Looking to Make a Career Change? Here are 5 things to consider
Updated: Dec 20, 2019
Want to know the unspoken secret of trying to find a new job?
It’s a job within a job, one that can require more than the usual output of what you put into your normal day to day. In some ways, it can be a full time endeavor.
Between time spent looking for quality opportunities, networking, interview prep and refinement, there are a number of elements that can easily take up your mental capacity and reduce the momentum needed to make this process successful.
Most clients that I work with in the job transition world have the perception that the first job they apply to on LinkedIn will land them what they’ve been looking for. And while that may be true from time to time, depending on the candidate and timing, the actual process itself is much more of a marathon than a sprint.
Thinking of making a career change soon? Here are 5 things to consider that can help you structure your time, manage your energy, and set you up for success.
1. Keep the Car Moving
The entire job application process is like trying to drive a car. Take your foot off the pedal -- the car stops. Sustain your foot on the pedal -- the wheels of this process gain momentum and moves you forward.
If the car represents the job application process, then each wheel serves as a different tool required to drive your momentum forward. At a fundamental level, these include:
- Wheel 1: Your mindset
- Wheel 2: Managing your opportunity pipeline
- Wheel 3: Building and leveraging your network
- Wheel 4: Interview Prep (plus resume/CV, cover letter refinement)
Like a car, all 4 of these wheels need to be working together to propel straight ahead. If one stops, your job search and application momentum can easily be lost.
2. Mind the Mindset
“I didn’t think this process would be so grueling”. - Former client 3 weeks into the process
If you’re going to successfully maintain output in your current job while looking for a new position (double the effort), then you also need to maintain the mentality that the job application process will be a marathon, not a sprint.
Job searchers with the most sustainable success (re: they don’t drive themselves crazy) set an intention for themselves. This outlook should frame up two realistic acceptance criteria:
1. This process could and likely will take a long time.
2. You will need to expend additional time and energy to the process beyond your normal day-to-day tasks.
By doing this, you’ll help to position your brain for what to expect during this time frame and how to keep the car moving forward.
If your mindset shifts into the ‘sprint mentality’ — the one where you think a one click LinkedIn post gets you to the finish line — then you may find yourself frustrated and driven by a judger mindset that will significantly strain your efforts.
While the process could take anywhere from 3-6 months (or even longer), leaning into the effort and commitment required will free up your mental capacity required for a sustained job push.
3. Manage your Opportunity Pipeline
Want to be tactical about what you’re applying to and maintain a consistent stream of opportunities?
Start treating your potential job opportunities and applications (the second wheel of your car) like a sales pipeline.
To do this, you’ll want to implement and leverage a tool of your choice to get organized and track all of your relevant opportunities in one place. A simple spreadsheet should suffice and if you do go that route, make sure to utilize a status column to be able to quickly get a lay of the land as to where each application stands in your pipeline.
It's imperative that you consistently maintain, groom, and add new opportunities to the job opportunity pipeline wheel as well. By doing so, you can ensure that no matter where you stand in the application process, you're continuing to add quality leads to your pipeline. This way, if you’re deep into an interview process for one job and it falls through, you still have other quality opportunities coming your way.
To keep a consistent flow of new leads coming into your purview, I recommend spending ~1 hour a day into looking for quality opportunities. This number is subjective though, and will change based on how much time you’ve given yourself for this process.
Looking for a simple way to track these opportunities? Click here for a sample job opportunity pipeline tracker.
4. Build and Leverage your Network
Building your network goes hand in hand with growing your opportunity pipeline.
Is it absolutely necessary?
No. But it will strengthen the relationships you have to leverage as well as the quality and number of jobs that come your way.
For managing your networking pipeline, be tactical and create a list of who you know from companies that you’re interested in to help with direct job applications. Some career resource websites state that 60% of positions are filled by networking alone. This provides a strong incentive to find quality opportunities (tracked through the job opportunity pipeline), where your own network channels can send your resume sent to HR. LinkedIn will even show you if you have a connection at the company you’re applying to.
So what if you don’t have that direct network luxury? This is where you may have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to drive your outreach and connections at different organizations.
Attend networking events (there are plenty on Eventbrite) or take the initiative and reach out to professionals on LinkedIn on your own. Send them a note asking to meet for coffee, after work for a drink, or to hop on a quick call to chat about their industry. Almost all professionals love to spend time talking about their success, work stories, and how they’ve grown in their respective field. As long as you’re willing to listen and learn, then having in-person or virtual networking events on a consistent cadence can open up more roads to drive through.
Keep this wheel well oiled by staying in touch with all of the people you meet and connect with over the course of this process. If you’re turning your networking wheel on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, then you’ll likely be in good shape to find someone who can connect you to the role you’ve been looking for.
And don’t forget, you can easily leverage the Job Opportunity Pipeline Tracker spreadsheet to keep track of the conversations you’re having as well.
5. Interview Prep / Resume / Cover Letter
The final wheel that you’ll need to keep turning centers around interview prep. Maintaining a constant stream of job application opportunities becomes way less valuable if you’re not doing your part to sell yourself as the right fit for an open position.
For each opportunity, make sure you’ve done your research on the company, have thoughtful, open-ended questions to ask, and have done your due diligence on the type of questions that you could come up against during the interview. Take things a step further to fine tune this wheel by practicing your answers to potential interview questions with a friend or mentor. Even writing out your answers in bulleted form is an excellent way to prep.
Remember, going through the job application process is a marathon, not a sprint.
The end goal is to keep all of the wheels of your car turning in a sustainable manner. By adhering to the 5 areas above, you’ll be putting yourself in a strong position that propels your momentum forward and will ultimately help you to land the job you’ve been looking for in a tactical and holistic manner.