Johana was in her mid-40 and she worked in the same company for many years. She was content with her job. She was there for a very long time. Another good thing for her was the steady pay she received and had a job security. Those things were very important to her and her family. 

However, there was a lot of stress in her workplace. Each day she grew tired of her ungrateful colleagues and the fact that everyone including her boss took her for granted. She planned to stay in the company, because it was a secure position. But after many years, she felt it was time to leave the comfort zone and the safety! It was time to move to a different career. She went to her boss with a slight fire in her eyes; at that point the decision was simple. She realized something; she had the power to fulfill her dream and to quiet her secure job, something she desired for ages; That was the day she gave her resignation.

Career changes can be difficult for many people after their 30s. But the change doesn’t have to be so devastating to us.

In this article you will learn about the two big kryptonite that prevent us from having the desired career change?

Self-image

If you had ever been to a networking event or met a new person recently, there is one very common question everyone will ask you.

I assume you got it right, the question is “What do you do?”.

This question is extremely habitual, and we asked it right after we learn someone’s name. That is how we are wired! People know more about us, by knowing what we do and assume what kind of person we are. If you don’t agree with that imagine an accountant. What are the characteristics, a person who work accounting must have?

Many people are a victim of that trap. Which prevents them to make the career shift even if they really want to, because they identify themselves with the company they work for or with the position they currently held.

Your self-image is the result of all you have given your subconscious mind as a database, so regardless of your background, what you are willing to become is the only reality that counts.

–Paul J. Meyer

Society expectation!

Obstacle number two is related to expectations. All our friends and family know what we do and they are comfortable with that. (usually 🙂 )

However, career change which is considered as something normal for people in their 20s, and is a “no, no”, for someone in their mid-30s or later.

Your friends and family loves you and care about you. They will see such change not as an opportunity for you to do something you love, but as a gigantic risk that could lead to disastrous consequences.

I hope until now you are still okay with the sacrifice you must go with to change your career. For example, constantly explaining to your friends and family why you are doing what you are doing. Not being able to use the same title and the same position when you introduce yourself to a stranger, and many other activities related to your current society status. If this is the case, now it’s time to turn yourself into a superhero! The first step is self-assessment.

Build your origin story!

Every superhero has an origin story. And funny enough, the origin story is created by the authors of the comics only after the hero become famous. There is one interesting exercise you can do, it is called “Build your origin story”.

Ask yourself the following question:  “Where am I in life now? What works for me and what not?”

Asking yourself this question can lead to huge insights. Yes, it’s true that you may hate your current job, but I am sure there was at least one positive thing about it. Think about why they pay you for what you did? What were the skill set you contribute to the overall work that needed to be done. Is there something you did better then others, or you enjoyed doing it, while other hated it?

Assessing your current situation, skills and preferences, will help you in building a better picture, what you would like your future career to look like.

What are you fighting for?

The superheroes have something that they are fighting for, a call or a mission.

Ask yourself: “What is my mission in life?”

It’s hard to land to the right career! if you don’t know what would you like to work on and what problem you would like to solve. Many people know what they don’t want in their future career, but few people know what exactly do they want.

That’s the reason why answering this question is so crucial. And this answer can develop over time. Don’t stress yourself if you don’t know the answer to it at this particular moment.

Look for sidekicks and other superheroes!

The superheros are never alone; they are surrounded by helpers and other superheroes who support them throughout their journey.

Do you know someone who already has your dream career?

In that case, call them and set a meeting to learn more about what skills are needed and how you can “train” yourself for this possible career shift.

Another option is to be part of an on-line community dedicated to that particular career and openly ask questions for something you don’t understand.

People in general can be super helpful if you have the right attitude.

Market yourself!

We all know the sentence ”This looks like a job for Superman!”

After knowing your origin story and then exploring what you are fighting for. It’s now time for the easiest and hardest thing to do, you have to promote yourself to the right people. If you had gained new skills for the desired career change, don’t hesitate to mention it to your friends and your network. Show them that you are the right person to for the job.

Many companies provide to their employee with referral programs to encourage them to attract the right talents.

By promoting yourself using your network, you are helping your network to find the right people as well. And the employees usually receive a hefty bonus for their initiative after the probation period is over.

Summary

The longer we stay in one position or company, the harder it is to make a career change. Sometimes this is the only way to go forward and finally start living our life to the fullest. Supporting network can play a crucial role for the success of this process, because the things that prevent us of doing this change in the first place are our own self-image and other people’s opinions.

Another approach you could go for is having a coach who can support you in a non-judgemental way, giving you space to complete the process and accountability for its success.

The first step is to know what we are good at and what we like to do and then to know what problems we want to solve.

After we know the answers of both questions, then we need to market ourselves and help not only us, but our network in finding the right person for the job.

And remember, next time that you speak with your network and they are complaining they can’t find the person for the job (which is what you want to do). don’t hesitate to say: ”This looks like a job for me!”

I wish you a happy career shifting, my superheros!

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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