Can You Make a Career Change in a Bad Economy?

I like to hear from former clients and see how their job search is going and here’s what I’ve learned from the recent feedback: The people who are finding work the fastest are people who (1) know exactly what they want to do and (2) have recent, directly related experience.

This isn’t rocket science of course – as the number of job applicants increases, companies can afford to be more selective. If they advertise a sales position and have 10 qualified applicants, all with prior industry experience, there is no incentive for them to take a chance on a person with a good sales background, but in a completely different industry.

This probably sounds discouraging to everyone looking to make a career change right now. And in a way it is. But I’m not saying you have to cancel your plans to make a switch – just that you may have to implement a multi-phase plan.

If you need money now, consider taking a position in your current field or industry. Don’t worry if it’s not your ideal job – you won’t be staying long. (And if you have qualms about doing this, remember that the company will have no qualms about laying you off a year from now if it’s required, so look out for yourself. As long as you do good work and add value while you’re there, you have nothing to feel guilty about).

Once you’re settled, you can start working towards reaching your ultimate goal but you’ll be doing it with the help of a regular paycheck and without the stress that comes with being unemployed. Make an action plan and stick to it. Maybe you decide to devote one hour in the early morning to your search, or maybe you set aside 3 evenings and one day on the weekend. Do as much as you can manage.

Be strategic. Don’t just apply to jobs online – start networking your way into the industry or field that you want to move into. Look for ways to gain experience in unpaid capacities. Make connections and start helping people. And whatever happens, don’t get distracted from your plan!

If you are focused and keep at it, you will be able to make the career change – just not quite as quickly as you might once have hoped.

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