Persistence is a big part of success. Whether you're looking for a new job or trying to change careers, it's easy to find negative advice. The Internet is filled with experts who can give countless (bad) reasons why you will fail. However, if you're doing the right thing and you believe in yourself, success is almost always possible (See The Dip by Seth Godin).
Thomas Jefferson captured this idea in these words: "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."
Few people changed American popular culture more than Walt Disney. From Mickey Mouse to his theme parks, Disney could be said to be as creative in his field as Steve Jobs was in his. What was the secret to his success? Disney himself might have captured it best in these words:
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
Disney's words should be taken seriously by anyone looking for a new job or trying to change careers. It's important to make plans before we act. However, too often making plans becomes a substitution for doing something. If you want to make a change, follow Disney's advice -- "begin doing."
The men who signed the Declaration of Independence put their lives on the line. They knew that their freedom required the courage to take a great risk. Changing jobs is not quite as drastic a change or risk, but it does take some courage. If you're unhappy in your current job or want to take a different course in your career, reflect for a minute on what happened on July 4, 1776. Change is never easy. It involves courage and risk. However, if you're not will to take those chances, nothing will change. Think about your career in this terms.
Happy Fourth of July.
I love this quotation from Lincoln: "Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today." The worst enemy in a job search or career change is inaction. Whenever you tell yourself that you'll do it tomorrow, ask this question: "What's stopping me from doing it today?" If you have a good reason for delaying action, then you should wait for tomorrow. However, if you keep putting off what you should do today, that will limit your opportunities to find a job. Set written goals and note when you are delaying action. If "I'll do it tomorrow" is a habit, it's one you will need to break to be successful.
The founder of McDonald's Ray Kroc showed deep wisdom when he said, "If you work just for money, you'll never make it, but if you love what you're doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours."
Love what you do, and serve your customer. It's easy to say those words, but often hard to follow up on them. Money pushes us to occupations that we really don't want to do. Over the last 13 years, several of my clients have told me they don't want to be in sales or management, but: "That's where the money is." Some polls I've read say that a third of doctors would change careers if they could. The problem? Income.
What can you do if you're in such a position? Forget about the money and focus on your customer. If you are doing a service to someone else (which includes internal customers like students, co-workers, and even bosses), you will find some meaning and satisfaction in your work -- and you get to keep the money. However, if you don't get satisfaction from serving your customer, it is time to think about changing careers. As Ray Kroc said, money in itself is never enough. Success is not the ability to buy things. It is the ability to be excited in doing your work and taking pride in how it helps others.
Albert Schweitzer wrote: "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."
If you feel unsuccessful in your career, it's time to start thinking about what kind of work would make you happy. Some career coaches recommend finding your "passion." For many job seekers or career changers, that search leads to a dead end. Passion is often hard to define. I recommend that clients focus on discovering their gifts. Think about gifts as skills and knowledge you use on the job that you enjoy. If you want to be happy and successful, find a job that lets you use your gifts.
One of my clients is making a career change. He was a senior manager, but is now looking for a lower pressure role. We were practicing interviewing skills, and he talked about problem solving, leadership, and communication skills. The problem was that he never gave any idea about how he would use those skills in the job he was applying for. I recommended that he take about ten note-cards, put a soft skill on top of each one, and then list 3-5 examples of how he used those skills. After that, he should practice telling stories without worrying about saying the same thing each time. Good interview answers should be clear and concise. They also need to be substantial if you want potential employers to recognize that you can do the job.
A client is changing careers, and she came up with a great way to improve her networking outreach. She is giving her network partners a profile page that will help them understand her reasons for changing careers and some key points they should use to describe her. I love the idea and helped her edit the sheet.
If you're in a similar place in your career, here's the model. Start with a brief 4-5 sentence paragraph that explains how and why you are changing careers. Then list 5-6 talking points that focus on transferable skills and achievements that demonstrate why you will be able to be successful in your new career. If you don't provide this information to your network partners, they might be trying to help you, but they will think of you in your previous role, not where you want to go next in your career. This sheet shouldn't take long to create. It will work wonders in making your networking more effective.
Most people think about career change in terms of finding work that will be meaningful. They want to follow their passion. That’s a great goal, but any career transition needs to start with this question: How much money do I need to earn? Would-be career changers often ignore this question, and they are shocked to learn that their dream career will not pay enough to let them cover their living costs.
Before beginning a career change, you need to research average pay for the field you are seeking to enter. Develop a realistic budget to see if you can cut your costs. After taking these steps, you can decide if a new career path is realistic or just a dream.
Most clients who are considering career change start with two bad ideas. First, they assume they will have to go back to school. Second, they believe they will have to step down the career ladder back to entry level. Neither of these assumptions is necessarily true. If you can prove to a hiring manager that you can do the job, the experience and knowledge you have developed during your career will usually be enough to make a career change.
What would-be career changers too often ignore are transferable skills, which are skills that can be used on multiple jobs. Let me give you two examples from my recent projects.
Retail Manager to Human Resources: A client had extensive experience in retail management. Rather than talk about that industry, we focused on the skills he used that were related to HR: Onboarding, training, interviewing, and hiring. He completed certification in HR law and recruiting for diversity. This background, along with a good work history, enabled him to make the career transition he was seeking.
Event Management to Purchasing: Another client wants to move from an eight year career in planning and managing corporate events to purchasing. In her case, we focused on skills that included sourcing, negotiation, vendor relations, and logistics. In several cases, this client can give examples of how she reduced costs through her ability to negotiate price and terms. These skills will let her make the jump to a new career.
If you are considering changing careers, think about how you have developed and used transferable skills. It is very possible that you can pursue a career change right now. Show how you are able to do the new job, and be confident in your ability.
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