Do you have a well-honed, transferable skill? Are you having trouble figuring out how to apply that skill to jobs other than the one you have? This is a common problem, especially for those with a lot of experience. This past weekend’s New York Times featured a story I found to be hopeful and illustrative of the way in which successful career change really happens. And it told the story of a writer, in a profession that has diminished in market value as it’s become harder and harder to get paid to write.
Here are some career change lessons from this post:
Look for Clues in What You Choose to Do When You’re Not Working
The author describes helping his nephew with his college essay, and feeling like he was expected to share his writing skills within his family. In this case he clearly enjoyed being able to help in such a concrete way, and he enjoyed even more feeling a part of his nephew’s success when he was accepted to college.
Talk to People Both Inside and Outside Your Current Field
You never know where good advice will come from, so share your career dilemma with lots of people. The more you share it, the more opportunities for someone to come up with something that resonates with you. In this case, it was again a family member who pointed out that there was a profession associated with helping students develop their college essays.
Meet Professionals in Your Prospective Field
When considering a new field, do your homework by meeting with as many people as you can to provide a perspective on what it’s like in the profession and to share advice on the positives and negatives to get a balanced view.
Try the New Career on For Size
It’s important to experiment with the new field by putting yourself out there as an expert to see if your idea has legs. In the author’s case, he sent out a series of postcards to parents at local high schools and got some responses, which led to a few clients. Now he had a sample of students to test his concept with.
As Herminia Ibarra says in her transformational book Working Identity, “By far the biggest mistake people make when trying to change careers is to delay taking the first step until they have settled on a destination.”