Career Advice

How To Switch Careers Early in Life

Even in a good economy, switching careers is never an easy proposition.

You’re competing for jobs with experienced workers, and you often have to work twice as hard to convince employers that you’re worth a look. And switching careers in a down economy can be downright brutal.

But it’s not all bad news. Switching careers early in life puts you in a better position—the other people in the same age demographic don’t have decades of experience on you, and in some cases, they have nearly as little time in the field as you do. As long as you play your cards right, you can be just fine with a little persistence and a lot of hard work.

Pick your field carefully. This should go without saying, but for many people, it doesn’t: think long and hard about the new path you’re choosing. Ideally, your new path should both be something you love and it should be in an industry with solid job prospects. Obviously, at least one of the two should be present (who switches to a career they hate that isn’t hiring?). Do your research before you make your move: read up on the industry, check out the statistics on the jobs you’re thinking of looking at with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and talk to people in the positions you want.

Look for internships or volunteer opportunities. The best way to build experience in a given field, of course, is to find a job. However, if you can’t find a job because you don’t have experience, you’re caught in a catch-22. In that case, the best way is to work for free. No, you won’t be paid in money, but you’ll be given something valuable all the same: experience and contacts, the two most valuable things in the job hunt.

Don’t be afraid to take an entry-level job. If you’ve been on the job hunt recently, you probably read this line and laughed—getting an entry-level job isn’t as easy as it once was. But if you’re offered one, think long and hard before turning it down. In fact, check that: don’t think at all, and accept it—unless you’ve got multiple offers on the table, in which case: why are you reading this?

Play up your current experience. Re-visit your resume. Think of things you did in past jobs, internships, or coursework that are relevant to your new field. Don’t just brush off your old career as useless in your new job search. There are plenty of skills useful in nearly every industry (solid communications skills, computer software or hardware capabilities, financial knowledge), and you might be surprised what employers are looking for.

All told, switching careers isn’t easy. You’ll often have to swallow your pride and move down a couple of rungs on the ladder. But switching careers early on is easier for one simple reason: you haven’t got as many rungs below you to drop. So keep your chin up, keep trying, and good luck! – Original post by myFootpath’s Nate Abbott