By Lesley Mitler
The quarter life crisis is nothing new – I went through it myself many years ago.
For me, it was not a thoughtful, gradual migration to another field. It sounds humorous now – I was fired from a family business with little savings and a story that sounded like it was missing a few chapters. I didn’t even think about finding another accounting job. After four years as a CPA, I knew it wasn’t for me.
Luckily within a few weeks, I secured a position as an executive search consultant, which turned out to be a great fit! I worked in search for more than two decades before migrating to my current role in a closely related field. So if you are in your twenties and contemplating a career change, I would like to offer some advice that could help you make a seamless transition to something you love:
1. Know your skills and strengths. Look at your academic experience, your work experience and your community service/extra-curricular endeavors. Make a list of all the skills you have gained from these various experiences. Make sure to include all core competencies (i.e.: communication, interpersonal, critical thinking) as well as technology and social media proficiencies. Be honest with yourself and make sure you can convince others of your strength in these areas.
2. Make a list of the types of jobs and/or organizations that interest you. The best way to determine if you have the appropriate skills for a different position is to look at job descriptions of positions that appeal to you and see if you have many of the qualifications for the role. For example, I was able to transition from accounting to recruiting because I understood the role of an accountant, which gave me more expertise and leverage as a recruiter of financial talent. Look for those skills that can help you make a logical transition to another type of job.
3. Network. Talk to as many people as you can. Tell them about your skills and strengths. Ask them for advice about the kinds of careers that could be a viable next move.
4. Be open to an entry level role. So I know you may have three to five years of work experience but, if you want to change fields, it might be in your best interest to look at entry level positions. If you try for jobs that are geared toward 3-5 years of experience, you will be at a definite competitive disadvantage. Remember, your work experience and maturity may help you to stand out as a candidate, get promoted at a more accelerated rate, or take on additional responsibilities more quickly.
Let me leave you with one final positive thought. If you are presenting yourself to a potential employer, they might view you as someone who has more maturity than a recent grad. You have tried a different route, which has helped you to assess what you like and don’t like; what you excel at and do well and the type of organization and culture that appeal to you. Your view is more long term – you know that this is a key career decision. And so does your potential employer, which gives them some reason to believe that this shared commitment will be successful for both of you. Don’t settle – work hard to find your passion so you can enjoy and thrive for the rest of your career.
Lesley Mitler is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs. An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Smart Money and dozens of other publications.