Woman starting a new career researching and using technology

The Coronavirus is the talk of the year. Maybe it’s even the talk of the decade, once this passes. As the economy takes a hit, there is more unemployment than there are job opportunities. You probably think that this is perhaps not the best time for starting a new career. While there may be some truth in that thought, don’t let negativity affect your preparation. Gear-up and get prepared.

When starting out, most of us are unsure where to begin. It’s hard to know which direction to take. New things tend to appear shiny. But what path to take to ensure positive outcomes is not always apparent. We may even know what we want and convince ourselves that that is not what we need. Whether you are changing careers at 40 or asking for a job after an internship, taking 7 initial steps can help you succeed.

7 Steps for Starting a New Career:

1. Identify your strengths (and areas for improvement).

Useful tips always start with a list. So, make one. Know what you are good at, areas you excel in, and tasks that you execute well. List your skills, and this is not just limited to technical skills, either. Soft skills and transferable skills are just as important and incredibly valued, especially in settings where teamwork is exercised more than independent projects.

What are you passionate about? A dream job is when it doesn’t feel like you are working at all. It’s pretty much getting paid for something you already genuinely enjoy doing. Understanding your strengths mean acknowledging your weaknesses. Assess how you can overcome any potential shortcomings with regard to the skills required for starting a new career.

2. Research.

Whether it is researching your chosen industry, the environment you are more likely to thrive in, job trends, or job fairs, get surfing on the internet or talk to people who are in the same industry or career path that you are aiming to be a part of. Joining an association or a chamber for professionals is a great way to network and do first-hand research about job trends or career opportunities.

We live in a generation where many things happen in minutes, and trends come and go in an instant. If you think you know everything there is to know about the job you want, starting a new career will be much easier. Continue non-stop research and keep educating yourself.

3. Package yourself well.

The saying “first impression lasts” is timeless. It never gets old and will never get old. What product sells fast? Those that come in a quality packaging from a visually-trustworthy brand. The same goes for you (product), your package (head-to-toe outfit), and brand (style). When shopping for clothes, you maybe tempted to purchase lounge wear for quarantine-and-chill style. Resist! Instead, invest in outfits that are professional-chic. You can be comfortable and polished. Try to find outfits that represent you authentically as your best self. A visit to a professional hair salon or barbershop can freshen-up your look and more importantly, give you an extra boost of confidence to keep you shining like the star you are.

Once you polish-up your presentation, be sure to polish your professional resume as well. Adapt a template suitable to the career path you are taking. Remember, while there is a general template for resumes, it is always a plus if you align yours to fit the type of industry and career change you are aiming for.

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It is a typical HR question, but visualizing where you see yourself in the next few years can help decide the next steps and lead you in the right direction. A job and a career are two different things. One pays for the food on the table, while the other is where you passion lies. You want your career to be something you look forward to every morning. Figure out what motivates you. And, if you are trying to get a job unrelated to your degree, here are three things to consider.

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working for something we love is called passion.” –Simon Sinek

So, ask yourself. Do you see yourself in a stressful career path or one that will excite you every Monday? The majority of you are certainly nodding along “yes,” to the latter. Consider non-career elements when you anticipate and visualize your future. Do you see yourself married with kids? Running your own marketing firm? Will the career path that you will be taking contribute to that five-year plan?

5. Ask the professionals.

Guidance from a career coach can help you with unanswered questions. They know the ins-and-outs of job searching and can help you stand out from the crowd for the right opportunities. You can also get to know yourself a little better with online personality tests to narrow down career choices. Based on your personality type, passion, or temperament, seeking one-on-one professional advice may help you take a shortcut instead of spending years of trying trial-and-error in an attempt to figure out the right path on your own.

6. Don’t turn down interviews.

You would be surprised how many people do this. Whether it is because of nerves, lack of preparation or at first glance, the role hasn’t piqued your interest, you can’t be certain if you immediately dismiss the opportunity to learn more. It’s important not to limit yourself. Go to as many interviews as possible. While it is good to know precisely what job sparks joy and the company you want to belong in, keeping your options (and your mind) open is a better strategy when starting a new career.

Once you have identified which career path to take and what jobs are suited for you, it’s time to prepare for a job interview. Practice makes perfect. List possible interview questions, write down your most valuable skills, and make sure that you communicate your skills and value effectively during interviews. Those are the standard questions that get asked, and it really matters how you answer them.

7. Never stop learning.

You may already have the degree or needed skill set for your chosen career path, but continually learning new things or taking up specialized training relevant to you will always be valuable and will be an added asset. No recruiter has ever looked at a resume or interviewed a person and got put-off by the list of relevant skill sets and several pieces of training that an applicant has acquired.

Each person has their own approach in how to jumpstart their careers. However, applying the above steps will help guide you in the right direction for starting a new career successfully.

By guest contributor: Aubrey @ ContentCampfire.com