These days, it’s not uncommon to switch careers at least once in a lifetime. According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of U.S. adults have switched careers and more than half of this group say they have made a switch more than once. Financial professionals who aren’t happy in their current fields have plenty of options for switching careers, as long as they’re willing to have patience and put in some hard work. Here are five steps you should take to make your career transition a smooth one.
1. Develop a Plan
Making a jump into another career field likely means taking a pay cut so make sure you have a sound financial plan in place before you make a move. Do you have an emergency fund and a budget? Can you cut expenses now so your quality of life doesn’t suffer later? Start saving now to accumulate an emergency fund of at least six to twelve months of expenses. Having that safety net will reduce stress during the transition.
Making a change could also mean paying for additional training or licenses. Your career transition may require taking classes, pursuing a credential such as the CFP, or studying and sitting for certain securities exams such as the Series 7. These all take time and money, so factor those into your plan.
2. Make Connections
Chances are if you’re considering a career change it’s because you know someone in that field that influenced you to pursue it. Talk to that person about how they got started and join networking groups to connect with other professionals in the field.
Your connections may be able to offer additional insight on what it takes to get hired, help introduce you to the right people, or let you know about upcoming opportunities.
3. Don’t Sell Yourself Short
You may have to accept a pay cut to change your career, but that doesn’t mean you should accept an entry-level salary. As an experienced professional, you bring skills and connections that a brand new college graduate just won’t have. Use these to your advantage to negotiate a higher starting salary.
Do research on typical salaries or income levels for your target job in your geographical area but don’t make a decision based on money alone. Certain fields can be very alluring because of the salary or other benefits they offer, but money doesn’t buy happiness. You could end up hating your job and spending more on stress-related expenses such as massages or after-work drinks.
4. Spruce Up That Resume
This is a great time to start thinking about the skills that translate from your old job to your new career. Research the job description for your goal career and brainstorm ways to demonstrate how your skills translate. Make sure your resume focuses less on titles and daily activities and more on results. For experienced professionals, demonstrating results is more important than GPA or coursework.
Many careers in finance require a working knowledge of accounting and soft skills such as the ability to communicate well and good interpersonal skills. Did you work with Excel in your old career or excel at keeping clients happy? These are all skills that will follow you to a new job.
5. Take Your Time
A successful career switch won’t happen overnight and could take months to accomplish. Don’t get discouraged if your efforts don’t immediately pay off or if people around you are not as supportive as you’d like them to be. Some people may be less than enthusiastic about your chances, but that shouldn’t hinder you from pursuing a passion.
Is a successful career change possible? Yes, if you’re willing to put in the work and use your previous knowledge and experience to give you a boost in your new career.