As the Director of Recruiting at the 280 Group, and as a Career Coach, I’m often asked the question, “How do I get my dream job?”
Surprisingly the dream job doesn’t usually take place on the beach, but does entail changing industries or a profession.
We start off building our careers in a certain direction and can then wake up one day and realize we’re not really doing something that we’re passionate about. We may be great at it, but something inside of us wants more. We want our jobs to resonate with our core values.
The most common conversations I am having are with candidates wanting to transition from high-tech to healthcare. Not only is healthcare a growth market, but it can resonate with a value of wanting to improve lives. One client of mine spent months visiting a family member in the hospital who was battling a life-threatening disease. Having a background in the software industry, she was surprised to see how software was helping the nurses with patient care and where improvements could still be made. She came away from that experience wanting to change her focus from networking to healthcare. She wanted to work on a product that she felt mattered. Where does she start? Here are some suggestions that I offer when this question comes up. Try to apply them to your situation.
What are the requirements for the new job?
Go on to LinkedIn and look at job descriptions for your dream job. Maybe you’ve been doing Product Marketing for Big Data and now you want to do Product Marketing for Healthcare. The job functions are most likely the same. Look at the requirements and see what is different. Does it require a degree that you don’t have? You may need to go back to school. Most likely they want at least three years of experience with their target audience. So how do you get that?
Hang out at Industry Events
If there is a MeetUp group or an industry association near you that is connected with your new focus, start going to the meetings to network. Or better yet, volunteer to help run the events or get on the Board of Directors for the organization. Join associations related to the new industry or position and get to know the other members there. Start building your brand around the new focus. So how do you do that?
Build your thought Leadership
Write articles for LinkedIn and Industry Associations that show your thought leadership in the new field. If you’re still ramping up, comment on articles written by other people. Repost and tweet your thoughts on their content. One way to write an article when you don’t have the knowledge is to interview experts in an area on a topic that you think is relevant and formulate it into a thought leadership piece; which brings me to my next suggestion.
Ask for Informational Interviews
One of the best ways to figure out how to do something is to ask someone who has already done it. Who has your dream job now? How did they get there? People are flattered when you ask for an informational interview. It’s great if you have someone who can introduce you, but even if you don’t, send an email through LinkedIn and let them know that you’re thinking about a career in their field. You might say that you’re impressed with their background and would appreciate 15 minutes to ask them about what they do and how they got there. It’s a great way to start building your network in the new field. Ask them for suggestions on what you can do or who you should talk to. You might even ask if you could try your hand at what they do. Here’s how.
Do pro-bono work to get experience
Volunteer to do some free work for people you meet in the industry. Depending on your talent, maybe you can help with research, or a business plan, or writing a case study. It’s hard to do an internship when you’re working a full-time job, but that’s always a great way to get a good reference to call upon.
Update your LinkedIn Profile
Make sure your LinkedIn profile lets recruiters know that you’re interested in a new role. If your profile says that you’re in the Telecommunications industry and you want to be in Healthcare, change your industry setting. If your title says Business Development and you want to be a Product Manager change your profile to highlight your knowledge of Product Management. Try something like Delighting Clients with Great Products. Use the Summary section in your profile to talk about your reason for the shift.
Making a career change takes time and planning. It may require an investment in education or certifications. Create an action plan for what you need to do for the next two years to achieve your goal. Consider working with a mentor or getting a career coach. It helps to have someone with you along the journey.
About the Author
Mira Wooten is the Director of Recruiting at the 280 Group, a Product Management and Product Marketing company that provides consulting, contractors, training, certification, books and templates, and contingent recruiting services. Mira has over 10 years working with clients to identify the perfect team fit for their needs. She is also the owner of Clarity Coaching Works, a professional coaching company. Follow Mira at @mirawooten.