When it’s time for a career change, whether you are looking for a higher-paying job or exploring new opportunities, it’s important to take a moment to identify your strengths so that you can best position yourself if you would like try to break into a new industry / field. Okay, this process might take more than a moment! Many professionals who excel in their work have trouble putting their finger on exactly why they succeed—what skills and personal qualities actually enable that success. The ability to identify those strengths, and highlight them, will make your career change much, much smoother.
Finding your strengths
You may already have a sense of what you’re best at, but if that self-knowledge is failing you, there are a few other sources to tap into:
- Your most recent performance reviews: if your supervisor did a good job, these should point you in the right direction.
- Your colleagues: you can either ask them outright what they believe your strengths are, or you can think back to the last few times a colleague asked you for help—what did they ask you for help with? Why did they come to you?
- Mentees or junior associates you have trained: what did you train them on? What areas were you most comfortable passing on knowledge in? These might indicate your strengths.
What sparks joy?
As the wise and adorable tidying guru Marie Kondo has said, only that which “sparks joy” deserves a place in your closet. This applies to your work too! Figuring out what makes you happy will be a really strong indicator of where your strengths lie. Most of us enjoy doing things we are good at—so identifying what you look forward to in your work will point you in the right direction. This will probably lead you to a list of certain tasks or projects within your job, and you’ll need to dig a little deeper to figure out what common strength underlies those tasks. What is required to complete those things, and to complete them well? What strengths does that require in you?
Which strengths matter?
Once you have taken the time to identify your strengths—and if you did yourself justice that list should be quite long—you need to figure out which of those strengths matter as you make the case for a career switch. This will vary greatly depending on just how vast the difference between your current and desired career track is, but no matter how different there will be transferable skills. These might include:
- Initiative and self-motivation
- Quick-learner (a no-brainer when you are trying to learn the ropes of a whole new career track)
- Communication (verbal, written, and listening skills—important anywhere you go)
- Ability to work well with a team (do you play well with others?)
- Organizational ability and good time management
- Coachability (often overlooked, but the ability to take and implement feedback is a great indicator of a successful career-switch candidate)There are many other near-universal strengths beyond this list, but this should give you a jump start thinking about what your key transferable skills are.
Do you need to build skills first?
You may feel that even though you have a good cache of transferable strengths, you are still missing core skills and knowledge that will enable you to make the switch. This is where further education may play a key role in helping you make that move. If you know that there are skills, knowledge, or professional assets that will absolutely be required of you in your target career, and you don’t yet have them, getting a master’s degree may be the right move.
There are almost endless options out there these days—from traditional one or two-year programs to flexible evening courses, to online or partially online programs—so there is certainly a good match for you and your needs out there. Finding it, however, can feel utterly overwhelming. Enter, admissions consulting. Hiring an admissions consultant can be a big help in your career switch process—not only will they give you the lay of the land in terms of the programs out there that fit your needs, but they can help you identify your strengths and make a strong case for your career switch, empowering you to succeed well beyond the admissions process.