Are you wondering how to change careers this year? If you want to do it safely and successfully, keep reading.

There are 3 elements to every successful career change. Think of these as the “3 Cs of career change.” You need all 3 to be prepared to change careers this year.

How to Change Careers Step #1: Clarity

Career change is intimidating, and it can be overwhelming. There is so much is on the line. Your career influences your income and life options, your health, your ability to contribute, and your sense of self. That’s too important to leave to chance.

Don’t change careers just for the sake of changing; a tremendous amount of energy goes into a career change. Don’t waste energy just to repeat what you’re already doing. Even if you can spare the time, you can’t spare the life force. Get your career change right the first time.

This may sound obvious, but if you’re applying for jobs you’re not even sure you want, you know what I’m talking about. Same goes for taking marketing courses before you know what business you would start.

Now is not the time to mess around, experiment, or pursue half-baked ideas.

If you are going to get a new job, you need to know that the job is going to fulfill your sense of purpose and let you make a contribution that matters to you. What job will use your strengths and give you the income that meets your needs and dreams? What job has a work environment and culture that will fit your personality; that is sustainable and inspiring so you can continue to do your great work and allow you to have a life outside of work?

If you’re going to start a business, you need to know all that PLUS what kind of problem you solve, who you solve it for, and make sure there’s alignment between what you want to do and what is needed by the people on the receiving end.

That’s a lot of pieces to get right. To make this easier, I guide clients through a very simple framework so we make sure all of these needs get met.

How to Change Careers Step #2: Crossfade

To safely change careers, we’re not going to “leap and hope the net appears.” Too much is at stake: Mortgage or rent, health insurance that may be tied your job, kids, responsibilities, etc. You need to have a practical plan in place.

Because you don’t flip a light switch and overnight wake up in a new career, it’s important to have a transition plan. I call it a Crossfade. You fade out of current career, and fade into new career. It’s the easiest, safest, and most secure way to transition from one career to another.

We start making this plan by identifying the gaps between your current career and your Homecoming Career and how will you fill those gaps.

Some common gaps are:

  • Education (though only 3% of clients find they need to go back to get a degree)
  • Making sure you have enough financial cushion to get from here to there
  • Relationships (do you need to meet and talk to more people who do the job you want or who could be potential clients?)

A Crossfade career change may take longer, but it is safer.

2 Examples of Career Change Crossfades

“J” started as a Project Manager who wanted to move into UX/UI design. She started by filling in the gaps in her education by getting training on programming concepts/skills, then began working on freelance UI/UX projects. Now she’s successfully transitioned to a Product Designer at a software development company.

“K” discovered that her meaningful work was to be a photographer. She made the transition from being a stay-at-home-mom into owning her own photography business by first looking to be hired as a photographer by an existing company. That way she concentrate on getting better at photography without spending her time and energy also worrying about learning how to run a business at the same time. Career changes that are entrepreneurial take longer, where moving from job to job can often move more quickly.

The point is that they both had a sensible, practical way to transition into their new career and you will need that, too.

How to Change Careers Step #3: Confidence

Career change confidence means both confidence in yourself and in how you communicate with others.

How confidence in yourself impacts your career change

If you are choosing a career that is truly meaningful, it’s going to ask more of you. This doesn’t mean that a meaningful career will drain or exhaust you, but you will be challenged to bring more of yourself into your work. It may be more leadership, visibility, vulnerability, collaboration, creativity, something. You may be tempted to hide from it, but we need you ready to meet it and rise to it. You may be called to shift in identity and in how you show up and relate to others.

How confidence in your communication impacts your career change

You cannot wait for others to see your potential or develop confidence in you that you do not have for yourself. Communicate who you are, what you have to offer, and the dollar amount that that’s worth.

This is not fake it til you make it territory. People will smell your lack of self-esteem and that sets you up to be taken advantage of. If you’re willing to accept crumbs, if you’re too intimidated to negotiate for yourself, to advocate for yourself, or to walk away from something that’s ok but not great, then you are putting yourself in a precarious position.

You need a genuine, quiet confidence in yourself and your abilities. This also means you can make peace with it when you pass on things or get passed on.

You need all 3 Cs

To successfully change careers, you’ll need all three 3s: clarity, a Crossfade, and confidence.

If you falter on any one of these three, your career change is not likely to give you the lasting change you’re seeking and will be a frustrating experience that may set you back years before you’re ready to try again.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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