You might be considering a career change for a long list of reasons. Maybe you fell into a career path and found that it didn’t quite suit you. Perhaps you’ve been in the same position for a while, and you need new challenges. You might even be approaching burnout or having stress-related health issues.
Career changes are becoming more common, partially because the speed of technology — and, therefore, business — is increasing. Whatever your reason, here are four common mistakes to avoid if you’re thinking about making a career change.
1. Ignoring your network
Companies know an employee referral is one of the most reliable ways to find a new employee. In fact, referrals account for only 7 percent of applications, but up to 40 percent of new hires. If you’re considering a career move, your professional network is one of the first places you should turn.
Be sure to stay engaged with your network on a regular basis. Many job openings are never posted because people involved in the hiring process already have candidates in mind. Be the one who comes to mind by nurturing relationships with those who may be able to connect you with opportunities in the future. Just remember: The first rule of networking is to reciprocate. Build others up; when the time comes, doors will open for you.
Another thing: Don’t limit your networking to one platform. While LinkedIn is still the most widely used, alternatives can provide different strategies for creating connections. Networking app LetsLunch, for instance, helps you find interesting professionals to meet with over coffee, lunch, or drinks, based on your calendar, interests, and goals. Here are a few other Linkedin tips to help.
2. Pursuing opportunities based on salary alone
All opportunities aren’t created equal. Top talent is in high demand, especially in the tech world. In the most sought-after fields, messages from recruiters pour in by the day. The number of open doors can be overwhelming, and there’s often very little information to go on. It takes significant time and energy to truly evaluate an opportunity.
That’s why many people start with salary and job requirements. Certainly, it’s important to have an idea about these before moving forward, but don’t stop there. Making decisions based only on these basics is a mistake. To find a career move that will truly make you happy, you should consider opportunities that are a holistic match with your goals.
How do you know which opportunity will truly make you happy? Companies are starting to recognize and address this challenge. Stellares, for example, is a deep-tech talent acquisition platform that harnesses the power of AI to help you find opportunities that match your learning goals, work-life preferences, and passions. This approach really works; tech talent using Stellares decide to pursue 42 percent of the opportunities the platform matches them with — an impressive number compared to the 12 percent conversion rate of the average career site. If you’re inundated with potential paths and lost on where to start, try uncovering what’s really important to you with the help of AI.
3. Considering only big-name companies
In some industries, landing a job at a top company seems like the holy grail of career advancement. But having Google or Apple on your resume isn’t the only way to stand out. Depending on your goals, this kind of tunnel vision could help you stay focused — or it could be seriously detrimental.
Working for a tech giant and working for a small startup will challenge you in different ways. What kind of growth are you looking to achieve? Getting in on the ground floor of an innovative company can be a unique experience that serves you well in your career. You’ll likely have more flexibility, autonomy, and chances to make a palpable impact. However, a large company will allow you to specialize and may have more internal opportunities for advancement. These differences indicate why it’s important to have a holistic idea of what you want out of your career.
4. Failing to connect the dots for employers
You’ve tapped your network, narrowed your options, and found an opportunity that will help you grow and fits your goals and passions. Even if you’re confident that you’ll be great in a position, don’t assume that your experience speaks for itself — or that your one-size-fits-all resume will score you an interview.
With more than 75 percent of large companies using an applicant tracking system as a first step, you need to make sure your resume is tailored to the specific position you’re applying for if you want to make it past automated gatekeepers. Sound time-consuming? Utilize tools like Jobscan’s Power Edit, which leverages AI and machine learning to help you dynamically update important skills and keywords missing from your resume based on the job description of your desired position. Continue the theme in your cover letter, spelling out why you’re a great fit and how you’re different from other candidates.
When you’re invited in for an interview, be prepared to carry that connection through the process. Don’t be afraid to showcase what makes you stand out in the applicant pool, whether it’s a unique skill or a surprising job in your history. Be sure to circle back and clarify how these differentiators enable you to bring unique value to the company.
Put it into practice
Navigating a career change can be tricky, especially if you’ve been in the same position for several years. However, changing things up can bring new experiences — and even new meaning — into your life. If you’re considering a significant move, the key is to spend some time really evaluating what you hope to gain in the process. Talking with mentors, doing your research, and using new technologies like AI can help you figure it out.