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10 Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of When Changing Careers

10 Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of When Changing Careers

It sounds amazing to quit a job you don’t like in order to do something you love – but doing it? That’s another matter entirely.

No one wants to spend years of their life tied to a job they hate, a boss they loathe or to work that makes them fall asleep in their carefully wrapped turkey and cheese sandwiches.

The problem is that the prospect of actually changing careers is a scary one.

But the truth is changing your career is a lot less scary than you thought. Here are 10 things you shouldn’t be afraid of when you’re changing careers.

10 Career Change Fears You Can Let Go Of Today

1. Being a beginner

Most career changers worry about starting their career over at the bottom. Once you’ve climbed the ladder, who wants to start all over? If your skills are highly transferable, then chances are you don’t have to start again.

If they don’t transfer well, don’t let it stop you. Being afraid of being a beginner is largely a fear of failure and a lack of confidence. The world is changing fast. In fact, 65% of kids in grade school today will have jobs that haven’t even been invented yet. And while you’re not in grade school, the truth is we’re all learners. People who stay in their comfort zone may wake up and find their comfort zone doesn’t even exist tomorrow.

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So get out there and do what you want to do with your career, because change is coming anyway.

2. What if I make a mistake?

Like any decision, making a mistake can have consequences. If you’re paralyzed about a career decision because you think that the consequences of getting it wrong are just too huge, there are things you can do.

First, do your very best to eliminate the possibility that you are making a mistake. You can talk to friends or get coaching to help you make the right decision, or start with some career quizzes or insightful questions. Before deciding on a career, consider the careers you aren’t choosing, and make peace with leaving those behind. Talk to people in your new field, or even do an internship.

Then, before you make a leap, minimize the impact of a wrong choice. Do you have a back-up plan? Have you been in recent communication with people in your network that could help you find a new job fast? Have you considered your financial situation?

Chances are, you will make a good decision. If you find that you hate your new career immediately, careful planning will help soften the blow. The off chance that you’ll end up in a bad career situation isn’t a reason that you should stay in a situation that you already know is bad.

3. Making less money

This is probably the biggest concern of all. First off, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make less money in a new career, but if that seems likely for you, there are a few things to consider.

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First, you are weighing money against happiness. While your old job makes you unhappy, so does being broke.You need both money and happiness, so only you can decide where the balance is for you.

If you decide to go for it and make your career change, prepare financially, and recognize that you are prioritizing your happiness. Focus on that rather than on the money.

4. Fear of the unknown

Sometimes just not knowing what’s next is enough to make us think twice about doing anything differently. Our comfort zones are called that for a reason.

At this point though, you might realize that you risk a lot by staying put – probably more than you do by doing something different. The only way forward is coping with the fear of what could happen  by realizing you can handle your worst fears.

5. Fear of failure

What happens if you make your mind up to leave your boring-as-dirt job, figure out what you truly love, go after it, and then find that no one wants to hire you because you have no experience in your new career field?

If you haven’t already gotten experience through an internship or volunteer position, you might find that many employers are able to see beyond your specific job functions. They are willing to hire for who you are and what you can learn more than what you already know.

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There are employers who realize that there are key qualities that can’t be taught and if you have them, you might be the right candidate regardless of your experience.

If you’re worried about getting the job and not being able to do the work, work on your skills and confidence so that you can keep doing the work you love!

6. Upsetting other people

Any time you do something different in your life, other people are going to have something to say about it. It’s your life and you have to live with the consequences, good or bad.

Decide how much influence anyone else has a right to have over your decisions. A friend might not have any, while a spouse might have more. In the end though, only you can decide what makes you happy.

7. Fear that it’s too late

Haven’t you heard? Career change is all the rage now. It’s not too late. You can be successful no matter how old you are, and you can figure out finances, health insurance and other practical matters as well.

You don’t have to sacrifice happiness – and years of your life – waiting to get to a place when making a move feels realistic.

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8. Fear that something is wrong with you

Worried that something is wrong with you because you don’t have this figured out already? Don’t be. It’s never too late to change your career, and even famous, successful people didn’t figure it out until later in life. It doesn’t mean anything bad about you that you aren’t finished growing yet. In fact, it’s a good thing!

9. Fear about handling your life

Your life is stressful and sometimes overwhelming as it is, and the thought of adding a career change on top of all that is daunting. Then when you think about what the career change means – new responsibilities, new people, a new environment, a possible change in income. . . it can be too much to handle.

The truth is, you can handle it.  You just need to take each change by itself and not let all of them gang up on you. When you do that, you’ll find you can deal with the changes and enjoy the reason you’re making the move in the first place.

10. Fear about wasting the education and experience you’ve already invested in

Don’t hang onto an education or experience that isn’t serving your goals anymore, no matter how hard you worked for it, or how much you paid for it.

You may not have to “waste” your education or experience at all. But if your new job doesn’t require the work you’ve already put into those things, you can still move forward. Use a skilled resume writer to help you position yourself better and to highlight the skills that do transfer. Also, use your network to land a job through someone you know rather than coming in cold. Finally let your feelings about putting your past education and experience behind you. Otherwise, you’ll stay tethered to work that you don’t want to be doing just because you’ve already invested there.

Bold Action

Fear is the biggest barrier between you and changing your career to something you love. You can figure out all the “what’s” and the “how’s” that may come up, but until you’re willing to take action on your plan and push through your fear, nothing can happen. Now is the time!

Featured photo credit: Lonely Foggy Road via picjumbo.com

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Jessica Sweet

Career Coach

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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