As many of you know, I changed careers earlier this year. I went from working in television to becoming a finance writer. This career change obviously didn’t happen overnight, and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t think I would actually change jobs until the birth of my daughter. That being said, a few things happened over the years which set me up for the shift. When the time came, I embraced it, and you can too if you’re prepared.
Recognize your outs
In my case, the Canadian media industry has changed. About 5 years back, my station cancelled a major show which resulted in massive layoffs. I didn’t lose my job, but after the dust cleared, I ended up having even fewer responsibilities. To most people, this would be a good problem, but I felt like my skills weren’t being used to their potential.
Although I was confident my seniority would save me if more layoffs happened, no one is ever 100% safe. More importantly, I was bored and I needed a hobby which is why I started to blog. I worked in a newsroom so I knew good writing from bad writing. In addition, I had received journalism training from a Canadian broadcast legend (Thanks, Gord!).
When I started writing, there were no plans to change careers. But after a year of doing it, I realized that this could become something bigger. What really made me believe in myself was when I was approached by a company to write freelance for them. I couldn’t believe someone was willing to pay me for my writing. I recognized my out and I started to work towards it.
Build your skills
I know I’m lucky with how things turned out and not everyone will be able to do the same. The point is, if you hate your job and want to leave, you need to build your skills to find that out.
I continued to improve my writing by reading books and taking e-courses on creative writing. Since I had formal media training, I also put some effort into getting media interviews. These skills and appearances were all meant to set me up for the future. I knew there was no quick fix so I laid the groundwork without knowing if there was an end in sight.
For others, it may mean going back to school part-time or learning new skills on your own. If you’re working towards a certain career, talk to people who already work in the industry and find out what’s required to get a job. That being said, be respectful of their time and try to offer them something in return if possible. Many people out there are eager to help, but you don’t want to come across as a freeloader or someone who is ungrateful.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to be seeking out a career change to build your skills. This is obvious, but adding more skills only makes you more desirable as an employee, so upgrade them if you’re just looking for a new job.
When you’ve been doing the same job for a long time, it’s easy to become comfortable. I probably stayed much longer than I should of because of the pay, benefits, and fear of change. I honestly didn’t really think about getting a new job until my daughter was born, but I did take steps to reinvent myself since I was blogging.
I put more emphasis on being an expert and wrote in a very specific way. I believe those small things made me unique and more marketable. Now think about how you can reinvent yourself to get your next job. What skills are required to land that job? If you already have that skill, how can you market it?
In many cases, it’s really something as simple as updating your resume and LinkedIn profile to show that’s what you’re good at. I’m not suggesting you lie on your resume (don’t do it), but what I mean is that your online profile is something that you may have control over so why not have it reflect on how you want to be seen?
I didn’t hate my previous job (I actually liked what I did), but it was time to move on. Like many other people, I struggled with the decision, but I think I did the right thing since it gave me more time with the family. The steps above will hopefully help you set up things, so you can leave when you’re ready if you so desire.