How to Make a Career Change When Workers Are In Demand

By Mac Prichard

With only three months left in 2018, the Portland economy is looking strong. Unemployment is hovering around 3.8%. Talented, qualified candidates are in demand as employers struggle to find enough candidates for the increasing amount of open positions. Now’s the time to take advantage of the strong economy, and reach for a new Your holiday mindset: New Year, New Career job that challenges you while growing your career. Here are some key do’s and don’ts for how to make a career change in this strong economy.

Consider your options.

Want to work for yourself? Turn your side hustle into a full-time job.
Freelance work is in demand – sharpen your skills as a independent contractor so you can transition into a career that aligns with your passions and interests. Some experts report that as early as 2020, a majority of global workers will be members of the gig economy. So develop your skills and network now.

Don’t pursue a new position just for the paycheck.
In the short term, getting a new job that pays more may seem like a great deal, but if you’re not remotely interested in your new position, eventually you’re going to get burned out. Avoid changing jobs too frequently. A little bit of job hopping can be a good thing for your career and lead to increased salary, but too much will present a red flag for employers who are looking to invest in employees for the long term.

Start with a strong job search plan.

Get clear on the “why” and the “what.”
Think about why you want this career change and how you think it will improve your situation. What might the downsides or risks be that you haven’t fully considered before? What does this new job or career look like? Do you have any career capital in this new direction? In other words, will you be able to leverage your skills, contacts, and professional brand to make a successful transition?

Make an action plan.
Figure out what the career move is going to take. Do you need certain skills, certifications, classes, or licenses that you are currently lacking? You need to make a decision about whether you’re willing to make the front-end investment this pivot requires. Determine your primary goal and ideal timeline. Once you’ve got that nailed, break it down into major timelines – skills you need to acquire, people you need to meet, financial cushion you need to develop, and assign yourself daily and weekly tasks.

Assess and flex your skills.
Take stock of your skills and think about how you might apply them in new ways that add value to an employer and help you reach your career goals. Identify transferable skills, computer skills, and work-specific skills. This also means grooming your soft skills, which are the personal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. The most in-demand soft skills are leadership, communication, active listening, relationship building, collaboration, and time management or the ability to work under pressure.

You’re in demand. Tell your career story confidently.

Want a change? Shift your brand.
If you’re making a significant career change, you will need to shift your professional brand so that you make sense to your new target audience. How are you going to brand yourself in a way that not only makes you seem like the logical choice, but maybe even positions you as a clear standout?

Use social media to build new connections.
Make sure you engage with other thought leaders in the field or industry you plan to move to. LinkedIn is a valuable tool for engaging with your network, professional groups, and thought leaders in your areas of interest.

Don’t neglect your network.

Stay in touch with your network, no matter what the economic situation. In a hot economy, your network will support you with mentoring, learning, and coaching opportunities. In a cold economy, your network can connect you to the hidden job market. The best time to build your network is when you have a job. Then, when you need to look for work, your network will already be in place.

It’s a seller’s job market.

Put yourself in the driver’s seat.
No one else can determine your career path for you, it’s entirely up to you! So take the wheel and go your own way. Don’t be afraid to go off-roading, think outside the corporate career ladder and get creative to find a job that makes the most sense for you. Don’t wait for someone to take charge of your professional path. You’ve got to invest in yourself and create opportunities for growth and development.

Don’t hold yourself back. Now is the time!
Don’t wait to make a move because you don’t meet all the qualifications for a role, even though you meet a lot of them. Job descriptions are aspirational, especially in an economy like ours. No employer expects you to meet all of the criteria listed, so have confidence in your abilities. If you meet a majority of the identified preferred attributes, go ahead and apply!