What’s the easiest way to make a career change? originally appeared on Quora: the place to acquire and share knowledge, enabling people to learn from others and better understand the world.
During my career, I have been an architect, a professor, an executive with a team of over 4,000 people, and a startup founder. For me, knowing when to make a career pivot is a simple equation. Do I feel excited to jump out of bed in the morning or not? If a higher percentage of days lead to dissatisfaction and there’s a consistent pattern, that’s a sign that it’s time to explore what else is out there.
Here are my top tips for making a career move that lands you in a more fulfilling job:
1. Take a beat and diagnose the problems. It’s often much easier for us to identify what we’re running from than it is to identify where we want to go—and that’s perfectly fine. First and foremost, determine if it’s the context or if it’s the tasks that are problematic. For example, you don’t like the company itself, your manager, the industry, instead you don’t like being a lawyer? Maybe you’re drained all the time — you’re introverted and asked to do extroverted activities, or vice versa. Understand these triggers and your work style (here is a quiz this can be helpful in understanding what energizes you and what is more difficult for you).
2. Think about what you want to run towards. What does a great day at work look like? When you had complete control over your time, what activities did you turn to? Did you make ceramics? Did you learn to code? What were those things and what would you be excited to connect with for a living? Take steps to explore these options by setting up informational interviews or participating in self-directed projects to make sure it’s really a path you want to take.
3. Address any gaps between where you are and where you want to go. Typically, these gaps can be identified as knowledge (facts and information), skills (learned abilities) and experience (proof of your abilities). Most of these gaps can be filled in creative ways, such as reading books and related newsletters, taking classes, volunteering, or creating a project for your portfolio. Don’t wait for a job offer from a company that is willing to train you in everything you need to know, because that job offer won’t come. You must demonstrate that you have taken proactive measures to address these gaps.
4. Tailor your resume and LinkedIn for the job you want. Now that you’ve started filling in some of the potential gaps, start building your resume by combining your new and existing skills to align with your chosen career path. Think about how you can tailor a track record in a way that matches what a recruiter is looking for. Employers won’t assume your skills are transferable – you need to repackage yourself! Look at job descriptions to identify certain keywords and make sure they appear in the top half of your resume. My company Teal does a free job tracking that identifies the keywords in a job description for you.
5. Create a plan. The process of managing a career change is entirely up to you. Very rarely does an outside force come along to make it happen. Set achievable, time-bound goals for your job search and all the steps leading up to it. Block out time every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Here is a useful template for planning your career change. Always inch by inch, you’ll build momentum for your career change and start seeing the results you’re looking for.