Every career hits a snag. This could be because you have plateaued, or because you have finally settled into the role and find that it does not engage you or interest you in the way it did when you were still learning the ropes. This happens at every level and for every person, the only question that remains is what you do next.
Kickstarting your career in a new direction can take many different forms. Technically, finding a new job in the same role or higher can kickstart your career if you were caught in a dead-end job with no room for upwards mobility. Finding a job, however, is not the same as looking for a new direction.
Kickstarting your career in an entirely new direction will require thought, retraining, and networking. It can be daunting, and there is always going to be a risk, but when the alternative is to continue in a career you are not proud of or find fulfilling it is very important that you try.
Use this guide to help you kickstart your career in a new direction.
Diversify Your Income to Increase Your Security Net
The best way to always have the comfort and confidence to change career tracks or to make new, exciting changes in your career is to have more than one source of income. What options you have depends on where you invest either your time or your money. One of the simplest options is to invest your money in the stock market. This can be volatile, of course, and in most cases you will need to keep an eye on your investment in order to make the right changes as time goes on; or of course, hire someone to manage your investments on your behalf.
If you can afford an investment property then this is another great way to get an ongoing income. Rent income is a longstanding, trusted way to bring in an extra amount to your income every month. Even if all that money goes into a separate account to either pay the mortgage of the property, or alternatively for repairs as they come, you will still have a lucrative asset in your portfolio.
From assets, to investments, to selling digital content such as workshops or books, there are many ways in which you can diversify your income and create a safety buffer that will allow you to confidently take control of your career, rather than live in the fear of losing your job. This is the position you will want to be in when you make big moves, or when you decide to take your career into a new business venture of its own.
Work to give yourself options, and you will always be able to make the right choice.
Learn, Try, and Explore
There’s a difference between knowing what you want out of the career path that you are in and knowing what you want to do eventually. If you don’t have a clear understanding of what you want you will need to dedicate some time to learn, try new ideas, and explore your interests. You will need to be able to answer these essential questions:
- What work do I want to do?
- What topics do I find most interesting?
- What are my priorities?
- What does a job need to offer to meet these priorities?
For some, being fulfilled and engaged in an interesting job is more important than making a six-figure salary. For others their main priority will be to make as much money as they possibly can. Knowing your priorities, what you are interested in, and what your strengths are can help you identify great new job opportunities.
Having the experience and skillset to do those jobs, however, is not a guarantee. If you know you want to work in data or business analytics, for example, but don’t have the skillset, then you will need to retrain.
Retrain and Further Your Skillset
Furthering your skillset is a great way to kickstart your career into a new direction. If you want to transition and work in the trade industry there are trade schools and short-term courses that will qualify you to offer more skills and services. If you want to work in a more technical or theoretical role, however (for example, analytics), then your best bet will be to find a suitable degree.
Before you start to look at undergraduate degrees, always have a look at any master’s programs. Many master’s programs are rather open, meaning that you can apply and be accepted so long as you have an undergraduate in a similar or adjacent subject already.
For example, you can earn a master’s in business analytics with any BA or BSc. These days, you don’t even need to necessarily quit your existing job, as many top degrees are now offered 100% online. You will build a baseline knowledge of statistics, programming, and data in the context of business problem-solving and prepare yourself for a variety of business and data analytical roles in a variety of industries.
Network and Find New Opportunities
The best way to get a new job, especially in a new industry, is by networking. Networking is all a matter of who knows who, and (more importantly), who knows what you can do and what you want to do. The good news is that the best way to start building up your network in a new career path is by looking at those on your degree course, and those who have already graduated. These people will know intimately what you have learned in your degree and what you can do. They can recommend you to others, can offer you advice, and can even be a potential future business partner.
You likely won’t get the big-ticket positions when you first start out, though you won’t be starting from scratch like you did the first time you graduated. This is particularly true with analytics positions. Many, many companies need analytics both for their business and to help them leverage their data. The reality is, however, that not many companies have a specific specialist.
As companies grow, they will be interested in hiring someone who can help improve their operations, but they won’t have the budget to pay the top talent in the field. That is where you come in. Find these new positions and make your mark. Not only will you have a lot more control and can also learn a lot while on the job, you will also be able to move up more quickly this way.
Create a Robust Portfolio
To move up and find better, higher-paying positions, you will need to showcase what you can do. The easiest way to do that is to create a portfolio of your work. This applies to every industry. Yes, it is more popular amongst those who work in the creative industries, but just consider how much visualization you need in a business analysis. Creating a short, visual portfolio of your work is a great way to stand out at job interviews and is an easy way to make your professional presence more robust.
There are many online job sites today that make it easy to highlight and create a robust portfolio for yourself, so you can stand out easily from your peers.
Build an Online Brand
Any employee who comes with an audience and is seen as a professional or leading thinker in their field is immediately more valuable. Think of it as personal marketing, except the benefits go beyond just finding a better job. With an audience you have power, as you can use that audience to market your skills privately, you can use it to become a motivational or business coach, and you can even diversify your income by expanding your services or creating passive income streams.
Big companies, start-up companies, and more would all benefit from hiring someone with a large following. It is a great PR move and all the work you put into building an audience is also another way to showcase your skills, knowledge, and experience. It is the ultimate CV or résumé, and is a great way to get recruiters and job opportunities to come your way—rather than you going out of your way to find them.
Know When to Move On
Every job, especially when you start in a new career, reaches its end point. You have learned all that you can, you have gained the biggest benefits, and there isn’t anywhere else for you to go. It is very important that you know when to move on and find the next position, and more importantly how to use those new opportunities to further your goals.
The best time to see a significant pay increase is when you negotiate your new job. Sometimes you can even skip the promotion and just apply for and then earn that new position by going back to the job market.
Know when to move on and always negotiate so that each new job is a step forward, and you will make steady and effective progress throughout your new career.