From clarifying your hedgehog concept to taking the time for re-alignment, here are 13 answers to the question, “Before switching careers during the New Year, what are the most helpful things someone should do first?”
- Adopt a Personal “Hedgehog Concept”
- Update Your Linkedin Profile
- Research Your New Role’s Average Day
- Start Reading
- Know Your Boundaries
- Stay Curious
- Answer Key Questions
- Expect to Be Uncomfortable
- Gain Clarity on Your New Career
- Get Aligned on Your Priorities
- Develop a Growth Mindset
- Cultivate a Strong Network
- Give Yourself Breathing Room
Adopt a Personal “Hedgehog Concept”
Adapted from the “Hedgehog Concept” from Good to Great by Jim Collins, the foundational premise are that everyone has a personal Hedgehog Concept; and when people do work aligned with their Hedgehog Concept, they are highly engaged and wildly successful.
To understand the Hedgehog Concept draw three circles (a Venn diagram) on a piece of paper:
- Passion – what I’m deeply passionate about
- Talent – what are my most powerful gifts and abilities
- Opportunity – of the things I’m both passionate about and truly good at, who finds the most value in this combination?
Your “sweet spot” is the nexus of these three concentric circles. Research indicates only ~50% of employees are in their sweet spot. Don’t leave a bad job or bad manager, go TO your sweet spot (and then never look back!).
Update Your Linkedin Profile
Starting a new year by transitioning to a new career is an exciting and gratifying journey. To set yourself up for success, the one important first step to take should be to update your LinkedIn profile. Making sure it accurately reflects what you can offer, your experience, and your professional aspirations are critical for making a lasting impression on potential employers and recruiters alike.
Take the time to evaluate if all of the sections of your LinkedIn profile are complete and properly portray who you are as a professional in order for recruiters, employers, and even contacts from industry conferences to take notice.
Research Your New Role’s Average Day
Take the time to research what every day will look like in your new career. Find mentors or colleagues to shadow or who will give you an informational interview for the best insights into the daily responsibilities of a new role.
It is almost impossible to fully understand what an average day looks like in a job we’ve never held. Any research we can accomplish before day one in our new job ultimately only empowers our performance and retention in our new position. Sometimes, these gleaned insights are crucial because they help us realize whether or not we feel we are actually an appropriate fit for a role.
When you’re starting a new job—especially if you’re starting a new job in an entirely different industry—it would help to do some recommended reading.
Ask your future boss whether there is any reading material that you could get your hands on to give yourself a better understanding of the subject matter. Explain to your boss that you would like to know as much background information as possible before you walk in on that first day.
That could be anything from a biography of the founder/CEO or an informative book about the industry you’re entering.
If you’re traveling during the holidays, you could read one or more of those books while sitting around and waiting at the airport. It’s the ideal time to catch up on some reading.
Know Your Boundaries
Taking on a new career is both exhilarating and scary. On one hand, you are exploring another avenue that you have always wanted to take on, but on the other hand, you might get cold feet about what is to come.
First things first, know what you’re not willing to budge on. We all have a list of jobs or factors that are non-negotiable when switching careers. There is no shame in having boundaries when it comes to what you are not willing to take on. Once your non-negotiable boundaries have been established, it will make transitioning to a new career more of a seamless process.
Embracing a beginner’s mindset enables you to face the leap openly with a willingness to go backward to move forward. I’ve worn many hats throughout my life: journalist, TV news anchor, advocate, First Lady of California, and author. Now, I don the cap of an entrepreneur, helping people create a “mindstyle” lifestyle.
While I’m still learning the ropes, I often ask myself why I continue to be so ambitious and driven at my age. I realized it was because I’m always curious. While they say curiosity killed the cat, staying curious is vital for continued learning and growth, both personally and professionally. It’s a powerful catalyst for expanding your thinking and igniting the spark that launches you toward a new and, perhaps, more meaningful career trajectory.
Answer Key Questions
Changing careers is a life-changing event. Before making a switch, I recommend creating a list of all core competencies. Think about what you are passionate about; like and dislike about your current career. Understanding your personality is key.
- Do you like working with customers?
- Are you a people person?
- Do you prefer to work in a lab with minimum interaction with others?
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
All are key questions and tips to envision your next career move.
TK Morgan, Founder & Visionary, Tuesday At 1030
Expect to Be Uncomfortable
I have switched careers a few times in my life. The primary way to be successful is to approach the change with the right mental perspective. The best mental perspective is to expect to be uncomfortable.
When switching careers, you are often confronted with switching from an area where you have vast expertise, to a new role where you will lack experience and depth. Follow these three tips to set up your mental perspective for success:
- Be excited that there will be a lot you don’t know, giving you the opportunity to learn
- Ask questions! It is mandatory that you raise your hand and ask others. Don’t fake it!
- Dive in. Take classes, watch YouTube videos, and read forums—there is a ton of knowledge out there. Go get it!
Gain Clarity on Your New Career
When switching careers in the new year, it’s imperative to get clarity on what you want in a new job, a new organization, and how that job will move you forward.
Many job seekers overlook this critical step because they want to get to the outcome—that new job or career.
Take time to journal, conduct informational interviews, and talk to trusted friends and colleagues to gather as much information as possible to help you make your next career move. Once you have clarity about your new career, you will be better at communicating your skills, transferable experiences, and your value in any interview or networking conversation.
Get Aligned on Your Priorities
One of the most important things you can do when switching careers (any time of year) is to list what is most important to you at this stage in your life. Have children? Flexibility in your schedule may be a better benefit than a considerable paycheck. Need great health benefits?
Driving a little further to work might be worth it to you. What works for you during this life chapter is just as important as the actual work you do. Consider this: how can you enjoy what you are doing day in and day out and make it flow nicely with the rest of your life?
Develop a Growth Mindset
This should be the first step on your way to switching careers. With the increased automation and mechanization of most job sectors, a growth mindset is one of the most desirable soft skills these days. It is highly transferable and applies to all industries.
Employees with a growth mindset are curious, flexible, and willing to continuously learn. They seek to better themselves to adapt to new circumstances, environments, and work processes. Their growth mindset makes them unstoppable and motivated to reach higher levels of achievement. These professionals eagerly look for new challenges and don’t miss any opportunity to gain new skills and develop existing ones. What’s noteworthy, they are also happy to accept and follow feedback.
A growth mindset is a precious skill to have. The way we think about ourselves and our abilities can have a significant impact on our performance, at work, and beyond. Keep that in mind while switching careers.
Cultivate a Strong Network
If you are switching careers during the New Year, it is most beneficial to network first—even before applying. Doing this first is important because it could help an application get seen and it can help a candidate find a role that may not be on a job board, all while receiving a recommendation for the role. Professionals should always be networking, even when they are not looking for a new role because a strong network can help make a job search easier.
Give Yourself Breathing Room
If you’re thinking about switching careers during the New Year, the very first thing you should do is give yourself time and space to re-align on what kind of environment you want to work within.
Too often, the pressures of life lead us to make quick decisions for short-term gains, and we lose parts of ourselves that would thrive in our new environments. Here are some great questions to ask yourself before you make the switch:
1. What kind of workplace would I enjoy being a part of each day?
2. Is there work I’ve done in the past that energizes me?
3. Which tasks can I spend hours doing without feeling burnt out?
4. What areas do I excel in?
5. What type of leader do I want to work for?
6. What type of culture is best aligned with my core values?
Once you’ve made peace with those deeper considerations, you’ll know what direction to take for your new career.