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The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

Career changes are tough. As adults, there are many factors that impact our decisions – family, finances, life partner, or the labor market. As you analyze and plan, it’s easy to fall victim to your own preconceived notions and jaded assumptions.

You may even talk yourself out of the change and stay where you are as you get stuck in your loop of thoughts and worries. Instead, I urge you to understand the emotions attached to change and apply this work skills list to help manage the emotions that come with your next career transition.

Get ready to peel back the layers, do some inner work, and exercise your mental tenacity to embrace your desired career change.

Recognize the Emotions of Change

While individual reactions to change will vary, there are some common emotions that you’ll likely experience as you embark on a career change.[1]

1. Fear of the Unknown

Humans are creatures of habit, and like feeling safe and comfortable. Uncertain thoughts and emotions can flood our minds as we embrace change:

  • What if I fail?
  • I’ll need to go back to school.
  • It’s too late to make a change now.

2. Frustration and Anxiety

The thought of changing careers may have you stuck in worryville and it’s common for self-doubt to creep into your mind.

The mere thought of how a career change may impact your life can bring about behaviours that stall you from taking tiny steps toward any changes:

  • I can’t take a pay cut.
  • My family depends on me.
  • I’ll need to start from scratch.
  • I’ve worked hard for my promotions, benefits and pension.

3. Know Your Emotional Triggers

While we desire changes in our lives, we’re sometimes met with resistance within ourselves.[2] It will take time to address and overcome the stories and assumptions that we’ve told ourselves since our experiences have likely clouded our perceptions and judgements.

The good news? This is a great opportunity to shift your mindset and challenge your own beliefs. As you embrace your next career change, tiny or big, track your thought patterns:

  • What are you telling yourself and why? During uncertain times our inner critic and negative thoughts can easily enter our brain. You have a chance to replace your self-doubt with new ones, or at least learn to tame them.
  • Check your assumptions. Challenge preconceived notions about yourself. Are they really true and how can you confirm them?
  • Question preconceived notions of what others are thinking about you. What’s the importance of their thoughts? Why does it matter to you so much? Are you seeking their approval?

Looking inward and being honest with yourself can help you move forward with career changes that you desire.

Work Skills to Change Careers and Thrive at Your Next Job

In my 15 plus year working career, I’ve experienced four major career changes so far. And each time, I learn something new that I wish I would have known to make each career transition a little easier.

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1. Fill up on Patience

Our world of work is changing so fast. You’ll need to be able to naturally go with the ebbs and flows of your career. Equip yourself with these skills to embrace your next opportunity and challenge:

Sleep.[3] Recharging your brain sufficiently with at least 7 hours of sleep can help you to manage emotional challenges and you’ll be less likely to overreact when you get annoyed or frustrated. Sleep needs to be your first priority, not an afterthought, so that you can optimize your health and tackle your goals.[4]

Slow down. We sometimes have a tendency to rush through our day without much thought. When you feel rushed or impatient, take mindful breaths and pause. Be deliberate about your next action.

2. Grow with Rejection by Leveraging Your Strengths

You’ll likely talk about your career change with those close to you, and eventually with others as you gather more information to help you make informed decisions about the changes you want to make.

While some will be supportive, you’ll be faced with some naysayers who will dismiss your ideas or worse – not respond. This may add to your self-doubt.

Have courage. This is the best time to focus on your strengths and what’s important to you.

Give yourself time. When feelings become uncomfortable, it’s easy to ignore them and rush into something else, but they will always be there until you address those emotions. Pause and reflect on what happened. You’ll likely find a few ‘ah-ha’ moments to help you become more resilient.

Exercise compassion. You may feel angry, in denial, shame, loneliness or embarrassment.[5] However, this is the best time to be kind to yourself and reset. Do something you enjoy, like going for a run or getting lost in a bookstore. Even helping a loved one during this time can help you be grateful for what you do have and see a different perspective.

3. Exercise Self-Approval and Notice Your Confidence Level

You, and only you, need to live with your career choices and ultimately your life choices.

As human beings, we want to feel connected, be accepted by others, and belong to a group. So it’s natural for us to want to seek approval from others about our decisions.

Your professional presence can easily be observed by others. Reflect on your confidence level:

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Are you constantly seeking praise from your manager? Or is there a possibility that you’ve been overconfident and dismissed someone’s feedback or critique of your work?

There’s a fine line between being confident, assertive, aggressive, or arrogant. Note how these behaviors have shown up and impacted your career.

4. Be Open to Experiment

Changing careers is a time of discovery. As adults, it’s easy to make snap assumptions based on our experiences. Take a beginners mindset to learning about the changes you want to make. This will help you be more open to trial and error during the process.

Step away from scrolling the Internet and actually talk to people working in the industry that you’re interested in through informational interviews. Some information may peak your interest to speak to more people or you may have gained insights that will make you shift in an entirely different direction. The information you gather will help you make informed and confident decisions about your next move.

5. Listen Deeply and Hone Your Observation Skills

This includes observations about yourself and your environment.

Pay attention to what you’re doing to gain self-awareness and take time to be attuned to your surroundings. This includes noticing your workplace culture, your colleagues work styles, your team dynamics, and various communication channels used.

Learn more about observation skills in this article:

How Observational Learning Can Have a Huge Impact on Productivity

6. Think Critically, Be a Self-Starter, and Take Initiative

“The only thing that is constant is change” — Heraclitus

Be adaptable and open to learn new skills.

Jobs are evolving, and we need to be open to learn creative ways to get work done. The more you learn the more informed you’ll be. You can then create new ideas or try different combinations to achieve results.

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With industries changing and businesses needing to adapt to thrive in competitive markets, people need to show and articulate their value and contributions to support business needs.

This may mean having the foresight in your area of expertise to help companies make informed decisions. For example, the ability to discern large amounts of information using research skills and presenting them to key influencers in plain language.

All of these skills sets will help you achieve your ultimate goals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask questions to clarify. This will show that you’re listening and paying attention to your work.

To keep your skills fresh and your brain sharp, keep learning:

15 Ways to Cultivate Lifelong Learning for a Sharper Brain

7. Ability to Influence Without Authority

Whether you report to one person, work in a matrix organization or as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to interact with others. You’ll need to be able to negotiate, convince and sometimes sell others’ on why your services, products, or recommendations would be of benefit.

You won’t always be in a position of power. So having the ability to influence people is a key work skill to have.

The next time you go out to dinner with friends or family test out your abilities to influence. Try to convince everyone to choose the restaurant you prefer. What happens?

Take a look at this article and improve your communication skills:

How to Be Influential and Gain Respect at Work

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8. Build Quality Relationships and Manage Office Politics

As you transition to a new career and begin working in a new role, having and continuing to build quality relationships is essential to support all aspects of your career growth and productivity.

Knowing when and how to have difficult conversations in a productive manner is an essential skill to achieve both personal and professional goals. Conflict between people are inevitable so the ability to resolve emotional responses is a key life skill to have.

These conflict management skills will be useful for you:

Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work

Summing It Up

This ultimate work skills list will help you to change careers and thrive in your next role.

It’s important to recognize your emotions associated with change. Otherwise, we’ll continue to carry forward the same mindset to our next career and it will rear its ugliness again if left uncoached.

Always keep the ultimate work skills list in your pocket:

  • Build your patience muscle
  • Manage and grow with each rejection
  • Exercise self-approval and notice your confidence level
  • Listen deeply and hone your observation skills
  • Be open to experiment
  • Think critically, be a self-starter, and take initiative
  • Ability to influence without authority
  • Build quality relationships and manage office politics

Committing yourself to these work skills will help you ease the jitters of your career change and continue to build the career skills necessary in any professional environment in our changing world of work.

What career changes are you working on, tiny or big? Notice your emotions and thoughts as you address this change. From the work skills list, choose one that resonates with you the most and apply one aspect of that skill to your career change and your new career. What do you notice?

There’s no right or wrong way to approach your career change. Do what feels natural to you. Be creative and open to experiment.

More Resources About Essential Work Skills

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] University of Exeter: The Change Curve
[2] Steven Pressfield’s book: Do the Work: Overcoming Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way
[3] Febritius and Hagermann’s Book: The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier
[4] National Sleep Foundation: How Lack of Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance and Focus
[5] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Emotional Responses to Interpersonal Rejection

More by this author

Ami Au-Yeung

Workplace Strategist | Career Coach | Workshop Facilitator | Writer | Speaker | Past Business Professor

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers

13 Critical Things to Consider Before Switching Careers

Do you have a path not taken? Maybe you had big career dreams when you were younger, but somehow they didn’t materialize.

Maybe you took your first job, thinking it would be a stepping stone to a better job. It seemed like a good idea at the time, you recall, except the better job never came along. Or perhaps, saddled with student loans, you took a job that helped you pay them off. You paid them all right, but now you feel stuck in a career you don’t really like.

The average person spends 90,000 hours in their lifetime at work[1]. That’s too much time to be doing anything you don’t love!

Is it time to think about switching careers? Here are 13 things to do when making the big leap.

Diagnose Your Current Work Situation

Before switching careers, it’s important to figure out why you’re currently unhappy so you don’t step into another situation that isn’t right for you. Start with these considerations before making any big decisions.

1. What Are You Passionate About?

It’s somewhat shocking, but research shows 87 percent of workers have no passion for their jobs[2]. Passion can be measured many ways, and one person’s passion is another’s poison. Still, if you believe in your company’s core mission, it really helps.

How can you find your passion? You may have to switch careers. Try to arrange informational interviews with as many people as you can who work in the field of your dreams to be certain that making the switch will make you feel more engaged with your work.

Your aim: To be as happy walking into the office on Monday morning as you are leaving the premises on Friday afternoon. When you love your job, no day feels too daunting. When you love your job, it doesn’t feel like work.

Need a little help finding your passion? This article can help: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

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2. Can You Keep up With Technology?

Are you keeping up with it? And is your current company supporting your efforts? The speed of technology is so fast that many companies today can’t keep up. This may result in anxiety among the company’s leadership. The sense of anxiety can filter down and impact the workers. Morale is low, and everyone fears for their job.

When switching careers, try to find a company that will allow you to learn as you grow. It also helps to consider yourself a lifelong learner. These days, we all have to be.

Invest the Time to Dream Big

If you’re now sure of why you want to make a move, it’s time to dig into your dreams to find exactly which direction to go.

3. What Does Your Vision Look Like?

Athletes visualize their signature moves. Politicians fantasize about winning. Your task is to visualize your dream. Where do want to be working five years from now? Ten years from now? Fifteen years from now? Figure out what your titles will be at each point along your new trajectory. Will you be living in your current geographical area or will you have moved?

Ask yourself the hard questions as well. Can you afford to switch careers right now? Will you be making more money or less than you currently do? How will you support those who depend on you?

Once you have your vision clearly committed to paper, run your vision by a few of the people who know you best. Do your friends encourage you to pursue your vision? (If they don’t, consider finding more supportive friends.)

4. Do You Know What to Expect?

It’s harder to switch careers than to find a new job in your current field. You may have to accomplish the move in several discreet steps. Will making a lateral move at your current company take you one step closer to your ultimate goal?

In addition to researching your dream field online, try to surround yourself with some friends who have recently switched careers. After you have formed a rough idea of the steps you will need to take to get from where you are now to your new career, consider committing it to an action plan. The more concrete you can make your Plan, the better.

Should you be attending more networking events? Do you need to burnish your online profile? Commit to action steps, and then put those steps into your daily calendar. You’re going to do this!

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If, for instance, you’ve decided to move from marriage counseling to financial planning — you’ve seen enough divorces resulting from money matters to know there’s a better way to help people — your listening skills and discretion will be an asset. Your research will reveal whether you need specialized training or licensing to qualify. If so, go online and add your name to every list you can find to learn more information. Start calculating how to pay for your courses. A bonus you’ll get with continuing ed courses: you’ll gain access to a strong peer network.

Take Action

Time to make the move. Start considering how you will approach these steps to get where you want to go.

5. Who Will Support You?

What if, early in your career, you made a job switch that you regret? Now is the time to call your ex-boss and try to get together for lunch or a cup of coffee. Let them know you are thinking of making a U-turn back to your former field.

What if your sister disapproves of every idea you have? Either resolve to avoid her for the next 12 months or call her right now — and tell her you’re switching careers and you don’t care whether she approves! Keep all naysayers at a distance during this transition time.

6. What Can You Do Each Day to Accomplish Your Dream?

Switching careers can be quite time-consuming, but if you break down the task into small chunks, tracking your progress as you go, you’ll have a better chance of success. Whether you spend a few hours today googling your dream career, or refurbish your LinkedIn profile to emphasize the skills you have that will help you land this new job — just keep at it.

Career-switcher’s hint: Working on your new dream for one hour each day is more productive than spending 12 hours working at it on a Sunday. The more committed you are to achieving your goal, the faster it will happen.

7. Does Your Resume Highlight the Correct Skills?

First, research the qualifications of the position you hope to land. Then, look for ways to mesh them with your own skills. While some careers require specific degrees and credentials, there are many positions you can transition into that require no additional education. Sometimes, what you bring from your own background is perfect.

Take inventory of all the hard and soft job skills you possess. For the skills you don’t have, put a plan in place to acquire them!

Highlight your qualifications in a way that makes a well-argued case for your compatibility with the organization and the position you’re after. Keep in mind that all employers look for candidates with skills that show leadership and the ability to solve problems, persevere through challenges, and get results.

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Refine the skills on your resume to incorporate these resume “musts.” Make sure, though, to only claim skills you truly possess. Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

Switching Careers Shortcuts

When switching careers, there are ways to make it easier. Look into these questions to see what can work for you in your search.

8. Do You Have Any Contacts in Your Desired Career?

People are remarkably forthcoming on their LinkedIn profiles. This helps when you search out employees in your dream field or a targeted company. But before you take full advantage of online networking, first make sure that your profile content is fresh.

Curate all social media accounts to reflect your new direction. Social media can increase your networking opportunities exponentially. Comment on the posts of your targeted contacts and pose pertinent questions to get on their radar.

9. Are You Networking Enough?

While it may be considered old-school to tap your organically grown (offline) network, it still comes with the best odds of success. Reach out to your friends and acquaintances with industry connections who can help you make a connection.

Make a point of meeting face-to-face with anyone who can offer you a lead or provide a reference. You never know what kind of opportunity will unfold from these offline connections.

Learn more about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

10. How Can You Become an Expert in Your New Field?

Start building the skills you’ll need to make your career switch. LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course. Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile.

Read trade magazines and study up on industry trends. Write and post articles on timely topics. Develop an online presence in the field of your dreams.

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11. Are You Willing to Put Yourself out There?

Nonprofit organizations often look for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, fundraising, and more. Once you’ve mastered the needed skills, be sure to have the head of the organization or a board member write a glowing recommendation for you.

Depending on your desired career, it may be possible to take on a contract assignment at a company where you learn on the job. A freelance gig allows you to polish your skills, make connections, and prove you’re serious about this career change.

For example, if your dream is to transform your knack for attracting followers through pithy postings into a career as a social media manager, don’t be afraid to pitch your services. Most companies need someone to manage their online presence and may welcome your fresh new strategy.

Switching Careers Results

Now that you’ve taken the steps to switch careers, bask in the success you’ve found in doing so.

12. How Can You Reward Yourself?

Set whatever benchmarks you need to achieve as you embark on switching careers, and think of them as cause for mini-celebrations. Find frugal ways to reward yourself.

However, hold out for the big, pop-the-champagne celebration until you land your dream job.

13. Has the Risk Paid Off?

People who prefer to play it safe throughout their careers often fall short of their potential. Research shows the primary reason executives derail is an inability to change[3]. It takes a large measure of courage to pursue a new path. And when you succeed, it fuels your confidence.

You have an air of self-assurance about you and a can-do spirit that stands out. And best of all, you’ll have moved from a dead-end or lackluster job to one into which you can pour your passion and realize the feeling of self-fulfillment.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to switch your career path once you’ve outgrown the one you’re in. Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction and you’ll reap great rewards by realizing the joys of job satisfaction.

More Tips on Switching Careers

Featured photo credit: Kevin Bhagat via unsplash.com

Reference

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