Ready for a Change?

Tips and tricks as you consider a career change

Woman drawing a yellow right-turn arrow on a cement wall with white arrows pointing down.

Are you happy with what you’re doing for a living? Do you wake up ready to take on the day’s challenges? Or, like many others, are you seriously considering a career change?

You’re not alone. A recent study from Microsoft reveals that, “Career anxiety is a major side-effect of the pandemic and it’s affecting workers of every age. Young people are concerned about their career prospects, but the over-45s are just as worried about their future. This has sparked a wave of interest in mid-life professional pivots, with our research revealing that one in four over-45s is considering a career switch or role change.”

But you may be thinking:

  • I’m too old.
  • I need to start from scratch.
  • I have to have this all planned out.
  • My income will suffer.

You need to take these and other myths out of the conversation. And we’re here to help.

But First, Is It Possible to Change Careers During a Pandemic?

Absolutely! The same self-assessments apply, as iterated by recent “The Future of Work” event panelist Sherry Sims, Founder and CEO of Black Career Women’s Network.

“If you’re talking about transitioning into another industry, study what is required for those roles and compare your current skill sets now to what you may need. And then, of course, if there’s education involved or certifications involved, you’ll need to plan out what’s required. And then the soft skills that are necessary; being agile is so important in today’s work market. Take some assessments: What strengths and weaknesses do you currently have and what you will need? Start networking with people who are already in the industry because they can teach you what the best practices are and things that you need to know.”

Panelist Elizabeth Bille, Senior Vice President of Workplace Culture at EVERFI, agrees: ”I would add that when you’re in that interview or as you’re having that conversation, be able to tell the story of why this job and why now in your career. How does this job, this new role, make sense for you and where you’re going. Be able to tell that story of the experiences you’ve had in your past and what you want to accomplish, and how this role is the next logical step in that journey.”

Read more from “The Future of Work” event.

Start Your Journey

Design thinking illustration of discover, define, develop and deliver

Design thinking is a process you can use to solve problems. As a career changer, design thinking can help delineate a path forward toward your dream career.

Jeff Eyet, co-founder of big and one of our instructors, recently presented a talk entitled Using Design Thinking to Plan Your Career as a way to plan for your next career move.

As he says, “Design thinking is great for finding product/market fit.” And if you are that product, using design thinking can help you find the most efficient way to fit into a new job. Here’s how.

Blue tiles reading passion and drive

UC Berkeley Information School Career Services Director Rebecca Anderson recommends that you start by focusing on your values, patterns and strengths.

What are the values you’re willing to stand up for, to argue about at dinner parties (or perhaps just on social media)?

Write these values down and look for patterns. Do the same with your strengths, passions and energy drains (the work you know you never want to do again).

Once you’ve figured out the type of work you’re interested in, go check it out in real life.

Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people holding the job you aspire to. What are their backgrounds and credentials? What professional groups and associations have they joined? How do they present their expertise?

But don’t fall into the trap of relying solely on Internet research; informational interviews enable you to have an in-person or phone conversation with a professional in your area of interest, as well as provide networking opportunities. Just remember that you’re there to gather information, not to sell yourself or put your interviewee on the spot by asking for a job (though you should bring your updated résumé along in case they ask for it!). Get 6 quick tips to prep for an informational interview.

Still Not Sure?

Get in touch with our Career Services team! They are here to provide individualized career services and training to our current, future and former students. Get help in closing your individual skills gap, and gain access to the relevant professional experiences and expert networks to expand your professional ecosystem.

Make an appointment to see a Career Counselor!

Make the First Step

Middle-aged black woman working at kitchen table on a laptop

At this stage, assess what skills you need to learn and how to obtain them.

If you need to reskill or earn another degree, you may be considering grad school. But the typical on-campus master’s degree will take you out of the workforce for two years, which means not only two years of lost salary, but also work experience and retirement contributions.

The good news is that a certificate can be the bridge between where you are now and the work you want to do, and is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a master’s or professional degree.

Advertisement about California gives back and volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in the field that you aspire to join. It shows your motivation, a quality that employers prize. As a volunteer, you are demonstrating that you are an involved person who is potentially a good team player.

A recent Deloitte survey, Building Leadership Skills Through Volunteering, found that “82% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose a candidate with volunteer experience on their résumé.”

Read more about how volunteering can help you get where you want to go.

The Job Search

Woman working at wooden table looking at papers

1. Rework Your Résumé, CV or Portfolio
Creating and editing a résumé that stands out is still critical. If you’re short on time, we’ve got “Top 10 Résumé Tips to Get You Noticed,” as well as a longer guide that builds on the personal-branding strategies presented by Rebecca Anderson.

A sharp portfolio can also help you visually pull together your accomplishments so you have something to point to in an interview: Show, don’t just tell! Oh, and please make sure you check your grammar!

Young black woman looking at a laptop

2. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a fairly familiar platform to most professionals — it’s an opportunity to build your digital brand and expand your network. With the pandemic making it more difficult to meet professionals, how can you use LinkedIn to your advantage? How do you virtually grow your network and boost your chances to get a job?

In our recent Career Week event, LinkedIn’s Starshine Roshell, Business Content Producer and LinkedIn Learning Instructor, spoke about how you can improve your digital branding and find your next job using the platform’s simple yet powerful tools.

So what better time than now to make sure your LinkedIn profile is working to your advantage? Check out the top 12 take-aways from this informative event.

3. Slack. Wait, Slack?
Slacking your way to a new position certainly sounds suspect. But numerous Slack communities are springing up, and in them are job-listing channels and opportunities to find out what people in your ideal jobs are saying and doing in the day-to-day. Most of the growth is in the tech industry, predictably, but Slack can be a resource for all job-hunters by providing networking opportunities in communities of interest.

Illustration of connected headshots

4. Network.
Networking is simply too vital to be overlooked. Here are some tips on how to frame your networking approach and get the most out of these interactions:

Read more about expanding your professional network.

You’ve made a great first step Just by reading this blog! Make sure you keep your skills sharp and stay on top of trends in the professional workplace.

You’ve got this!

Have you successfully made a career change? Tell us your tips in the comments below!

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UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education branch of the University of California, Berkeley. We empower learners to meet educational and career goals.

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UC Berkeley Extension

UC Berkeley Extension

UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education branch of the University of California, Berkeley. We empower learners to meet educational and career goals.

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