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Last Updated on February 9, 2021

How to Switch Careers and Get Closer to Your Dream Job

How to Switch Careers and Get Closer to Your Dream Job

You’ve been going to “that job” for many years now. You go to your office, do your projects, have lunch with your colleagues, and take your commute home.

How did you get there?

Was this the job you thought you were going to be doing at age 30, 40…50? Is this the work you had wanted to do back in college when the sky was the limit?

It’s not, huh? What happened?

Like many of us, we did the responsible thing by finishing college and getting a job. We’re the people who show up and work. We have the “lunch-pail-roll-up-the-sleeves” work ethic.[1]

But we shouldn’t hate it. We should be loving every minute of it, and knowing that our vocation serves our purpose.

“It’s too late for me. I’ll never have my dream job.” That’s nonsense. We NEED to pursue our dream job.

According to Business Insider:[2]

The average American spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. But 87% of Americans have no passion for their jobs. And nearly 60% say their jobs are making them insomniacs.The average American spends more than 100 hours commuting every year. And a quarter of Americans say work is their No. 1 source of stress.

Of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent aren’t engaged at work — meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs, and thus they tend to do the bare minimum.[3]

Switching careers is hard – but it can be done. Here’s how to get started:

1. Visualize Your Dream Job

You can probably Google a plethora of “dream job meditation” or “dream job visualization” recordings that you can download for free. If that’s too much work, then just do this:

Sit in a chair with your eyes closed, and visualize yourself getting into your car (or on the train, or your carpool) and heading to work.

Where are you headed? Where do you park? What are you wearing? Where do you work? Who’s there waiting for you? What time is your first meeting and who is it with?

Do you get the picture? Think of all the pieces that would get incorporated into your Dream Job and really see them. Write down what you see. Keep this handwritten document with you at all times so you can revisit that visualization.

It’s corny, I know…but it will really help you on the way to finding that vocation you seek.

2. Determine Your Major Strengths and Skill Sets

This activity can help you clearly identify your strengths and skill sets so you know how to represent them on a functional resume.

If you are going to make a change, potential employers want to know what you can do more so than what you have already done.

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Pull out your resume and look at your various positions. You probably have a bullet-point list for each job of your various responsibilities. If that’s the case, start by identifying the skill set you needed to complete each task.

For example:

Let’s say you have been working for ten years as an accountant. You might spend your days working with different clients’ books, preparing reports, and conducting audits. What skills are required to perform those tasks? Self motivation? Business acumen and interest? Organizational skills? Managing deadlines? All of the above?

From the various jobs on your resume, pin point all your skills and then place them into themed groups.

My resume features skills groups such as Management, Supervision, Event Planning, and Budget Management. You can find a guide to ultimate work skills needed for career change here: The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

Finally, come up with 3 to 5 “career highlights” that can go with these skills. These are the various Feathers in Your Cap that you have initiated or facilitated during your employment that would not have existed without you. Now you’re ready to update that resume!

3. Switch to a Functional (Skills-Based) Resume

If you are truly going to make the big leap and actually change careers, then you are going to need a resume that, once again, shows what you can do for them. If you are a teacher looking to get out of the classroom but stay in education, you may be looking for an instructional coordinator or librarian position. Your skills should reflect the position that you want rather than your resume reflecting what you had.

I recommend 3/4 to one full page of your Functional Skills. Each skill group is a heading, and you follow it with bullet points of the tasks that back that up. Here’s a look at one of mine:

Communications, Social Media and Technology

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  • Proficient in MS Word, Excel, Publisher, Power Point, Outlook; PC and Mac hardware
  • Create/update web content for marketing efforts in student affairs and advancement
  • Collaborate with graphic designer, writers, and Public Relations departments on marketing efforts
  • Utilization of social media for recruitment, programming, fundraising, and collaboration
  • Facebook, WACUHO Forum, Twitter, LinkedIn

Once you have your Skills and Competencies in place, then take 1/4 to 1/2 page on Career Highlights. These are those outstanding contributions that you made to one of your previous (or current) employers. Like this:

Redesigned Operations for PCC Foundation

  • Create process for scholarship awarding and implement new Academic Works software
  • Oversee Foundation committee structure and provide training documents for new chairpersons
  • Manage grant awarding process and realignment

Finally, you can list your previous experience in order from most recent or current position to the oldest one. List only the position title, employer, and dates employed. You can follow that with your education, and then list any references at the bottom.

The two previous steps are going to take some time. Don’t expect to be finished in a day. Make sure to share your updated resume with colleagues who support your career change and get their feedback as well.

You can also find tips on Career Change Resumes here: How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

Now it’s time to get out there and look!

4. Work Your Personal Network

Through your visualization work, you hopefully came up with some places and experiences that feel right for you. So it’s time now to step up and find those opportunities.

Start with your personal network. This would include current Vital Work Friends, colleagues in other industries, and your buddies. Do any of them work in a desired industry of yours? What about their other friends? And those friends’ friends? Make a list of possible connections and invite them to coffee.

A colleague of mine just recently embarked on a “30 Coffees in 30 Days” game plan as a strategy for finding a new job. Working your personal network for contacts can open doors and get you moving in the right direction.

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These tips can help improve your networking skills: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

5. Let Your Family Know What You’re Doing and Inform Your References

You’ll get additional support from your family and your references, especially previous supervisors. You may even want to talk to previous supervisors while you are working your personal network.

Letting them know that you are wanting to make a change and getting their insight can also help you get some direction. These folks once aided in your professional development and may even have been mentors to you. They know your skills and abilities as well as anyone, so make sure to use them as resources, too.

And obviously, you are notifying your references (and providing an updated resume) about any job applications and pending interviews.

The Bottom Line

Career change is scary. But it can also be incredibly rewarding when you land the gig that has just been waiting for you. And it IS out there. Make the decision and the time…do the work…and reap the benefits.

You’ve got this.

More Articles About Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] PETER KESERIC, 2016
[2] Busiess Insider: 17 seriously disturbing facts about your job
[3] CBS News, 2017

More by this author

Kris McPeak

Educator, Author, Career Change and Work/Life Balance Guru

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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress

Why You Can (And You Should) Quit Your Job Because of Stress

Does your job give you chronic stress? Chronic stress is different than regular stress because it causes your brain to consistently release adrenaline and cortisol hormones.[1] In turn, your body reacts to the constant strain: you feel fatigued all the time, have frequent headaches, can’t concentrate, and you get sick a lot more than you used to before you started working here. Those are just a few of the symptoms of chronic stress.

While you’re working a job that causes chronic stress, the solution seems complex. The common advice is for you to use all sorts of tools and strategies — but now you’re discovering the simplest, least stressful solution: quit.

But you also wonder, “I quit my job because of stress, is it bad?”

Not at all! Reading further, you’ll find out exactly why quitting your job is the smart thing to do. Our culture is chained to the idea of persisting for consistency’s sake, but there’s a reason why Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

To be consistent in a stressful situation such as yours is to work harder, not smarter. And don’t be fooled by the word “quit” — this is about empowerment.

Keep going to find out why you should quit your job and leave chronic stress behind.

1. Your Toxic Job Is Making You Sick

Chronic stress and consistently adverse work conditions will affect your health. Think back over the course of the last 6 months or so. How has your health been?

You need to think about the long-term. Even if you haven’t been sick lately, people oftentimes make the mistake of running themselves down over an extended period of time. When you do this, your immune system flatlines and you get hit hard.

Poor health is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t working. There are some specific things to look for when it comes to stress-related health problems. According to CompTIA, the following symptoms are telltale signs your job stress is negatively affecting your health:[2]

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  • You need to sleep far more than normal, or you suffer from insomnia.
  • You’ve experienced significant weight loss or weight gain.
  • You lack energy and motivation, and you don’t feel like socializing very often.
  • You seem to always be coming down with a cold, and when you get a cold or any other illness, it takes longer than it should to recover.
  • Your job encroaches on your life to the extent that you don’t have time or motivation to exercise.

No job is worth losing your health over, and if you haven’t experienced a major breakdown yet, this is the perfect chance to break away.

Wait until your health breaks down completely, and you won’t be able to search for another job, or at least it will be much harder.

Unsure if your job maybe slowly taking down other aspects of your life? Take Lifehack’s Life Assessment to find out. It’s a free assessment that can help analyze your life aspects and give you a custom report of your life’s overview. Take the free assessment here.

2. Multitasking Is a Recipe for Failure

Is there nothing insanely stressful about your job yet you are still insanely stressed? Chances are you’re juggling a full-time job and another (or more than just another) full-time obligation.

For example, if you’re a nontraditional student who went back to school because your job prospects were slim — yet you still have to work while you’re in school — you’re creating stress.

You need to quit something. About 61 percent of multitaskers who seek counseling have anxiety, and 49 percent are depressed.[3]

Counseling helps, but it’s not a cure for multitasking. Professor Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine says that people who multitask are more susceptible to stress, neuroticism, and impulsivity.

According to Mark, it takes your brain about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to regain focus after you switch tasks. This drains your energy reserves, and if you continue, you can enter a state of chronic stress.[4]

People who have two or three major priorities weighing on them all the time are caught in a multitasking trap. Determine your priorities and evaluate your job. If your job is not something you’re passionate about and it’s not at the top of your priority list, drop it.

3. Employers That Don’t Help Relieve Stress Aren’t Doing Their Job

The truth is employment shouldn’t be a one-sided relationship.

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You pour your heart into your job, you take pride in your work, and you truly care about the outcome. An employer who doesn’t encourage you to take breaks and doesn’t provide opportunities for stress-relief is an employer who doesn’t deserve to have you around.

You offer something many fantastic employers would bend over backwards to have: a work ethic and a high level of commitment. Good employers know it’s their responsibility not to run people into the ground. They know they must pay attention to how much you work as well as how stressed you are.

At the core, you’re dealing with a culture of stress. A study of organizational culture showed that a hierarchical, bureaucratic culture, in which the organization showed little care for employee well-being, created a state of low morale.[5]

An organization’s negative, stress-based culture leads to poor performance, high turnover, and a low level of engagement.

The bottom line is that when you’re dealing with a culture of stress, you’re completely justified in being uncommitted.

A company’s culture is its identity. Don’t commit to a culture — therefore an identity — that is tearing itself down instead of building itself up.

4. There Are Great Jobs You’ll Love

A lot of times, when someone who is overly stressed doesn’t quit and find a new job, it’s because they feel stuck. They aren’t exercising free will, they aren’t choosing to recognize the agency and autonomy that allows them to go where they please when they please.

Philosopher Mitch Horowitz talks about this in his new book, The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality. Although there are some circumstances you can’t control, within your current set of circumstances you can select a life you prefer.

To put this in the employment context, you are able to envision the type of job you want and the type of company you’d like to work for. You’re not working somewhere else because you haven’t selected to do so.

Select a different job and take the steps to get there. You have the ability to concentrate all your efforts in a new direction.

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Yes, there are practical considerations — including the fact that you need to pay the bills. There are also practical solutions. Here are some of them:

  • List your resources. Do you have a car that’s in decent condition? Are you able-bodied? Do you have an internet connection at home or at least one you can access every day?
  • Search for part-time gigs you can work when you’re able, such as driving for a ride-share company or any of the other gig economy work you have the resources to do.
  • List your bills and calculate how much income you’ll need to pay them while you’re looking for a different full-time job.
  • Work your part-time gig enough to pay the bills.
  • Spend the rest of your time looking for the full-time position you really want.

A lot of people try to look for a different full-time job while still working their current job, but that won’t give you as much time as the part-time gig strategy.

When you’re looking for something new, don’t just select anything that comes along. You’re selecting a different path from among the nearly infinite paths you could select. To select the right path, find the answer to the most important question.

Here’s the important question to ask yourself:

What do I love to do?

Once you answer that question, all other actions must center on getting to a place where you can do nothing but what you love to do.

5. You Are the Driving Force Behind Your Own Success

Right now, you’re working for an employer who is placing responsibility on you and you’re not in control. The responsibilities and tasks in front of you are selected by other people.

Why do you have all these responsibilities and tasks to begin with? Because you have the skill set necessary to do them, as well as a great many other things.

In terms of types of things you could do, your work represents a relatively small percentage. The corporate division of labor is such that most people only take care of one or two types of things, with a bunch of related subtasks. The rest of your intellectual and physical ability goes untouched.

This isn’t to say you don’t have a lot to do — you’re probably overloaded with tasks, you’re bogged down in minutia. But you know you’re capable of other things.

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In general, you’re capable of a higher level of thinking. The reason why you haven’t started your own business or struck out on a freelance career is you haven’t selected that type of route yet.

Now is the time to own the full capacity of your abilities. The stress at your current job isn’t worth it when you can do the thing you love so much better.

Once you seize onto what you love to do and find a way to make it your life, stress becomes positive. It’s no longer chronic, harmful stress because you view it differently.

Psychologist Kelly McGonigal discusses how, in a massive study, people who viewed stress as a positive thing didn’t have harmful physical reactions to it and actually lived longer than those who viewed it negatively [6].

Once you’re doing what you love, the pressure of getting things done is akin o the increase of heart rate from exercising. Since you are focused on the thing you love — much like a runner is focused on the act of running until completion — you cope with stress by continuing with your momentum.

You look at problems as possibilities. That’s how you succeed.

Stress Is Your Spark

It’s true that a toxic job full of chronic stress can make you sick, and a lifestyle that involves multitasking and lack of focus will contribute to a lack of well-being.

At the same time, it’s true that you wouldn’t have come to this realization and an important move in your life if it weren’t for stress.

A level of stress you can’t handle is your catalyst to do something new. You’re going to select the path you want and use your capabilities to actualize your full potential.

In the end, the stress was a good thing. It made you aware of your threshold and now you know it’s time to move on.

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Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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