Thursday, 3 January 2013

Jumping Ship: Switching Careers

Remember when you started your career and you were super-excited about all the things you could accomplish? You had lists of goals, creative ideas, and enthusiasm. Over time, you may have found that the industry you work in, or the management team you work for, have slowly chipped away at all of that excitement and now every day is just a struggle not to slit your own wrists. It may be time for a career shift (or medication).

If you started in Human Resources like I did, you may have found that your position had significantly less “strategic consulting” and a lot more “glorified secretary” work. You also probably noticed that there was so much process and red tape, that anything new or innovative you came up with won’t be implemented for years, and by then it will be outdated.

Don’t’ get discouraged. Basically, you played Russian roulette with the career revolver and lost. Luckily, the consequences are less brain-spattery than actual Russian roulette and you can bounce back a lot faster.

Step 1 – Don’t quit your day job

The economy still sucks.  You need money. Food and shelter are still very important components of staying alive. You may not have any experience in this new industry you’re entering. Keeping your day job and testing the new industry in your spare time is an excellent way to not make the same mistake twice. Also, people will want to see proof that you know what you’re doing before they hire you. It’s a weird thing companies are doing now.

Step 2 – Start doing what you love

Just start doing it. If you want to be an events planner, start small. Host a dinner party. People will give you feedback on how terrible you are, and you can see if it is something you want to do full time. You can take on additional, larger events as opportunities arise. Once you develop a reputation, people will start asking you to do it, and maybe even pay you! …unless you suck…in which case, you still have your day job.

Step 3 – Advertise

Keep a portfolio of the new projects you’re working on. You don’t have to spend money on advertising. Post your portfolio on LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogger or any relevant account where your target audience would be.

Step 4 – Network

Develop a list of relevant people to follow and engage with online and learn how to do it properly. Think about where your target customer/employer will see you and who they engage with. If you would like to become an event planner, you should be interacting with companies that plan events, the events themselves (which will normally have their own social media accounts or at least a Facebook event) , and anyone else who is interested in what you’re doing. The more people sharing pictures of your place settings on Pinterest, or talking about you on Twitter, the better.

This gives you an opportunity to test out a new job risk-free. It’s like an internship, but more impressive because of the entrepreneurial aspect of having to create the opportunity yourself. After a while, you’ll have developed enough experience to make yourself a marketable employee in a completely new industry. …or you’ll have realized this job isn’t for you, but without getting all wrist-cutty. 


  1. Thanks Scott, very good read & sound advice for switching careers. Touched close to home - switched from Science field to event planning LOL!

  2. Yes, I was always very envious of you for that. Would you be interested in being interviewed for a post on how you made the change?

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