One of the single most important steps when exploring and then making a career pivot is to enlist people around you to support the mission. As we mentioned in our last post, pulling off a major career transition is incredibly challenging work; this truly is no time to go it alone.
However, I also recognize that plenty of people trying to pull this off already have full-time jobs and/or demanding at-home obligations; we don't all have endless time to go glad-handing about the community all week long.
If that sounds like you, fear not. You don't have to enlist everyone on the planet here. Focus on the most important ones first.
The 3 Most Important People to Enlist:
- People Who Will Always Have Your Back
No matter how "on your own" you think you are in this, you surely have a short list of friends, family members and/or professional contacts who will go to the ends of the earth to help you, or to see you succeed. For goodness sake, bring them into the fold. Yes, you may need to be a bit covert about your intentions with direct colleagues if you're still employed elsewhere, but be as open and genuine about your plans as possible.
And then, as we just discussed in the last post, be specific in how they can help you. Generic requests confuse people and do little to compel action. If you paint a clear picture, your people will likely be quite inclined to do something that will directly benefit your career pivot ( e.g. make an introduction, share some knowledge, review your resume, etc.)
- People Who Are Killing It in Your Field of Interest
In every reasonably sized geographic market, there will be dozens (or hundreds) of people that are just killing it in your field of interest. Study them. And then introduce yourself. Yes, that's right. Introduce yourself.
For certain, don't ambush these people, or make requests that are totally unreasonable of someone you've never met ("Hi, could you drop everything and review my resume?" "Could you drive across town in rush hour traffic and meet me for coffee?") But, certainly you can send a quick note that compliments this person for something she's doing, briefly explains why you're contacting her, and asks for a simple, quick favor, such as "May I ask you two quick questions about your work?"
If you can build some rapport with the superstars in your target field, they may take you under their wings, offer valuable advice, introduce you to people of influence, etc. At the very least, you may learn things from them that help you with your transition strategy.
- People Who Have Made Similar Transitions Before You
Even if you suspect that you're the first person on this earth to ever think of transitioning from Industry X to Industry Y (or Job X to Job Y), I'm willing to bet that you can find at least a person or two (think: LinkedIn Advanced Search) who has made a career pivot from the type of field you're in now to the type of field you're dreaming about. Find them. Approach them in a genuine, curious and "I'm not about to ask you for 15 hours of your time" manner.
This is the very type of person that might help you shape your overall game plan, uncover opportunities you'd not yet considered, and/or avoid pitfalls that might crop up along the way. No need to always reinvent the wheel here. Find someone who has made a similar trek before you, and succeeded.
And if you have questions about a career pivot, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons (Marc Falardeau)