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4 tips if you are considering a career change

Changing careers can seem intimidating. For so many people, routine and predictability is comfortable, and it’s nice to stay in the comfort zone! On the other hand, change can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. When changing careers, more times than not, that feeling is temporary, and the benefits of taking the leap are well worth it in the long run. Oftentimes, change also leads to growth and happiness. And sometimes, a career change can bring about increased flexibility and a higher salary.

If you’re considering pivoting to a new career, here are four tips to keep in mind as you begin your journey.

Nail down your “why.”

The first step to making a career change is evaluating why you are seeking the change. Is it the work itself? The work/life balance? The pay? The people? Some of these things may be remedied in your current career by switching departments or finding a new employer, but if a change is still desired, it’s important to pursue opportunities that fill the missing gap.  

Dip your toe in the water before diving into the deep end.

We all know individuals who change hobbies every few months only to be tired of them weeks later. Those folks often go all in – purchasing every niche (and expensive) tool and how-to book they can get their hands on, only to have the items later gather dust in the basement or get shipped off to the local Goodwill.

A class or workshop could have provided them the tools to test the water and see if the hobby might be one that sticks or if it’s best to keep looking. Similarly, FastForward training at community colleges across Virginia offer short-term workforce training, so career changers can get a taste for their new industry, earn an industry-recognized credential, all without having to go back to school for a four-year degree.  

Take advantage of available resources.

Adrianna Culbertson, career coach at Southwest Virginia Community College, shared that, “workforce training offers so much – from classes to tuition assistance – this is a great time to make a change.” And she couldn’t be more right, but you have to take the first step andseek out the resources. Community colleges in Virginia have several funding sources outside of traditional financial aid – funding that can help with the obvious, like tuition, but also funding that can help with transportation, childcare or supplies. In addition, colleges have career coaches on staff to help you through the application process, and once you’re in, they help you navigate along the way.

Switching careers and going back to school can be intimidating, but remember, you don’t have to do it alone.

Lean into your transferrable skills.

Lastly, don’t brush aside all the skills you’ve learned so far. Even if the new field you are hoping to enter seems totally different, there are likely transferrable skills you can use in your new career, and those should be highlighted.

For example, at first thought, a bartender  wanting to become a therapist seems farfetched, but the joke goes that they both get paid to listen to people. When thinking about changing careers, write out a list of learned skills that relate to your new industry. The former bartender should certainly tout their listening and conversational skills when sharing why they would make a good therapist.

Social skills, management, teamwork, organization, problem solving and leadership are all transferrable skills you may have acquired in your previous career.

In certain careers, a FastForward credential is all you need to transition to a new field. For others, it’s a first step toward where you want to go. Career coaches are available to help walk you through the change every step of the way. Reach out to get started.