Are you considering switching your career, or does it feel like your career path is slowly leading you to a dead-end? We have all been in that position, or at least most of us have. About four years ago, I was considering switching from a developer to a product manager. Growing up, I always wanted to be a developer, and I was super excited when I landed my first developer job. But after spending four years, I learned more about the industry, and I changed my mind. I lost almost all my interest as a developer and wanted to take up product management.
I am not sure if a lot of you will be in the same situation as me, but I am sure many of us have considered switching their careers. Here are some things to consider before you make that big switch.
1: Always look into the job market
If you are already working in a company and see there is a need or a job opening for the new role you are interested in, consider doing a quick search on websites like Glassdoor. Understanding what the market out there is crucial because you don’t want to step into a role that has no demand in case you want to switch companies. If you happen to get into a position that becomes obsolete, so does all your experience. One of the best things to do in a situation like this would be to talk to your HR and ask them if you are the right candidate.
2: Make sure if you will enjoy the new role more than your current job
Some times what your friends or colleagues are doing might seem enticing at a given moment. Until you take up that role, you will not know what it entitles. If you feel like you will continue to enjoy your current position in the long run, then maybe the switch isn’t for you. A career switch looks good on your resume as you bring in a new perspective to the job. But if you don’t enjoy what you do, then it becomes worthless as your attitude starts to change. Take a few moments and think if you see yourself growing in the new position.
3: Clear understanding of what the new role is
Once you know what career path you want to get into, try and understand what the responsibilities of this new role are. Understanding the position gives you the ability to apply to different companies and maybe even get better pay. A few places to research about the responsibilities of a new role would be to read the most popular books for the industry, watch a few videos, read through job descriptions, and see if any certifications could help you. It is always good to know what you are getting into instead of regretting later.
4: Do not forget your current skills
One of the most important things to remember, and I wish someone had told me about before I made the switch is not to forget programming in my case. When I took up product management, I was a hundred percent certain that I would never look back and write code. Today, when I want to build my website, I find it easier to pay someone to do it for me instead of coding it myself. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to pick up some new languages. I am currently spending numerous hours trying to learn a new programming language. If only someone had told me not to forget my past skills, I would have saved so much time. When making a career switch, it is essential to remember what you currently do because in case you don’t enjoy the role as much as you imagined you would. You need to be able to take a step back and replan.
5: Talk to some people already working the job
The best way to learn about anything is by talking to people who are already working in that position. Spend a few days reaching out to people on LinkedIn or even your friends, so you get a better understanding of the job. Talking to people can be very beneficial. They can share some insights about the different tools they use, interview questions, work culture, and more. One possible way to get started is by reaching out to hiring managers or recruiters. The usual norm is recruiters help you find a job, but only a recruiter knows about the various roles and duties of a position are.
6: Learn the tools and identify the ones you like
Usually, a career switch means new tools, new people, and new responsibilities. Spend some time learning about the tools used in the new role. Understanding the mechanisms will give you an upper hand in interviews and the position. A right candidate is one who can save companies resources by already being prepared. For example, in my case, I already knew about a lot of product management tools like Jira and Trello only because I played around with them before making the decision I didn’t want to be a developer anymore.
7: Experiment with the role in your spare time
When I was a developer, I started doing some freelance work on the side. By taking up freelance work, I was able to talk to the clients a lot more, and this helped me grasp the essential skill for being a product manager. When you are considering a switch, try and experiment with what it feels like in this new position. There are tons of benefits; you will understand what the day to day looks like; you will have a better understanding of what tools you will need, and lastly, you could make some cash on the side.
Career switch can be a scary thing, but by preparing for it, you can make things easier. After all, Benjamin Franklin said it best “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”