Considering looking for a job in a new field? Your first step to a career change might be staying put.
Breaking into a new field with little to no experience can be tough. Many job seekers—particularly those who’ve been highly successful in their current careers—underestimate how long a career transition can take. In many cases, the best move toward a new career is to grab or carve out a new role at your current company.
It’s no secret that most employers would rather move their existing people around than lose them or bring on new people to fill open positions. In fact, according to a recent study by CareerXroads, current employees fill 42% of all job openings. If you’re changing companies and changing careers, you’ve got two strikes against you. Internal candidates will always get preference, then external ones with experience. You, my friend, will land near the bottom of the pile.
At your current company, you’re a known asset. You’ve proven you’re a capable employee. You’ve created relationships. You have credibility. If there is a job opening, you go to the top of the pile, even with limited experience. You’re still a risk, but you’re actually less risky than that unknown external employee.
And if the kind of role you want to move into doesn’t exist—perhaps your company is too small or you’re looking at a very different field, your current employer can still provide ample opportunity for career exploration. Taking on new projects in your existing role that allow you to get a taste of that other career with little to no risk.
Recently, I had a client who was working in payroll but interested in writing as a future career path. In his current role, he was able to take on a variety of writing tasks that helped hone his skill, focus his interests, and build a hefty portfolio of writing samples in the process. He’ll still have to leave the company to really pursue his dream, but now he’ll appear much more committed, and less risky, to hiring managers.
One of my other clients is glad she didn’t move too quickly from her job as an executive assistant into event planning. She expected to love it, but after asking to take the lead in planning several large-scale events for her company, she discovered it wasn’t for her.
In both cases, the person got to explore a new role without losing the security of their existing one.
When you’re making a career transition, look to your current employer first for opportunities to test yourself and the role before starting a job search. Being sure of what you want and can do will make your next employer more sure about you.