Picked the wrong career? This five-year plan could help

By Kate Ashford|BBC

A significant career change can be overwhelming. This five-year plan could help.

Seven years ago, Donna Lubrano was a personal fitness trainer. Today, she teaches business courses for Northeastern University in Massachusetts in the US — but moving to a completely different career certainly wasn’t easy.

It wasn’t the first time she’d changed careers. Lubrano, 59, had always loved fitness, and after becoming disillusioned with her desk job in real estate portfolio management, she jumped at the chance to become certified to teach at her local gym.

But she also had a master’s degree in international business, so she knew personal training wouldn’t be her career forever. “There comes a time in your life when it’s time to move on,” she said.

She knew she wanted to teach, but that it might take a few years to realise her goal, so she started with what she knew — developing seminars for personal trainers in health and wellness and marketing and sales.

Then, Lubrano leveraged her teaching experience into a job in corporate training. She had to learn a new subject, but her personal training experience had given her relevant skills, such as developing a curriculum and working with clients.

(Credit: Thinkstock)

She also took a pay cut and had to build a new reputation — but it worked. She eventually got her first academic teaching job at a small local college, and after gaining enough experience, she landed her current teaching spot.

Craving a professional change isn’t unusual. Forty-eight percent of US workers feel ready for a career switch, according to a survey by consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison, and another 13% feel they are almost ready. In the UK, 47% of professionals felt the same way, according to a report by the London School of Business and Finance.

But taking steps to make a significant career change can be overwhelming. “One of the mistakes people make when starting a new career is assuming they can just walk into it, that it won’t be a slog,” said Nic Paton, author of The Complete Career Makeover. “Changing careers isn’t easy. It’s much easier not to. It will be a graft and a gamble.”

If you’re looking for a career renovation, here’s your five-year plan.

Five years to go

Often, you know what you don’t want to do, but are unsure what’s next. So, initially, try to focus on the skills you most enjoy using and what kind of environment you thrive in, said Phyllis Mufson, a career coach in Florida.

“Some people are willing to invest in being completely retrained, and for other people that’s really not an option,” Mufson said. “How much money do you need to make? Consider aspirational things like what your interests and passions are, but also, what are the practical constraints that you’re working with?”

Reading books such as What Color Is Your Parachute? or The Encore Career Handbook can help, as can spending some time on self-assessment tests, such as the VIA Character Strengths Test or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

If you have a spouse and children, they’ll be affected by your choices, so discuss your plans with them. “Most career changes are going to cause disruption and a reduction of income — hopefully only temporarily, but perhaps permanently,” Paton said.

When considering a career change, perform a self-audit and make a timeline to achieve your goals (Credit: Thinkstock)

Next, map out achievable steps. Will you save a buffer fund for the lean beginner years in your new field? Will you need additional education? What will that take and cost? And, when is it likely you’ll get another job? Creating a timeline sets the process in motion because you establish concrete goals. “Nine times out of 10, it’s not when you start that’s important, it’s that you start at all,” Paton said.

Checklist: Five years before

  • Perform a self-audit
  • Check in with your loved ones
  • Make a timeline

Four years to go

Once you’ve targeted a new career or industry, make sure it’s the right one for you. Find people who work in the field and ask them for information.

“How did they get started?” Mufson said. “What is a day like? What are the trends in this industry?”

Not sure how to find them? “Search LinkedIn to find somebody that’s doing the exact job that you want in the exact company you’d like to do it in, and ask them if they’d be willing to tell you a little bit about what they do,” said Abby Kohut, a US career expert and author of Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets.

Ask for feedback on your resume — where are the gaps? What additional training would you need? And, what personality traits do you need to be successful?

“It’s the beginning of building your network in your new area. And also, get referrals to other people who would be interesting to talk to,” Mufson said.

Consider shadowing someone in your chosen career or volunteering to get first-hand experience. The job may sound great on paper, but in practice, you’re bored to tears. “There is no substitute for having the actual experience,” Mufson said.

Checklist: Four years before

  • Conduct informational interviews
  • Start networking
  • Get some hands-on experience in the field

Two-to-three years to go

Now is the time to pick up the skills and experience you need to move into the role you want.

This could be formal training, such as the education you’d need to become a nurse or physical therapist, or a less structured series of classes or certificate programme.

Training may not take long, or it might require five years of education or more. But, if you have a full-time job and a family, and your new role requires formal education, this stage will require some financial planning.

Before jumping into a degree programme, calculate the cost, including interest if you borrow money to fund study and the loss of income if you go full-time, and compare it with your likely wages in your new field.

Confirm whether an academic credential is even required. “Possibly you can get hired with skills learned in other ways,” Mufson said. “Look at other jobs in the field that don’t require as much education to get started and that you’d enjoy.”

You may be able to get the education you need online — although it’s not every employer’s ideal credential. “But if that’s the only way you can do it because you’re working, then you just have to do it. It’s becoming more prevalent,” Kohut said.

Or, get creative. “One client wanted to train as a software engineer but didn’t have the money for training,” Mufson said. “She got a job as a receptionist at a computer company with liberal education benefits and her company paid for her education.”

(Credit: Getty Images)

This is also a good time to attend conferences related to your new profession and meet potential new employers. “They need to see that you’re serious and really working on it,” Kohut said.

You may need to take a short-term career stepback to get where you’re going. That’s what worked for May Tran, who took three years to move from a role in finance to a job in digital marketing. “To make the switch, I took on junior marketing roles, starting at the bottom,” said Tran, 34, who lives in Dubai.

Checklist: Two-to-three years before

  • Start schooling or other training
  • Attend industry events
  • Take an interim career step if necessary

One year to go

It’s job search time, which might take a while.

“It took a year to find a teaching job,” Lubrano said. “It was tough, because they had to see the big picture of everything I’d done and how that would transfer into the classroom.”

How will you present the new you? Begin by rethinking your resume and online presence, such as your LinkedIn profile or professional website. “What you’re going to be doing is presenting the parts of your background that are still a fit for your new direction,” Mufson said. “And as much as you can, present it as a credential, stressing your school or volunteer work that you’re doing.”

The same goes for interviews. “What are the aspects of your personality that make you a good fit?” Mufson said. “What have you learned through your training?” Practise responses to common interview questions and find stories that illustrate the kinds of problems you can solve.

Whatever you do, don’t go into this process thinking your past achievements will land you the corner office. “Many people believe that because they’ve been successful in one career, that the world owes them a job in their new career,” Kohut said.

With enough dedication, however, it is possible to do a career 180. Just ask Stephanie David, 35, who left a government career in Washington DC to launch PopNod, a social good online shopping site. “My previous 11 years in corporate strategy, business development and sales were directly applicable to growing my own business,” David said. “Never underestimate the skills you already have and the power of passion.”

Checklist: One year before

  • Watch for job opportunities
  • Retool your resume
  • Hone your interview patter
  • Don’t get cocky

[CN]

入错行了?这个五年规划或许能帮到你

七年前,唐纳·卢布拉诺(Donna Lubrano)曾经是一位私人健身教练。如今,她在美国马萨诸塞州的东北大学(Northeastern University)教授商业课程——不过进入一个全新的行业并不是一件容易的事。

这不是卢布拉诺第一次转行了。现年59岁的她曾经热衷健身,由于对房地产投资组合管理的文书工作感到心灰意冷,她抓住了机会,在获得认证后成为当地健身房的教练。

但是她同时还拥有国际商业硕士学位,所以她知道她不会一直做个人健身教练。“人生走到某个时候,总要转变方向,”她说。

她知道她想要教书,但是要实现这个目标可能需要花费几年的时间。于是,她从自己熟悉的领域起步——为私人教练做有关健康、营销和销售方面的讲座。

然后,卢布拉诺利用她的讲座经验找到了一份企业培训的工作。为此,她需要学习一门新的学科,不过因为她有私人教练的经验,所以她已经具备了相关的技能,比如制定课程大纲,以及与客户打交道。

她还要面对收入下降的问题,并且需要从头开始建立自己的名声——但她成功了。她最后获得了在当地的一个小型大学做老师的机会。在获得了足够的经验以后,她拿到了现在的教学职位。

渴望职业转型是寻常事。根据咨询公司Lee Hecht Harrison的一项调查,在美国,48%的雇员认为自己已做好了改行的准备,另有13%的雇员认为已基本准备好。根据伦敦商业金融学院(London School of Business and Finance)的一项报告,在英国,47%的职场人士有相同的看法。

但是,着手改行可能会让人手足无措。“常见的一个错误就是,人们往往以为自己可以毫不费力地进入新的行业,”The Complete Career Makeover(《职业改行全面指南》)一书的作者尼克·帕顿(Nic Paton)说,“改行并不容易。不改行要容易很多。它是一次嫁接,也是一次赌博。”

如果你想改变你的职业,下面就是你的五年规划。

第一年

通常,一个人知道自己不想做什么,但是不确定接下来要做什么。所以,首先尝试把注意力集中在你热衷的技能和如鱼得水的环境,佛罗里达州的职业培训师菲莉丝·穆夫森(Phyllis Mufson)建议到。

“一些人愿意投资重新学习一个全新的领域,而对另一些人来说这种方式不太现实,”穆夫森说,“你需要赚多少钱?一方面要考虑一下你的志向、兴趣和激情,另一方面要看到你面对的实际限制。”

读一些书会有帮助,比如What Color Is Your Parachute?(《你的降落伞是什么颜色?》)、The Encore Career Handbook(《重新再来职业手册》)。你也可以花时间做自我评估测试,比如VIA性格长处测试(VIA Character Strengths Test)或迈尔斯-布里格斯类型指标(Myers-Briggs Type Indicator)。

如果你有配偶和小孩,他们会因为你的选择而受影响,所以你要和他们讨论你的计划。“大多数职业转变都会导致收入中断或减少——希望只是暂时的,但也可能是永久的,”帕顿说。

下一步,规划一下能够实现的步骤。你会不会存一笔缓冲资金,支持你头几年在新领域学习的开支?你是否需要接受更多的教育?那需要花多长时间?多少钱?以及,你找到下一份工作可能会是在什么时候?制定一条时间线会让整个过程开始运转,因为你确立了具体的目标。“90%的情况是,什么时候开始不重要,要不要开始才是关键,”帕顿说。

核对清单:第一年

进行一次自我评估和你的家人确认制定一个时间表

第二年

“他们是怎么开始的?”穆夫森说,“他们一天的生活是怎样的?该行业目前的发展趋势如何?”

不知道如何找到这些信息?“搜索领英,找到那些在你理想的公司做你理想的工作的人,让他们告诉你他们的工作是什么样的,”美国职业生涯专家、Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets(《阿比的101条求职秘诀》的作者阿比·科胡特(Abby Kohut)说。

让他人阅读你的简历并提出反馈意见——差距在哪里?你需要什么额外的培训?以及,你需要哪些性格特点才能成功?

“这是在一个新的领域开始建立你的人际关系网的开端。以及经由他人介绍,认识你想与之沟通交流的人,”穆夫森说。

可以考虑模仿你所选职业的人,或参加志愿工作以获得第一手的经验。一份工作可能听起来很了不起,但实际上你可能会感到无比厌烦。“实际经验是不可取代的,”穆夫森说。

核对清单:第二年

进行访谈,获取信息建立人脉在该领域获得一些一手经验

第三到四年

现在是时候获得新职位所需的技能和经验了。

这既可以是正式的培训,比如成为护士或理疗师所需的教育,也可以是系统性较弱的系列课程或认证课程。

培训不会花很多时间,获得学位可能需要五年或更长的时间。但是,如果你现在有全职工作,并支持一个家庭,而你的新工作需要正式的教育背景,那么在这个阶段你就需要财务计划。

在准备读学位之前,计算一下成本,包括贷款的利息和因放弃全职工作而损失的收入,把它和新工作的预期收入进行比较。

确认学位是否真的有必要。“有可能,通过其他方式获得的技能也能够让你找到工作,”穆夫森说,“可以在这个领域里从学历要求不高的而且你会喜欢的工作开始做起。”

你也可以在网上获得你需要的教育——尽管不是每个雇主都会对此满意。“但是,如果你同时还在上班,那么你就没有别的选择。现在这种情况变得越来越普遍了,”科胡特说。

或者,可以发挥创造力。“一个客户想要把自己培训成软件工程师,但是付不起学费,”穆夫森说,“她就在一家计算机公司找到了前台的工作,公司给员工比较宽松的教育福利,为她付了学费。”

这也是参加行业会议,会见潜在雇主的好时机。“你应该让雇主看到你认真的态度,而且你正实在地付出努力,”科胡特说。

为了实现最终的职业目标,你的职业生涯在短期内可能需要稍作退步,以退为进。现年34岁的梅·特兰(May Tran)就是这么做的。梅花了三年时间从金融工作转行到数字市场营销领域。“为了实现这一转变,我接受了初级的营销职位,从基层干起,”生活在迪拜的特兰说。

核对清单:第三到四年

开始上学或其他培训参加行业活动如有必要,在职业转变中找一个过渡职位

最后一年

这是找工作的时间。这可能需要一段时间。

“我花了一年时间才找到这份教书的工作,”卢布拉诺说,“这很不容易,因为他们必须要了解我以前所做每一事的意义,以及这些经验如何可以应用到课堂上去。”

你将如何展示新的自我?刚开始可以重新构思你的简历和在网上的自我形象,比如你的领英个人介绍或职业网站。“你要做的就是在你的背景中找到与新方向匹配的部分,”穆夫森说,“尽可能以履历的形式来呈现这一点,强调你的学校或你正在从事的志愿者工作。”

面试也是同理。“你性格的哪些方面让你胜任这个职位?”穆夫森说,“你在培训中学到了什么?”练习如何回答这些常见的面试问题,寻找说明你可以解决问题的例子。

不论如何,不要带有这样一种看法,即过去的成就能够帮助你找到一份好工作。“很多人以为,仅仅因为他们过去获得了成功,在新的领域他们也可以稳妥地获得一份工作,”科胡特说。

不过,只要肯投入,完成180度的职业转变也是可能的。不妨问问现年35岁的斯蒂芬妮·大卫(Stephanie David)。大卫辞去了华盛顿的政府部门工作,创立了一个公益在线购物网站PopNod。“过去11年在公司战略、业务拓展和销售方面的经验可以直接应用到我现在的公司,”大卫说,“千万不要低估了你已经具备的技能和激情的力量。”

核对清单:最后一年

关注工作机会修改简历打磨你的面试技巧不要过于自信。

 

 

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