A lot of research has attributed career changes or transitions to a phenomenon called “career shock ” Through the studies they have carried out, researchers admit that this shock could range from oddly negative events to pleasantly positive events. Irrespective of what triggered the change, one thing is common to all successful career transitions: it is a strategic redesigning process.
In the creative industry today, transitioning is not a strange word because creatives move frequently between mediums, tools, teams, and processes. However, to have invested time and resources in a particular job or career path only to be confronted with a voluntary or forced decision to change is not a walk in the park, even though it’s possible.
In this article, we will analyze if a career transition is the best decision one for you, how to be successful at mid-level stage, and the pitfalls to avoid during the process.
Why the change? Why Now?
In 1994, Jeff Bezos was 30 years old, 8 years out of college, and had a well-established career in finance, yet he quit his job as senior vice president of a hedge fund, D.E. Shaw. As we all know, he didn’t quit to apply for another job in the finance industry; he went on to build one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the world. Talk about a career shift.
Now here’s what’s interesting about this story : Within the 48 hours his not-so-willing boss gave him to rethink this move he was about to make, Jeff Bezos came up with a phenomenal concept called the Regret Minimization Framework. With this, he was able to project and visualize the future, as well as the number of regrets he was willing to accept 50 years in the future. This singular framework gave him the boost of confidence he needed to give his crazy idea a shot. He knew it was a move worth making because, whether it worked or not, he was sure that he’d never regret it. In fewer words, he found his why, and it trumped the short-term benefits of staying as a V.P. in the company.
You may be in a bind, looking for pointers to confirm if this decision is the best one for you and if now is the time to make it. The truth is, nothing can really help you get to that pivoting point until you take a moment to reflect and discover, “Why does this change matter to me, my core values, and the kind of life I want to live?” This should be your first move.
How to Articulate the Cost
As a creative who has risen to a mid-level position in your career, it would be unwise to assume that a career shift would incur no cost. This cost, however, varies with different people and bottom lines. For some, having to move a level lower in the new industry or work with a change in income to build a business idea is a financial and positional cost. For another, the cost could be psychological or knowledge-based, where work identities have to be reinvented and new skills developed. Whatever cost is incurred, it’s important for you to acknowledge that it would require a great deal of adaptation for you and those around you. So, don’t forget to factor them into your decision-making.
How to identify what you want
What career or position would you pursue if money wasn’t involved? This question was posed to a former finance professional who pivoted to a career in HR. She gave a surprising answer: dog walking! Although it’s impossible to completely eradicate matters of money when it comes to career moves, it’s good to have that conversation with yourself. Explore your wildest idea, then zoom in on what’s practicable and achievable.
When it comes to career transitions, research recommends developing a career blueprint that assesses your personality through self-evaluation and frequent communication with trusted individuals. Some research spotlights the Five-Factor Model of personality as a framework worth considering while going through this process. You stand to gain a lot from these analytical processes as they help you weigh your options against your strengths, skills, and weaknesses, which in turn makes your decision on what you really want easier. Thankfully, there are platforms built to make this process seamless. Here is a not-so exhaustive list
- 123 Career Aptitude Test
- Career Explorer
- Career OneStop Interest Assessment
- Career OneStop Value Matcher
- Career OneStop Skills Matcher
- Kiersey Temperament Sorter
- O*NET Interest profiler
You can explore as many as you can lay your hands, and corroborate the results for more surety.
How to Leverage Your Network
Yes, we are using the buzzword “networking”. You would be depriving yourself of so much ease and help if you downplay the vital role your network can play in this process. It’s understandable that not everyone is comfortable sharing their plans with people just to see if they can help. However, if you followed through on identifying what you really want, this process shouldn’t be too tedious.
Ever heard of informational interviews? Yes, it is an opportunity to get all the information you need to know about a specific career path or job. Many creatives going through a transition like you, leverage their network to help them set up informational interviews. The advantage is that they are not as formal and stiff as real interviews; in fact, you get to be in charge. You get to ask all the questions (the good, the bad, and the ugly) that’ll give you a good idea of your desired career. This article by Alison Doyle gives a detailed breakdown on strategic questions to ask and how to make the most of the moment.
How to Avoid Career Transition Pitfalls
According to a report by CNBC, a person changes careers at an average age of 39. They based this claim on the peculiarity of this age, when workers reach mid-career levels and feel stagnated or unfulfilled. This period is called the self-renewal stage. It is primarily characterized by a strong desire to change, but it also needs a tangible amount of preparation, planning, and change management.
In another study of 57 respondents, it was highlighted that 95% of career changes at this stage are not assisted by coaches, mentors, books, or research articles. This statistic points out a knowledge and support gap during this period for mid-level creatives. It is, however, still very possible to have a successful career transition and find the fulfillment you’ve longed for.
Now, here’s an attempt to summarize important pitfalls to avoid while navigating your career transition as a mid-level creative;
- Don’t make a rash decision.
- Don’t choose a new career based on salary, Do your due diligence, search the job market in the next field.
- Don’t neglect your network.
- Don’t quit without having another job lined up (this point may relative to the plan you’ve drawn up)
- Don’t go back to school prematurely, when you can skill up with professional certifications.
- Don’t downplay your current skill set as irrelevant.
- Don’t use the same resume when navigating a career transition, tailor it to the specific job description.
Above all the tips and facts from research and the opinions of experts, the most important thing for you is knowing that a career transition of whatever nature is possible for you, even at mid-career level. So, go for it!
Author : Ifeoluwa Alabi
Ifeoluwa Alabi believes strongly in the dynamic power of words to control any narrative, evoke a desired emotion and propel a specific action. As a content Strategist, she designs conversation that helps improve overall brand and user experience. She is also in charge of communication and editorials at For Creative Girls