January 6, 2019
Is shifting careers or changing jobs a priority for you in 2019? Whether you are young and just starting out, or a seasoned professional looking to move your career in a different direction, our tips for relaunching your career in 2019 will help you be prepared.
Let’s start by dispelling a few myths about careers: a job and a career are not the same thing, you don’t have to do one thing until you retire. And yes, you’re never too old for change careers.
A job and a career are different, though the two are interrelated. A job is something you do to pay bills or pay for college. A job gets you paid for a few months or a few years, and you do the same task year after year. A career, on the other hand, begins with a position with the opportunity to grow—in pay scale and title—over time. Merriam-Webster adds to the definition: a career is “a permanent calling.”
But sometimes the first career path isn’t your calling, or you have several callings and they develop at different points in a lifetime. Read below if you are rethinking your career trajectory:
Breaking into a Career: Early Years
Many college students go through college with the expectation that a degree guarantees a job, but the degree alone is not enough. Securing a job is hard, especially if your degree isn’t in high-demand need like degrees in computer science or economics. It may take some time after graduating to find an entry-level job in your field that will align with your career path. In some cases, you’ll find an entry-level job that will feed into your career through strategic networking and resources. In other cases, you’ll find that the field you originally wanted isn’t for you—that’s okay. Make these discoveries early.
If you find yourself changing fields or struggling to enter one, you must create a vision for yourself. What looks and feels like progression to you? Work towards growth. Staying in a position without a raise or promotion in sight is as bad as not staying in one job. For young people, “job hopping” is normal because today’s economy is that volatile. The gig economy, where work is temporarily outsourced to consultants and freelancers, is a product of innovation and technology. If you find yourself in job loops, are you hoping for a long-term position, your own business, or are you stuck?
When you’re young, the biggest obstacle to breaking into your career of choice is professional experience. Begin volunteer work and seek internship experience while in college or shortly after graduation. The rest will depend on multiple factors like your network, your LinkedIn presence, and resume strength.
The thing to know is that timing matters, and if you’re playing the right cards, then something will work out. Stay motivated: who are you working for? The answer should be you and your dreams.
In some unfortunate cases, a few years of breaking into a career can turn into a decade or two. Consider actors who became big later in their careers: Melissa McCarthy was 41 when she starred in Bridesmaids and Samuel L. Jackson was 46 when he starred in Pulp Fiction. Toni Morrison and Mark Twain are monumental writers in American literature, yet Morrison didn’t publish a novel until 39 years old and Twain didn’t publish The Adventures of Tom Sawyer until he was 41 years old.
Sometimes the dream career is a matter of tenacity. Remember your vision, taking risks wherever possible. A risk has a danger, an unknown factor—responses to your career decision, for example, but there is also the chance that the risk leads to positive change. At the most basic level, a risk can mean not staying in one job for more than two or three years. In fact, people between the ages of 18-48 years old will spend under 5 years per job.
Learn from each role: specialize in one capacity but seek training for basic technology. “Basic” changes with the year. By the 21st century, writing an email was a basic skill in the workplace, and twenty years later, text messaging and using apps are the new necessity. One way to ensure your tech knowledge doesn’t fall short is to collaborate on projects with colleagues. More expensive but valuable is taking courses at a community center or community college.
Don’t assume the solution is college or an advanced degree, which brings the challenge of tuition with the small promise of a job. Before pursuing college studies, exhaust your connections, and don’t overlook professionals at entry-level positions. Find a mentor at work or through friendships. Young mentors can teach you about technology and social media; older mentors can teach you about pay negotiation and work culture. Build a network that grows with you but also grows apart from you. Knowing professionals in different fields gives you an edge. These connections, along with close friends and family, can also provide career insight. Opportunity presents itself in unexpected channels!
With the age of social media, we see a curated version of people’s lives. The reality is that job dissatisfaction is a problem, so keep this in mind; hold on to your goals because hard work pays off and lasts longer than a social media post.