I’ve been having lots of conversations lately with women ready to “do the new” in their careers.
One of them found herself bumped out of her communication job by someone who had more experience with social media.
Another is a lawyer who has done the same high-pressure job for so long she’s exhausted from all the hours and stress.
One woman has been doing the same job since college and she is bored, bored, bored but as the breadwinner in her family, she’s afraid to make a change.
All of them are trying to figure out what’s next and how to move forward.
I get it. As someone who spent 40 years as a reporter and decided to change careers, I know how terrifying it can be, feeling like you are walking off a cliff.
But you don’t have to free fall. You have all the skills and courage you need to make a change.
As someone who helps media and communication students launch their careers every day, I see some clear steps anyone at any age can take to transition from where you are to where you want to go, even if you aren’t sure where that is exactly.
This is a journey.
In other words, don’t quit your day job if you have one.
If you lost your job, try not to panic.
1) Get organized.
Make a list of the skills you would most like to use in your next job. Sounds simple right? Sometimes just making that list helps you get focused on what’s important to you. My list included writing, teaching, speaking.
Make a list of priorities, what’s important to you. Salary? Benefits? Location? Something that feeds your soul? Structured environment? More independence?
2) Start talking to your network of friends.
Do it quietly if you are currently working. Get coffee. Get lunch. Meet with friends who are in careers that interest you. Start exploring what’s out there.
I remember meeting with a friend in public relations thinking that might be an option for me. After finding out what was involved, I crossed it right off my list. You might be in this process of exploring and networking for a while. I did it for the good part of a year.
I tell my college students, they are starting this process as soon as they get to campus. Do you have a mentor you trust at work? Maybe there is some movement possible within your organization. Volunteer for committees or internal groups that will help you network with a different group of people. You might be able to network your way into something new without changing companies.
3) Get your LinkedIn profile and resume together.
I’d been in the same job for 28 years. I put a piece of paper in a typewriter to make my last resume and LinkedIn obviously didn’t exist in 1987.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve switched careers, spend some time on this. The world has changed. Resumes have changed and LinkedIn is an essential networking/job hunting tool. As someone who looks at resumes every day, I can tell you they must be well organized so someone can scan it and see what they need to see in 6 seconds.
No joke. I can do it in 3.
You might need a resume that can first get through an applicant tracking system.
I could write a book about this (maybe I will) but if you haven’t done this in a long time you might want to get some professional assistance.
Everyone in the professional world needs a LinkedIn. It’s your professional Facebook page. If you set it up right with the right keywords, recruiters and jobs will come to you.
Again, you might want to seek professional help on this. (See Donna Serdula’s LinkedIn for Dummies) Start connecting to your professional network of friends. Join professional groups to learn about opportunities.
This isn’t an overnight step. Plan to spend time on it.
4) Consider getting a mentor, a reverse mentor or going back to school.
If you feel like technology has passed you by, making you feel like a dinosaur or vulnerable in your job, it’s time to do the new by learning some new tricks.
Don’t feel bad. Even my college students feel like things are changing so quickly, they can barely keep up. I have a student worker who is going to teach me how to use MailChimp and excel over the winter break, while I work with her on her resume and cover letters. Trade your life career experience for some new skills with a younger mentor.
I’m working on my Masters too. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned just by going back to school and being forced to think with a different part of my brain again. Yep. It can be scary but it’s also exhilarating. There are some amazing online programs for professionals. You don’t have to do this in a sprint. I’ve been taking one class at a time for years. Some schools offer the first classes for free so you can try it out.
You can do this!
5) Make time for you.
And this is a hard one. You can’t make a change unless you make time for you. I gave 200% to my last job. That got me everywhere I wanted to go..until I wanted to go.
When I started my journey to make a change, I had to dial it back to 100% and no more. Some days 80%. No nights, weekends, all the extras I used to put in. I had to save something for me.
I think often times as women we give it all. We give it all at the office. We worked harder and longer than anyone else. Now, you have to give some of that energy to you and to discover where you are going next. I know this is true because I’ve talked to so many women who’ve done the same thing.
Don’t feel guilty. I’m pretty sure you paid your dues over and over again.
Be open. I knew I wanted to speak and teach, (which I do now), but I had no idea coaching and mentoring college students, (which I did voluntarily throughout my professional career) was something I could do for a living. A professional friend who I had lunch with sent me a job posting I would never have even looked at on my own and it changed everything for me.
I love my work at the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University and I also love daring students and adult audiences to create more of the life and career they want. You CAN change! You CAN learn new things! You CAN start the journey today.
It’s okay to be afraid. It’s not okay to stand still.
Take one little step and then another. You’ll find it gets easier as you get going.
Need more inspiration? Read I Dare Me. I hope it helps sparks your new journey.