2. How many hours do you usually work on a daily/weekly basis? Is your working time strict of flexible? Do you have to change your personal plans to suit the professional agenda?
3. What is the profit/growth potential of this business? How long did it take you to reach this level?
4. What types of people do you usually interact with?
5. What are the skills/qualities I would need to be successful in this career?
6. What would it take to get to the top? Time, energy, resources?
7. Do you travel often? Short or long trips?
8. What are the downfalls of this career?
9. What are the prerequisites for success?
After you receive all this information, take some time to compare it to your beliefs and values. Can you picture yourself doing this job? Do you have what it takes? Are you ready to make the required sacrifices? Would you be able to organize your priorities so that you are able to work 60-hours weeks the first couple of years? How would this change affect your family situation?
If you have good answers to the above questions and to all the other important career shift considerations, you can start acting on the plan created with your career coach. Or you can search for a suitable career consultant who can be your change guide.