4 Things to Do (and Not Do) When You Want to Switch Careers

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Updated on Thursday, February 11, 2016

4 Things to Do (and Not Do) When You Want to Switch Careers

If you’ve been feeling uninspired or unappreciated in your current job for a while now, it could be time to start thinking about looking for a new one. Whether you’re interested in a new gig within the same industry or something that’s unlike anything you’ve ever actually done before, every job searcher should have a couple things in order before even beginning a new job search.

We checked in with some experts to find out what the most important things are to have on hand and in place before throwing your hat in the ring for a new job.

1. Put some numbers behind your experience

An updated resume is a given for someone who’s looking for a new job. In order to give your resume a laser focus that’s sure to grab the attention of your next boss, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions. For example, consider how well you did your current responsibilities, and how your work contributed to the benefit of your employer. “Try to use numbers and percentages to quantify your results,” says Jane Roqueplot, owner and director of JaneCo’s Sensible Solutions, a national career advancement firm.

On top of your paper resume, Susan P. Joyce, president of NETability, Inc., a training, consulting and development company, and publisher/editor of Job-Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com, reminds you that in this digital age it’s equally as important to also bring your LinkedIn profile up-to-date, but to do so gradually, in case someone from your current job might be paying attention. “Be sure it is labeled as ‘All Star’ [within the sites own rating system], complete with a picture,” she suggested.

2. Get the word out

While it’s obviously not a good idea to ask your current boss if she’s heard of any interesting openings lately (unless you have that kind of relationship, of course), if you’re in the market for a new job, it’s best to dust off your networking skills. Let trusted people know that you’re putting together your professional portfolio, and tell your references that you would like to list as points of contact. “There’s real value in asking for help from others about what they know,” says Roqueplot. “In fact, asking others for information is networking. Ask for informational interviews to demonstrate you have an active interest in your own success, and show up well researched. Talk with others about what they know about their own jobs … you never know who might be acquainted with someone who is looking for someone with your qualifications.”

3. Be humble

As you’re going through the process of your job search, it might be all you can do to keep your mouth shut from your closest colleagues to brag about all the wonderful opportunities you’re coming across — but you should. “Looking for a career change is not the time to brag to your boss, or even your co-workers, about your decision to leave, your goal and thoughtful transition plan,” says Roqueplot. Joyce agrees, and suggests putting off any and all job searching during the hours when you’re at your current job. “Employers can easily monitor employee use of technology — computer, the Internet, the company WiFi, etc. — while they are simply managing the company network, so do your job search using your own computer or smart phone.” Using discretion during the whole process will also eliminate unwanted stress from your current job and will keep you from putting yourself in jeopardy until you’re ready to submit your appropriate notice.

4. Work on your flexibility

Starting a new job is always stressful, and the more you can prepare for this huge change ahead of time, the better your first impression will be after you get your dream job. “Prepare to develop new habits,” says Roqueplot. “All companies have their own acronyms and systems that can make you feel like you’re on the outside looking in when you enter the door. In any job there will be things you don’t know, but don’t shy away from these. Mistakes lead to experience, experience leads to wisdom and wisdom leads to instinctive behaviors.”

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