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Your Career Change: The Gasoline Effect

Are you looking over the great job divide, wondering if the grass is greener on the other side?

Employees make career changes for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s not your ideal move, but your company is downsizing. Perhaps you’ve accomplished all you can in your job and need something more.

Whatever the case, navigating a career change requires careful consideration.

If you’re ready to get on the road to your next position or new career, don’t use lighter fluid to fuel the fire.

Get the process really going with this “gasoline effect.”

Step 1: Know your why

Hating your job is not a “why.” If you don’t uncover why you’ve outgrown your job, you may end up in a new job with the same outcome.

You need to know why you’re making the change, why a new career will be an improvement and what the risks to changing will be.

Throughout this process, you may recognize that the grass isn’t greener and that all you need to be happy in your existing role is to advance your skillset. Alternatively, you may realize that you DO need to change jobs.

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Step 2: Identify the what

Take some time to evaluate what you think your new job will look like. What will it lack? What will it not have?

Keep in mind that you should also evaluate your “career capital.” What can you leverage in your new career?

  • Skills?
  • Do you have contacts that can help you make the transition?
  • How about your professional branding?

Research shows that those who successfully navigate a career change by leveraging their career capital thrive and succeed.

Step 3: Know what you need

With a clearly identified path of where you want to go and why, now it’s time to recognize the skills you need to get there.

It could be as simple as learning Excel, or a bit more challenging and time-intensive, like developing leadership and project management skills.

Do some investigating and look at job descriptions for the career you’re targeting. Then, make a list of skills and competencies that are required, and compare them to your resume.

Step 4: Develop a plan

Chart out a plan to invest in gaining the new skills you’ll need to make the career change. Make sure to identify a timeline and work backwards.

With major milestones in place, you can fill out the chart with the skills you need, people you need to get to know, and what you need to do in your current job to move to the next level.

Accomplishing these small steps will give your career change momentum — like putting gasoline to a fire.

Step 5: Monitor your efforts

Every good plan goes to waste if you don’t track your efforts.

Set up reminders on your phone or create a spreadsheet.

Just make sure you’re using some kind of tool to monitor your progress and keep you on track.

Step 6: Brand yourself right

As you develop an understanding of your new target audience, you’ll probably need to revamp your personal brand a bit.

The people you network with and the hiring managers that you talk to won’t be able to make the shift on their own.

Instead, you need to identify the set of keywords that you want to be known for and make your personal brand extremely obvious –  on all your materials: your cover letter, your resume, your LinkedIn profile, in your personal appearance and your elevator pitch.  Be consistent. Tell others and show others how to perceive you and your skills.

Step 7: Get help

Use your contacts to help you advance in your career.

But be specific. Instead of saying you’re making a career change, ask your trusted circle to help you out in specific ways, like making an introduction or inquiring about a position in their company.

Yes, change is scary. But staying in a stagnant job without the possibility of growth or satisfaction should be just as motivating to make a move.

So go ahead and throw some gasoline on your career change.