Are you thinking about changing your career? Maybe you’re coming back to the workforce after being a caregiver, or perhaps you are looking for a new challenge, one with a better salary and benefits. Palette Skills tells you what you need to know for a successful career transition.
Understanding career transitions
So what makes for a successful career transition? And what actually is a career transition, anyway? More than simply seeking a new job after doing something else for a long time, a successful career transition is the gutsy all-in process of leaving behind one occupation and starting a new one. In fact, it means going in an entirely new direction, and changing your career for a different field or industry. While pivoting usually means a shift in direction with one foot planted on familiar ground, a career transition might mean throwing out your old map.
You’re not just switching lanes; you’re charting a course into unfamiliar territory.
It can sound intimidating, but when you’re ready to make a positive change in your work life, your successful career transition can feel like an adventure. Maybe you’ve read about a great opportunity that’s opened up because of an emerging technology or social trend, and you feel ready for a change. Maybe the career you’re already in has stagnated, and now you’re ready to turn your passion into a new vocation. Think of drone geeks who become professional UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) pilots, or weekend gardeners who take the plunge and become full-time horticulturists.
Even if you have a good idea of what you want to do, knowing how to exit your previous occupation and make a successful career transition in a completely different field may seem less clear. So read on!
Why are you planning a career transition?
The reality is that the decision to change careers can be brought on by unexpected life changes, or by a downturn that can leave you reevaluating a career path that used to hold a lot of promise. If a change in your health, or if the needs of your family are making it impossible to continue with your current work, or if you’ve been laid off in an industry that’s downsizing, you may find yourself considering a career transition without a clear vision of where it will take you.
Whether you’ve got your heart set on a certain line of work, or you’re just hoping to find a path that leads somewhere better, the first challenge in making a successful career transition is accepting the emotions you’ll feel. These can include feelings of self-doubt, indecision, and even grief over the breakup with your old career. The good news is that there’s no reason to make any of your choices blindly or in isolation: equipping yourself with up-to-date industry knowledge and the right kinds of support will help you make bold strides toward a successful career transition.
The role of skill development in your career transition
If your previous career left you feeling like a square peg in a round hole, your new career plan will benefit from doing some research. What you’re looking for are industries and occupations where technical innovation has been outpacing workforce skills acquisition. Let’s put it another way: what you want to find are career opportunities in places where employers face talent shortages.
If you plan ahead, a few careful choices when it comes to building your skills might be all that’s needed to align what you offer with what employers need. Finding out more about the ever-evolving job market is pretty easy. Start with consulting firm heavyweights like McKinsey & Company and PwC. Their websites feature “Insights” sections that offer reports on industry trends and workforce development. Statistics Canada’s The Daily is a reliable source of publications that decode industry surveys.
Here’s a hint: try searching for keywords like “skill gap” and “labour shortage,” or even just “trends” using these and other sources. As a starting point, focus on the region where you live. Don’t forget to narrow your results to the last few years for the most relevant analyses.
If you find that practical advice isn’t jumping off the screen, don’t worry. Your goal here is to keep your eyes peeled for job ideas that are a great fit with your aspirations. As you do your research, start to brainstorm questions you can bring to mentors, career counsellors, and prospective employers to help you make confident strategic upskilling choices as you prepare to embark on your bright new career.
Strategies for a successful career transition
Does your plan for a career transition involve going back to school to earn a certificate or other formal credential? Completing a course is an excellent goal to work towards, but don’t just switch into study mode and lose sight of the bigger picture. Stay in touch with your career transition plan by setting networking goals along the way. Your first goal could be to make an appointment with your school’s career advisor to discuss how you hope to apply what you are studying after graduation.
Making the right connections
You never know when a small gesture might lead to a fruitful conversation. Every week, make a point of connecting with someone who is a professional in a field you’re interested in. It’s easy to do this by taking part in a webinar, or by sending a personal message to the author of an article you liked. Meaningful personal advice can come from a number of directions. If you can’t find someone who is currently employed in the role you are pursuing, reach out to someone in a slightly different role or industry.
Keep an open mind to all the things mentorship can be, and remember that it can be a two-way street: a peer-support relationship with someone else undergoing a significant career transition after a similar number of years in their previous career will understand the challenges you are facing, and can offer encouragement as well as prompt you to be self-reflective.
Choose upskilling for a successful career transition
As usual, we’ve saved the best for last. One of the most effective strategies for making a successful career transition is to enroll in a professional upskilling program. Why? There are two important reasons why we think an upskilling bootcamp is the way to go. First of all, few of us have the time or the resources to go back to school, or to start from the beginning of a new career path. Great upskilling programs are designed to connect you quickly to the industry, so that you can begin your new professional career right away. Want an example? SalesCamp from Palette Skills is a 6-week hands-on, live and online career transition and upskilling program designed to give you the practical skills you need to succeed in a B2B tech sales role. It is for professionals who already have previous work experience in another industry, and are looking to make a dedicated career change.
More than 500 people have completed the SalesCamp program, and 90% of them recommend that you sign up, too. 35% of our grads receive a promotion in their new career within 18 months of starting out. Don’t wait! Find out more about SalesCamp here!
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