The biggest mistake that career switchers make.
“I don’t want to start over again.”
A potential client said this to me during our coaching chemistry session. He had worked in the real estate industry for 10 years and was really unhappy. Due to a variety of factors – his boss, the company’s strategy, the outlook of the industry – he was desperate to move into a different role.
He felt like if he changed industries, he’d have to start over again completely. I told him, “You are not starting from scratch. You are starting from experience.”
“You are not starting from scratch. You are starting from experience.”
But he was stuck in his fixed mindset. He thought he’d have to take a huge pay-cut. He didn’t want to have a lower title. He didn’t want his career to slow down just as all his friends were being promoted and getting huge bonuses.
He was in his early 30’s. So I said, “You have 20-30 more years of work ahead of you before you can retire. What would your life look like if you kept doing this same thing that makes you miserable?” He paused and looked scared. “Oh, I didn’t think of it that way,” he said.
I’ve had this same conversation with so many clients. Many of them are unhappy, want to change roles or industries, start their own company or pursue their dreams. Yet, something holds them back from starting on their own transition. It’s this fear of starting over. I am here to tell you that you are NOT starting over. You are starting from experience.
Below, I’ve shared some of the most common blockers that I hear from my clients when they are thinking about making a career transition. Do any of these sound like you? If so, please read on and start taking your next step today. Let’s talk.
Time This is the biggest mistake I see career switchers make. Career transitions take time. Depending on
your industry, seniority and the amount of preparation you have done, it could take anywhere from 3 to 12 months. Career expert Madeline Mann has some great content on this topic, including the adage that “the long way really is the short way,” when it comes to changing careers. The question to ask yourself is: “If I don’t start now, in 2 years will I be in the same place? What’s the cost of delaying?”
Applying to roles online If you are a career switcher, don’t even bother applying for roles online! I’ve written before about how ineffective it is to apply for roles on job boards. This is particularly true if your resume speaks only to your previous roles and is NOT tailored to your target career. Somehow, candidates think that everyone will just “see” your transferable skills and you’ll be able to transition into that new career really easily. Recruiters are not trained to look for transferrable skills – they just want someone who will check all of the boxes. Many of my clients come to me after months of applying for roles online with no luck. Don’t waste your time!
Grasp at the first opportunity If you are really unhappy in your current role or are in a toxic work situation, it’s normal to want to leave as quickly as possible. However, if you just grab at the first opportunity you see without doing the proper due diligence, you could end up in an even worse situation. Swinging from one terrible environment to another can have a huge negative impact.
The first step in a career transition is to make a plan. Reflect on your career: I call this doing a “career audit.” When were you most happy? What was happening around you? Who was there? What are some of the things you have achieved? What are you most proud of? Then consider your strengths, expertise and values. Putting all of those together will help you to uncover the “unique you” that brings value to a new role or organization.
When were you most happy? What was happening around you? Who was there?
If you are working 16-hour days at your toxic job and feel like you don’t have the time to do this exercise, start with just 15 minutes a day. By the end of the week, you’ll have dedicated 1.15 hours to YOU. By the following week, 2.5 hours and by the end of the month, 5 whole hours. Make that time count toward getting you out of your toxic environment and into something that you are really passionate about.
Getting hung up on title and salary Yes, it’s true that there are likely to be differences in your title and salary if you are making a career switch. The first step is to acknowledge that fact and accept it so you can move forward. This is a good time to ask yourself some hard questions about what’s really important to you. What do you value? What do you really want out of your career and your life? You may be getting a lower salary, but is it worth it if it comes with a better lifestyle (remote work, more autonomy, etc) or a career you are really passionate about? It may take you a few years to get your salary back to where you’d like it to be, but your earning potential is limitless when you are doing something you love.
Titles don’t really mean much. What is more important is the scope of work you are doing. What is your remit? What kind of exposure do you have to VIP clients? If you do good work, the title you want will come.
Not doing enough (or any) research Lastly, knowledge is power when it comes to changing careers. Do your research on sites like Glassdoor and Comparably so you can get an understanding of the salary ranges and title structure in your target industry. Manage your own expectations so you aren’t disappointed or stressed when you do get a job offer. In fact, you will be happy and excited because it aligns to your goals, values and passion.
So what’s next? After reading this list of mistakes and pitfalls, what should you do?
Even if you aren’t ready.
Start small. Even that 15 minutes each day to download some articles, make minor updates to your LinkedIn profile or do some company research make a difference.
Just START. Remember that the time it takes to make a career transition should not be underestimated.
Not convinced yet? Check out my recent guest spot on the Actsplore This podcast, where I give more tips and insights into making successful career transitions.