How to hustle your way through a career change
I know, because I learned the hard way. Two years ago, I was a junior lawyer at a big law firm. Like all lawyers, I’d done the hard yards at University, before landing a grad job and completing my legal practice course.
On paper, my career was great. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had made the wrong choice. When I voiced my concerns and frustration, everyone shook their head and told me to find another course at University… and start all over again with a career change.
After five (expensive!) years at University, before finally getting my start in the corporate world, starting all over again simply wasn’t going to cut it.
1. Start your career change by working out where you are
While it might sound obvious, working out your personal mission statement is a hugely grounding experience.
When I first started my career change journey, I was randomly emailing everyone who I thought could help, going to every event possible and signing up to free e-courses left, right and centre. It wasn’t long before I had so many balls in the air it was overwhelming: I couldn’t work out what I wanted to do through all the stress and clutter!
Start by writing down your values and the things that make you excited to get out of bed in the morning. Think about the things you are complimented on, and the favourite aspects of your job – the skills that you think are transferrable. Take the time to explore this, and build it out into your personal mission statement that will help guide you through your career change.
2. Build and connect with your networks
While it might seem obvious, building strong networks will form the foundation for your career change hustle. A huge number of jobs these days are snapped up through networks and referrals, so you need to make sure you are front of mind… with the right people!
When I started my career change journey, I very quickly had a nasty realisation: my networks were limited… and they were all in the law.
If you have to start from scratch too, the first thing to learn is: don’t be afraid to ask for help. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Start reaching out to people on and offline. If you head to an event, take the time to introduce yourself to the speaker and find other like-minded people in the room. If you read an article that resonates with you, why not reach out to the author?
Chances are, if you are changing careers and building your networks in a different industry, people will be interested in what you are doing. Who knows, you might even be able to offer them some value too? I quickly worked out that the most valuable events for me were the ones where I was the only lawyer in the room. As Seth Godin says, be the Purple Cow.
And don’t forget, networking isn’t limited to face-to-face encounters. Make sure your social media accounts are up to date and reflect your personal and professional brand and get networking online too!
3. Upskill in every way possible
One of my favourite sayings is:
Opportunity + Preparation = Luck
A successful hustle requires educating yourself and preparing in every way possible. Instead of an expensive degree, find ways to upskill by connecting with leaders in your target industry and starting a conversation. Find night or lunchtime events or a relevant part time course. Read books – from self-education to relevant texts on your industry – and share what you have learned.
Networking events are more than a chance to mingle and nibble on canapés. I joined Meetup Groups, attended events, classes, lectures you name it, I was there! I learned a bit of code at lunch, after work I would be at Meetups talking about social media, or a panel discussion about content marketing.
My tip is to look for free events with great speakers to open your mind up to different ideas and possibilities. Great speakers are looking to raise their profile and share their knowledge, and will often be found at Meetups and places like General Assembly, and co-working spaces. Jump online and check out the big co-working spaces in your city, keep an eye out for events on Facebook and even try the search functions on Eventbrite.
Finally, don’t discount free courses available online. Try Googling MOOCs (massive open online courses) to find courses in your relevant discipline. Some of the materials available for free online these days are incredible, and will help you build skills for your hustle. While you are at it, don’t forget to check out Aquent’s Gymnasium MOOC.
4. Focus on your story
As you go through your hustle, you will find yourself on your own unique journey. And you know what, people will buy into your story – and connect with you.
Whatever makes up your story, whether its extracurricular activities, travel adventures, baby breaks or simply meddling your way through, it all adds up to make you an interesting and diverse person with something unique to offer in your new career.
So don’t forget to embrace what makes you, uniquely you. And if you want to take it one step further, using a blog or social media to tell your story is another way to set you apart.
Finally, good luck! And trust me, no matter what happens, your hustle will be worth it.Back