Changing careers is a big decision. This is especially true if you feel like you lack sufficient experience in your new field. However, if you’re feeling completely wiped out from your current job, and wrestling with symptoms of burnout, now might be an ideal moment to consider a new job or a career switch. After all, lots of other people are feeling the same way: A staggering 4.4 million workers left their jobs in September 2021.
As Shelley Zalis, chief executive of the Female Quotient, says, “Life is precious. Too precious to spend time in a job you hate where you feel undervalued, underpaid, and uninspired. […] It’s no longer the impressive title, corner office, or big bonus, but having more flexibility to pursue our passions and be present with our families.”
Here a few tips if you’re ready to take a leap and change careers in 2022:
1. Get comfortable with risk
Times of great upheaval can be opportune moments to learn something new about yourself. But if you’re about to take a big leap into a completely new field, you also should also get realistic about the risk involved.
As Fast Company contributor and author of The Long Game: How To Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World, Dorie Clark, advises, consider this as an opportunity for self-discovery, which will help you make better decisions going forward.
Ask yourself some guiding questions like:
- What is your level of comfort with taking risks?
- How do you react and respond to confronting an unknown that may work (or not) in your favor?
- Are you holding on desperately to your current job simply because you fear a lack of stability?
2. Reach out to connectors
If you’re new in an industry, you may find yourself reaching out cold to a hiring manager without someone who can vouch for you. To guarantee a higher level of success, it’s smart to get in touch with a connector.
In other words, ensure that you’re making time to contact and network with people in your desired industry. If networking feels uncouth and slimy, try to re-frame it in your own head as an exchange of resources. As Fast Company contributor Dina Smith describes it: “Think of networking as an opportunity to give, rather than to get. … There’s always something you can extend to others, and you probably have more to offer than you realize.”
Consider networking to be another advantageous skill that will help you land solidly in your dream field. Remember the next person you talk to could be the person who helps you land your big break.
3. Overcome feeling stuck
If you find yourself saying to yourself, “I’m not what they’re looking for” or “why would they hire someone like me?”—shake yourself out of these confidence-depleting statements now. One way to overcome these feelings is by asking yourself what sort of progress or life fulfillment you could achieve by remaining at your current role.
If the motivation you’re craving to do great work includes a new job, with better working conditions and flexibility to maintain the life you built during the pandemic, then let these values guide you to take action. Don’t let the uncertain side of yourself dissuade you from trying something new, forming a plan, and going for it.
4. Show that you have the right skills
You may not have the exact set of skills necessary to start mid-level in a new industry—you are new at this!—but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. Demonstrate to a hiring manager what skills can transfer from your history of work. In a recent LinkedIn Learning report, a leading skill of 2021 was “resilience,” followed by other general skills such as “communication across distributed teams” and “emotional intelligence.” Show them that you have these soft skills that can make you an asset, no matter what industry or team you’re joining.
This isn’t to say you should ignore signs you’re not qualified for a position when looking for new opportunities; instead, you should work on being an adaptable candidate for a job. Take in the obstacles and assess how you will tackle each. Fast Company contributor Tomas Chamurro-Premuzic describes the importance of demonstrating that you are “curious, confident, [and] concerned about improving.”
5. Review how financially ready you are
It takes a lot of guts to jump head-first into the unknown, but it also can be challenging financially. “If you have enough money in savings, you may be able to quit without a job lined up,” says Vicki Salmei, a career expert from Monster. “Or you may want to hang on to your current job and look for another job in your spare time.”
Salemi also recommends keeping in mind other expenses that may pop up if you quit, such as healthcare, or education costs. Be prudent with how much financial risk you can handle—including what your decision will mean for those who rely on you for support.