An executive coach who's helped many people change careers gave them all the same piece of advice
- During a job search, it's best to focus on changing either industry or function. Don't look to switch both at the same time.
- That's according to Erica Keswin, a workplace strategist and former executive coach at New York University.
- Keswin also recommends mapping out the skills you can transfer from your current gig to your new one.
As an executive coach at New York University's Stern School of Business, much of Erica Keswin's day-to-day involved dealing with clients who wanted to make a career change.
Maybe they'd grown bored; maybe they thought they'd stagnated; maybe they felt their true calling was elsewhere.
To all of those clients, Keswin, who is a workplace strategist and the author of the forthcoming book "Bring Your Human to Work," gave the same piece of advice, which she shared on a call with Business Insider: "It's very difficult to change industry and function at the same time."
Yet too many people get overeager and want to do a total 180-degree turn when making a career transition.
For example, say you currently hold a finance role in the fashion industry. Keswin recommends that you consider either staying in fashion and moving to the role you'd prefer or staying in a finance role and moving to the industry you'd prefer. Once you have some experience with either a new role or new industry, you can think about making a bigger switch.
Keswin also led many coaching clients through an exercise in which they mapped their transferable skills.
"These are some jobs that I'd be interested in; this is what I used to do," Keswin said. "On paper, [the new job] looks nothing like [my old job]. But when I really peel back the layers, it's clear that I have many of the skills that would enable me to do [the new job]."
It all comes down to being patient, cautious, and thoughtful — traits that, admittedly, aren't so easy to display when you're fed up with your current job.
Indeed, career coach and former Googler Jenny Blake guides clients through a four-step process when they're making a career change, whether that's moving into a new role at their company or launching a startup. The first step involves figuring out what's working well in their current career stage and how they can leverage that.
Narrow down your options to three new opportunities
Once Keswin's clients completed the mapping exercise and pinpointed some potential new gigs that wouldn't look too dissimilar from their old role, Keswin would advise them to narrow down their options to three opportunities.
That's because, she added, "most people that I work with end up getting that first interview or that next opportunity through some type of relationship that they have built," and not through submitting their resume online.
So you'll want to invest the appropriate amount of time and energy in forging those relationships — think reaching out to former colleagues or classmates. "You can't really go deep enough to make traction if you're looking at any more than three opportunities," Keswin said.
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