I came across this very inspiring read on career change. ‘You shouldn’t remain chained to what you think your career path has to be.’ It is so true. It is never too late to change jobs, roles, departments even industries. It is never too late to learn new things, expand our skill set, develop our potential, explore new sectors.
We don’t have to be stuck in a career we don’t feel is right for us any more. The studies you chose or your parents chose for you, don’t have to dictate what you should be doing now or your whole life.
The world changes and we change along with it. Our encounters, our successes, our failures, our personal and professional experiences change us, change what we expect of ourselves, our goals, our ambitions, our dreams.
Where we are now might be different from where you thought you’d be. But nothing is impossible and any change is still possible should you decide it. As we get older, we realise one crucial thing : that time is running out …As the most precious asset, let’s not waste it on the wrong career, doing the wrong job instead let’s chase that dream job and be truly fulfilled!
The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question, “How do you leverage a non-traditional background in a new role?” is written by Jeremy Roche, president and CEO of FinancialForce.
So many of us enter the working world with a single-pane view of what is expected of us after we get that coveted diploma. You studied medicine, so you must be a doctor. You went to law school, so you must be a lawyer. But it’s never too late or too early to try something new, whether in your own field or elsewhere.
In the span of my 25-plus year career, curiosity and an open mind have given me the opportunity to hold a variety of roles across different industries and departments. I was a systems engineer early on, a sales executive, a CTO, and am now a CEO. I have a background in law, so for a time I even served as FinancialForce’s legal counsel, while also managing IT.
Because this is the path I have taken, I have a soft spot for my own employees who want to take a risk and move to a new role. Despite the degree you earn (or don’t), you can always find a way to pivot your career and the kinds of roles you take on. Follow your instincts. You don’t need to remain chained to what you think your career path has to be.
I’ll be honest, though: Moving into a new role with a non-traditional background isn’t easy. But if you’re ambitious and curious, it can be both personally and professionally rewarding. The twists and turns, the challenges, and the people who helped me along the way has made it worthwhile. Who knows what the next 25 years will bring, but in the meantime, here are a few things I’ve learned that’ll help you take your career in a new direction without losing momentum:
Learn everything you can about the new role
If you’re thinking about accepting a new role in a department or industry that’s foreign to you, it’s time to learn everything you possibly can. Look for books, blogs, and conferences that cover the new role or industry that can inform you about the market landscape and its terminology. Learn by doing: Shadow someone in a similar role. Mirror their every move, ask questions, and soak up their knowledge.
Identify transferrable skills
Just because you’re transitioning roles doesn’t mean you’re starting from scratch. You likely already have a base of skills you’ve learned in previous roles to draw from. I went from CTO to CEO — executive positions that have very different responsibilities and skill sets — but I was able to transfer the knowledge I had about how to deal with technology and pain points and apply that to other departments within the organization.
Ask yourself what hard or soft skills you currently have that could apply to this new role. What experiences from your last job could be spun to help you succeed today? This will not only help you thrive in your role, but if you’re in the interviewing process, it may help make a case to get buy-in at your company — or from a hiring manager — on why you’d be a good fit.
Be willing to go back basics
I can’t express enough how important it is to throw your ego out the door. When you jump into a new career or position, there is a 100% chance you will make mistakes. No matter how much experience you have and how high up the ranks you were, when you start a new job, you will have to prove yourself all over again.
And while that might sound daunting, you have to stay positive. Embrace the unknown and be willing to go back to the basics of learning new skills. This experience can build empathy, truly enhancing your leadership skills in the long run.
Seek out advocates and mentors
Changing careers can be much easier if you have an advocate and a mentor who can help you. I’ve been lucky enough to have bosses and colleagues in the industry that I owe much of my professional growth to. Seek out guidance from someone you want to learn from, such as a manager who can refer you for a new job, or a colleague who can help you transition more easily to a new role. It’s much easier to make the switch inside an organization if you have the referral of someone who’s respected at the company. A mentor with experience in this new role — or maybe even someone who’s made the same — can help develop the skills you need to succeed.
If your goal is to change roles at your current company, you may need to be patient while they find someone who can fill your previous role. You may even need to be involved in finding this person and training them.
Once you do kick off in your new role, make sure you manage your own expectations. It will take awhile before you feel like you’re truly succeeding in your new position. There will be unforeseen challenges and learning curves you didn’t anticipate. But remember your very first job: It wasn’t a walk in the park right off the bat, was it? A successful career transition takes time. If it’s a move you believe in, it will be well worth the work you put into it.
Both the individual employee and the company stand to benefit from embracing career flexibility. For employers, providing flexibility in roles and letting people try different parts of the business prevents them from leaving because they get to learn something new. For employees, realizing you work at a company at which you can take control of your own career may be the best motivation you could ever hope for. If you stay curious, you could end up somewhere completely different than you imagined, but completely fulfilling.