I mostly work with boomer executives who have a job.
They come to me to revive their executive resume, career bio, and other career marketing tools because either they foresee a possible layoff, or they haven’t revisited these documents in a long time and know they need to keep them up to date and at the ready.
Some of these employed clients of mine are considering a career transition. They feel mired in careers that aren’t fulfilling. Somehow, their career paths didn’t lead them where they had promised. They find themselves asking “Where and when did it all take the wrong turn?” They feel that if they don’t get into something soon that will feed their passions, it will be too late to even try.
In a recent teleseminar through Reach Personal Branding, Brian Kurth, founder of VocationVacations, spoke about how to plan and actualize a career transition.
He said that before embarking on your dream job, you need to identify just what your passions are so that you can match them with a job that will ignite them.
Sounds obvious, but what you hold up as your dream job may not actually fulfill your passions. You may have an unrealistic idea of what that job entails.
Many people dream of being a bed and breakfast owner. But they may have no conception of the daily grind – rising very early to greet and feed strangers their breakfast, dealing with drunken guests who stumble in loudly at all hours of the night, being available 24/7, etc.
Given the chance to work the job for a day or two, they may determine that their goal is not a good fit after all.
That’s why I love the concept of VocationVacations. The program connects career transitioners with mentors working in the exact job they want, so they can test drive the job of their dreams. They have over 300 experts on board representing over 125 careers, with whom you can partner and receive 2 days of shoulder-to-shoulder mentoring.
Here are some interesting career mentorships available through the program:
Pit Crew Member
In the teleseminar, Brian discussed the 8 steps to career change:
1. Define What a “Great Job” Is
Define where your strengths are, whether or not you use them every day now. Create a list. You may not have been honing them lately, but they’re still there, waiting for you to tap back in and fortify. Don’t focus at all on your weaknesses.
Create a vision board – go to an art store, buy supplies, and create a collage of your interests. If you can’t figure out what they are, do some reading and researching. Find anything that defines who you are and what you want to become. This will help you define your core strengths and core interests. Suddenly everything starts coming together. When you put it out there, things start coming at you. There’s science behind the fact that focusing on what you want will help make the vision a reality.
2. Address Fear
Fears never go away. We live and breathe them every day. But we can cope with them. The 3 fear factors are:
➤ Fear of loss of identity. You’re a doctor, or you’re a corporate CEO, or maybe you’re a teacher. Now you’re thinking of being a baker, or non-profit director, or brew master. How do you tell your family and friends about what may be a “step down” and keep them from dampening your excitement?
➤ Fear of failing family and friends. They’ve supported you along the way. What if you fail them? Or maybe you don’t have the support of those closest to you. They may not want you to make the change. An external resource may be necessary to get you over the fear.
➤ Most prevalent by far is fear of financial insecurity. What if you lose it all and never make it back? What’s the worse case scenario – bankruptcy? Plan how you’d deal with it, if it did happen. Turn around the negativity and say “I will be successful. It will work.”
3. Create an Action Plan with a Timeline and Goals
Finding the ideal career requires following a series of the right small steps to advance you toward your goal. Make a list of what you’ll need to learn to get there. Your transition plan will impel you to keep moving ahead.
4. Find a Mentor
Mentorship is a critical part of reinvention. You need hand-holding. Find someone who is doing exactly what you want to do or close to it. Research until you find the “best of” in that vocation, then reach out to them. Prepare a short elevator pitch to use when approaching them. Flatter them by saying something like, “You’re the top in your field. That’s where I hope to be some day, too.” Tell them you’re not looking for a job, just their advice.
A good mentor in your desired vocation is all of these things – inspirational, experienced, realistic, forthcoming, and optimistic. You need to ask the right questions when assessing a possible mentor, and build a mutually beneficial relationship with them.
5. Test Drive a New Job or Career
We all know the best way to learn is by doing. Test driving is your due diligence – an opportunity to see what happens day to day in that job, how you like it, and what it takes to succeed.
6. Create Your Professional Brand
Branding sets you apart and above your competitors and colleagues. Branding is a way to maximize your unique combination of passions, attributes, skills, strengths, and values, and use them to differentiate yourself from others.
7. Network, Network, Network
You’ve had your test drive with reinvention. Now you’re ready to get out there. Network online and offline with people with similar interests and goals – LinkedIn (especially), Yahoo!Groups, Facebook, and Twitter. One-on-one, in-person networking is just as important. Don’t forget your professional and alumni associations (also research them for possible mentors).
8. Establish Thresholds
Know how much risk, challenge, and uncertainty you can tolerate before your goal becomes blurred. How much money will you need to invest? How long can you afford to give it to work? How will your family feel about relocating, if necessary?
To be realistic, when you transition you’ll probably have to (and should) start at or near the bottom and work your way up. This means a drop in income. Find out what your new income will be and be sure you can live on it.
Blog post photo by Meg Guiseppi