Shape-shifting. As I took a step back from a recent conversation about re-careering, it occurred to me that shape shifting is what it was all about. Called by any other name, whether re-branding, remaking the self, re-imaging or re-careering it is an attempt to make some kind of change in an area of life and some changes are more challenging than others. Taking a position slightly higher than the one previously held or a taking a position which is a lateral move is not a difficult dance; just a two-step or a dos-y-dos at best.
Moving to a different position within the same career field or into an associated field (uses the same skill sets differently ) is a more energetic swing about. Ex: education to social work in learning pathologies. A little added education might complete this kind of move: a few steps facing backwards, then facing forward again, going in a similar direction.
The last kind of move–from one field into an entirely different field–is the hardest move of all to pull off. This demands a shape shift and that is in the realm of myth and magic! We have discussed in the earliest pages of this blog that potential employers do not like to deal with career virgins or career changers. They like the tried and true–preferring that some other slob works the bugs out before the new employee lands in their companies. As I understand from a seminar I recently attended, among the things potential employers are not too thrilled about doing are taking a gamble that the new employee “egg” they are agreeing to sit on is a creature with wings (flight risk. Will be gone at first good opportunity) or that they will have to take the time to train a new sorcerer (brand-spanking new to the field at bottom of learning curve ).
The reality of a career shape shift is that it will take time. It means gaining both the skills and the 3-5 years of experience many jobs state in their descriptions as required. Until these essential element are in place, the new career might not be directly assessable. As for job-hunting, forget about the job boards completely and lean hard upon networking into an unconventional entry portal. You actually have to have an advocate (an ally in networkers’ terms) who is willing to use an influential relationship with a powerful friend on your behalf.
That said, it is time to go on to the necessity of plotting a course of making small steps toward the new career. Making these small steps takes time. We very well are talking about a few years here so it will also require some hard-headed planning. At times, it might even look rather cold-blooded. Nice. The new shape is reptilian–a flying dragon perhaps. How does the gypsy woman know? She is actually doing it! For the not-so-young anymore this is something that has to be dealt with on the front end with some real soul-searching and reality checking. It means finding creative ways to have a positive cash flow for an extended period. It means always being on the lookout for opportunities to make a leap ahead in the process. It means keeping watch over the judicious use of energy as well with frequent restoration points so that the process will not cause physical and emotional burn out.
Hey! This is not only a dance, career changing is alchemy!