Building Bridges To Your New Career

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
Professional Resume Services

As an entry-level professional this year, you face a far more complex career landscape than any prior generation. Do you ever worry about your current career choice and that you’ll change your mind about the career path you’ve chosen?

The average career life-span is a half-century and over that time, you are likely to change jobs every four years. Over the course of fifty working years, this adds up to twelve or more job changes

But what will you do if you wake up one day after twenty years in accounting and decide it’s  time to make your living playing the ukulele? Career changes aren’t always this drastic, but they do happen: often three or more times over the course of that fiifty-year career. They can happen in the midst of your first job hunt or twenty years down the road, and it doesn’t always happen by choice.

Career Changes Are Tougher Than Job Changes
Sticking with the same job and switching employers is tough enough, but it pales in comparison to changing careers. It is something that almost certainly will happen in your worklife, but with knowledge and planning, you can avoid the major economic dislocation that usually accompanies changing careers. While I don’t recommend making a career change during a recession, we are a

 For more advice for emerging professionals,
check out “Knock Em Dead Secrets & Strategies
 For First Time Job Seekers” available on Amazon

huge economy and there are always plenty of jobs out there, if you are prepared to hone your career management skills alongside your other professional skills.

A career change is a much more intimidating affair than a job change within your chosen profession, because of the extensive financial and emotional consequences. If you know that career change is almost certain to happen in your life, you can use this awareness now, at the beginning of your career, to make the inevitable a manageable event. If and when you change careers, you are changing the way you make your living, so the competition is fiercer than you have ever faced: you will be up against a new crop fresh young grads who are probably cheaper, or candidates who already have experience in that profession. So whenever possible, you’ll want to strategize career changes to happen during boom economies when demand outstrips manpower availability.

Consider Your Options
As you evaluate career change options, you’ll want to consider the health of the profession you want to pursue and the industry in which you will pursue it. Then you can really start to put your plan into motion by deciding on a target job title and deconstructing it in order to get a grip on who and what employers look for when they hire someone to do this job. (This process, called Target Job Deconstruction, is discussed in Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.) Once you have identifed the skills and credentials required for success in a new target career, you need to acquire those skills and these considerations all take time.  As Chris Perry, Gen Y personal branding expert and founder of, echoes this advice: “You need to identify any education/training credentials and consider options for securing them beforeyou make your move.” and then adds wisely: “When you initiate the change, make sure anything you have done to brand yourself online and offline is adapted to support your new career direction.”

Overcoming Obstacles to Career Change
I recently helped a guy having problems with a mid-career shift. In his late thirties, thirteen unhappy years in sales/marketing had led to career reappraisal and a subsequent return to university to gain a Finance MBA. His job search was bogged down and he diagnosed the problem as, “no job offers because of my inability to answer specific questions about why the career change.” Getting a new career moving takes more than a few snappy answers to interview questions. In reality, his problems stemmed from a combination of factors.
It wasn’t that he hadn’t yet latched onto the most convincing arguments to justify his career shift. The more important causes for rejection of his candidacy stemmed from:

  1. His lack of understanding,  and demonstrating that he understood the deliverables of the target job and its role within the department in which he’d work.
  2. His lack of understanding of how the new profession and industry worked, why it functioned the way it did, the slang that profession developed as its own.
  3. His lack of understanding of the problems that lay at the heart of the new target job in the new career, and how they should be anticipated and prevented whenever possible, and solved with minimum fuss when they do.
  4. His lack of understanding of why his previous professional experience was actually a distinct benefit to the new employer
To make such a dramatic career change, this guy needed to develop a deep understanding of this new job where he was going to spend the majority of his waking hours; he had to learn where there was connectivity between his old career and the new one, and where there was no connectivity, he had to show a deep understanding of the deliverables of the job and the problems he would be anticipating, preventing when he could, and solving when prevention was not possible.

Building Bridges & Then Crosssing Them
With this approach, he could build bridges of connectivity between his old job and this new one, bridges that would enable the employer to say, “Sure, you can walk on over.” So go ahead and bust out the old ukulele; just don’t plan on making a living with it until you’ve done your homework and determined how to make the transition.   For more advice on taking control of your professional destiny check out Knock Em Dead – Secrets & Strategies For First-Time Job Seekers.

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Martin Yate
Copyright 2013
All rights reserved

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