By Ashley Womble
Vicki Aubin is no stranger to career changes. She began her career in the music industry, working for CMJ and a record label. But when MP3s came onto the scene and shook up the business, she decided to make a change. She spent several years working as recruiter in finance before giving into the voice in her head that was saying, “Hey, you should coach people.” Now she’s called the Rockin’ Career Coach and runs her own personal branding and career transition agency in NYC.
So she knows from personal experience that rebooting your career after achieving senior status in your current field doesn’t mean starting over as an intern. In fact, Aubin says that it’s possible to switch fields mid-career and earn a salary bump in the process. If you are creative, flexible and persistent, her tips can help you make the transition.
Do your homework. Aubin recommends doing some in-depth research into your dream industry. The internet makes it easy to research salaries, the qualifications hiring managers want, and even what it is like working at specific company. “You need to figure out if the new job will be right for you in terms of the culture, your responsibilities, and career trajectory,” she says. Your research will also help you determine if you need to continue your education. Before enrolling in a grad program (a costly and time-consuming endeavor), she recommends speaking to people a few levels up from your ideal position. “It may be possible that you can begin working in a field without more education and get promoted within the company,” Aubin says.
Craft your personal sales pitch. After you have decided what you want to do, you have to figure out what you have to offer. “This is the biggest roadblock I encounter when working with career changers. They know exactly what they want to do, but they aren’t sure what their unique selling position is,” she says. If you breakdown the responsibilities your current role, you may find that you already have some unique skills that will make you an attractive candidate to a future employer.
Learn the lingo. Another benefit of research is learning how to present yourself in the language people in your new field speak. You need optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile with the right keywords. “A lot of women are afraid of going a few notches down the ladder when they switch fields,” she says. “You can avoid this by connecting the dots and communicating your transferable skills.”
Be patient. Depending on how well you are able to connect the dots between your old and next position, your transition could take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years. But she encourages job searchers to take their time. Making a transformative career change requires a lot of effort and once you are settled in your new job the last thing you want is “buyer’s remorse.”
Pad your savings account. While you are researching your new field and sending out those resumes, it’s a good idea to sock away as much cash as you can, ideally enough to cover six months of expenses. “Having savings can help you mitigate risk and will give you the option to take a short-term pay cut,” she says. The better prepared you are to embrace your new career, the more successful you will be.