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How to transition into a new career

As a Recruiter, the most common inbox question I receive to this day is still "how do I transition into XYZ." It's a pain point for a lot of tenured professionals when happiness is no longer synonymous to their current career path. I think a lot of the teachers burned out, the healthcare worker crying in their car before their shift, and the server who no longer wants to work in restaurants. I write this post thinking of them because career change feels like a big mountain to climb. But I've got the rope and a map! Let's get to work.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If this is not obvious, you should know what you're aspiring for. Let go of titles for a minute and just start writing all the things you want to do, how you want to feel, what type of work is your calling. Let's say you want to work with people and it feels like Human Resources. Would it be in benefits? Compensation? Talent Management? People Analytics? People Systems? Let's say you say Recruiting. Ok great - Full cycle recruitment? Volume? Target? Technical? What about Sourcing? Contingent Staffing? Recruitment Marketing? Career Coaching? Hint: it's ok to have more than one aspiration, as long as they're heading towards the same mountain.

Learn the technical skills/knowledge for what you are aspiring to

I read a post on LinkedIn that Recruiting is just matching people to jobs and it can't be that hard. LOL gosh I wish it was that easy.

Not every organization has the resources to train early career/limited experienced candidates. But showing up with some knowledge in addition to other work experience sure darn helps!

Take on an internship, volunteer, help a family or friend with their business. Go back to school. Take some online classes. Sign up for Google alerts in your emails. Listen to podcasts. Watch a ton of YouTube videos. Sure, get on TikTok. Do what you can, this is a non-negotiable.

If you're an aspiring Recruiter, look up hiring laws within your state (HI/CA HR folks know what I mean). Brush up on industry knowledge, trends, language, certifications etc. If I say EEOC or OFCCP and you're still giving me quizzical looks, go back and knowledge up. In an age where information is free and in abundance, you have no excuse not to improve here.

Change your professional circle

If you're not on LinkedIn, get on there. Start connecting, listening, reading, learning, consuming and surrounding yourself with the successful people in the area of aspiration you want to be in. This can be both in real and/or digital life. Seek out a mentor, reach out to friends, hire a professional. You are the sum of the people around you. Make sure they are helping you lean into your next adventure.

Pivot within your company or industry

My breakout into recruiting was within the same company. I shadowed and leaned in on different business units at my last company so relationships and knowledge was already there when positions opened up. Internal mobility is a great way to change your career path while still maintaining a "stable" career path (if you're like me and love your organization). But don't just lean in, be intentional. Join groups, volunteer for projects, show up to webinars and town halls. The more areas you explore, the deeper your inspiration and aspirations become.

Take a hit to win the game Sometimes, you have to make a drastic step back to leap forward. I've never come across anyone who made a career transition ever regret stepping back in order to get on the right path. They do quickly add that they regret waiting too long and most will say, the change was hard and messy but the reward and outcome absolutely worth it.

Now I'm not saying throw your bills away and take on a free internship (these should not even be a thing). Make reasonable changes without putting yourself and your family in a tough spot.

Consider a smaller organization or startup

I've met a lot of great professionals in my time as a recruiter and the ones who came from startups and smaller organizations were Jack of all trades. They wore so many hats that their level of knowledge in HR vs just Talent Acquisition (for example) was much wider and deeper. Consider smaller companies that could use the experience you already have and consider it as an externship to your new career path. If you're in sales and want to try Recruiting, I highly recommend a recruiting agency. Still very much sales but a great jump start into recruiting if you don't have actual "recruiting" experience.

Set tangible milestones

While you're gaining all this knowledge and experience into your toolbox, make sure you're documenting your milestones. When you get certified, you complete a course, you built a website, learned a programming language or published an article. Celebrate, document and repeat. This practice helps you with your narrative. "I learned how to code and today I run my own website for my blog" would be a badass answer to an interview question right?

Change your narrative and mindset

This is the last most important practice for your journey. Repeat after me:

I am capable of achieving my goals and becoming who I am meant to be. Repeat that a few times while visualizing who you are aspiring to be. Do this daily, speak it into existence. Mentally and visually speak your goals into the universe. Your mindset absolutely sets you up for the path that you are meant to be.

I am an example of this practice. I've always wanted to write and help people. Here I am, writing to you, encouraging you and telling you that it's possible. I have ten+ years of recruiting experience in the toolbox to tell you that it is absolutely possible.

Ok, hope this was helpful! Let's go climb that mountain! Here's a favorite quote from Brene' Brown to seal this topic for us: "You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both." I hope you choose courage which means you choose yourself.

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