Career change isn’t always a perfectly planned out process where you have an undying passion for a industry or role and aim to find that perfect position. Sometimes the starting point is when you realise that you are burned out or unsatisfied in your current role, or become unemployed and know that you want something different.

A job seeker reached out to me a few weeks ago and was mired in these murky waters. She had made an initial step in the right direction and had studied the field she thought she would like to join, one subject away from completion and the provider shut its doors so all of the help and support that had been initially promised was gone, without a word of warning. She approached various other agencies and got conflicting advice that was getting her nowhere. When we connected, her frustration and confusion was clear.

In our initial conversation we spoke through the past year of her life, her studies, job search and past experience. That brief conversation made one thing obvious to me – her frustration in her previous employment had shown her that it was time to change, a call from an education provider gave her a tenuous direction and then after dedicating a year to study she was left without support to make that leap. Of course people change careers without help all the time but it’s a hard slog. If you are lacking clear direction, it gets harder and can end up with a resume full of “tester jobs” that makes securing the right opportunity even harder.

She had relevant volunteer experience, she had great transferable skills but had been told to completely disregard these. She wasn’t hearing back from employers, unless it was a rejection email and she was losing hope in making a transition to a role that will bring her satisfaction in her working life.

So, what are we going to do to turn this around?

First step is getting all the frustration out because creating a phenomenal application or cold calling a business when you are frustrated or feeling negative does not reap good results. We talked it out. It was a bad situation but it was time to move past it and find a way to fix it.

Then it was time to get some direction in the job search, this one is an ongoing process that isn’t ticked off the to-do list in a few minutes. The big question here is what role do you ideally want? Where do you want that role to take you? What kind of company do you want to work for? I have written about career change and the things to consider for, click here to read the article. We are using JUMP by e-parachute to assist in this process.

Now we currently have a vague idea of the type of role we are aiming for. What now?

It was time to address her job search and applications. Her resume and cover letter are an amalgamation of conflicting advice from many different providers and didn’t sound anything like her, or highlight why she would be a great hire. I am a big believer in customising your applications for each role, every employer is looking for something slightly different and it should be properly addressed to get to interview stage. Be confident in your abilities, look for transferable skills and don’t be afraid to talk about your successes in previous roles.

The job search strategy is all about stepping stones. Changing to a brand new industry, even with transferable skills can be a hard sell. So we are looking for opportunities that tick some of the ideal career boxes, these in-between roles are going to build her skill set and her employability for her ideal role. An example to demonstrate stepping stones in career change is if you are a sales person but want to be a corporate trainer. Sure you would already have some transferable skills but a leap straight into your ideal role is going to be a hard sell. So while upskilling to have any required qualifications, you could progress into training other sales staff in a leadership role. From there you could move into a business that offers sales training to other organisations, and then after building enough experience, move into your ideal role. It isn’t a quick process but it will get you where you want to be.

As we move through this process, we will work on other areas to help her reach her career goals and continue to grow. As we gain traction in the job search, we will start addressing interviewing skills and get her ready to nail her interviews. We will be looking at her online profile and make sure she is findable and leaving the right impression there and also look at growing her network and get proactive in her job search.

For those of you reading this and are in a similar situation, I urge you to look for the common sense in any advice you are given and to always remember that you are in control of your job search. Don’t be discouraged if you do not have the perfect experience, look for transferable skills you have and ways to upskill yourself. Be active in your job search, reach out to people and start having conversations and remain positive.