Between the labor shortage and a movement of workers transitioning to different jobs, all anyone can talk about right now is The Great Reshuffle (also known as The Great Resignation). Undoubtedly, the pandemic has intensified this wave, but the shift speaks to something more profound. It speaks to the hunger for more—and everyone has a different appetite. Some want more growth or stability, while others want to be more creative or waste less time commuting.
First, not everyone has the time or luxury of changing careers, but that doesn’t mean you are trapped. While switching jobs is tough, and shifting industries is even more daunting—it is not impossible. After spending over five years as a software engineer and over six years as a teacher before that, I am now in my second year of a new career in recruiting.
Switching careers does not always have to be dramatic (or traumatic). Let’s break down some achievable steps that will get you closer to your ideal job:
Define your goal. You must be honest with yourself and what you want in a job. Let’s say you have been craving tacos all day, but you decide on ordering a wedge salad at dinner. While the wedge salad is an excellent option for many, dinner left you unsatisfied, and now you’re at a Taco Bell drive-thru at 9:30 pm. When leaving my job as a teacher, I chose the software engineer route because I knew tech careers would be in high demand—which meant job security. It also didn’t hurt that the income was leaps and bounds over what I was making as a teacher. After a while, it just felt I was punching my card. At that point, it was not a question of if I should switch careers, but when. It’s okay to make changes to your career path as long as you are clear about your goals, true to yourself, and honor your passions in life.
Be patient with the process. Once you have decided on making a career change, there might be a few hurdles to reaching your goal. You might not have certain keywords on your resume or the magic number of years of experience, but don’t be discouraged. It’s easy to let these frustrating times creep into your head and stir doubt. However, part of the process will require looking at your transferrable skills and determining the building blocks necessary to make the jump—and that takes some work and a little bit of time. If you are consistent with your efforts, the right opportunity will show up when you are ready. Pro-tip: take inventory of your soft skills and highlight them!
Be strategic with your search. If you find yourself applying to interior design roles one day and tech program management roles the next, take a step back. While the shotgun approach to applying to every open job might feel productive, it’s crucial to stay strategic and intentional with your search so the opportunities you are chasing will ultimately move you closer to your goals. One tactic is to visualize skills and experiences as building blocks, take stock of the building blocks you have, and target opportunities that offer the building blocks you need. Applying to jobs can be a numbers game but sticking to your overall plan means you are valuing everyone’s time—especially your own.
Talk to people who are where you want to be. Wondering what it is like to work in specific industries or roles? Ask! Do some research and reach out to people who are currently in the areas you would like more information. Find out what excites them about their work and which parts they would avoid. Another option is to volunteer or job shadow someplace that will give you a glimpse of what a typical day looks like. If you can fall in love with the highs and learn from the lows, you might have found your spot.
Work with recruiters who have your back. When I was a developer, I had worked with my fair share of recruiters. I could always tell the ones who were genuinely there to help versus the ones who would put my resume in a database, never to be seen again. Working with different recruiters can be a process of trial and error, but it’s important to stay persistent in finding the ones who match your style. I know I am not the cat’s pajamas for every person I talk to, maybe because I use terms like “cat’s pajamas.”
Resigning from your current job is often not for the faint of heart. That being said, you do not have to wait for the world to be turned on its head to make the change. Check in with yourself regularly and pay attention to the signs leading you toward a shift. Making the “great reshuffle” might be an overwhelming process, but boy, is it worth it when you finally land your dream job. Every step you take toward achieving your goals will be a new experience motivating you to keep moving forward.
Lastly, remember to pay it forward. Until then, stay humble and stay hungry. Good luck.