career change

Andrew Luck Walked Away From His Dream Career To Pursue A New Path. Can You?

iStockphoto.com |  Yobro10

iStockphoto.com | Yobro10

Life is unpredictable. We set out on our path, carving out a life and career that’s been many years in the planning and execution.

But what happens when it all goes off the rails?

Exhibit 1: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement at the end of August. At the age of 29, the franchise QB with a pretty bright future ahead of him decided to walk away from a massive contract to move onto the next stage of his life – whatever that may be.

To put this into perspective – It’s not unusual for a high-performing quarterback to play into his late 30s or early 40s. Tom Brady is 42, and he’s still starting for the Patriots.

In all likelihood, Luck stepped down less than halfway into his career, and entering his prime earning years. He cited the wear and tear of the never-ending cycle of injury and rehabilitation.

I get it, Andrew Luck isn’t your average Joe – he’s probably sitting on a huge nest egg, and has a bachelor’s degree from Stanford to boot, so he’s not going to starve. And yet, don’t underestimate the life transformation this will cause. He has approximately more than 30 years of productive career time ahead of him, and is basically starting over.

Most of us spend our lives preparing for and pursuing a career path. Consider all the time we invest in making ourselves who we are, between choosing a career path, pursuing a specific college degree (or even a graduate degree), and internships, even before starting in our line of work. The years progress, we build upon that experience, and become specialists in our chosen discipline. Next thing you know, we’re essentially stuck because it’s what we know how to do, and we’re good at it.

People change careers all the time, and injury is just one cause. These can include burnout, promotion, demotion, layoff, job elimination, or relocation. And I’ve encountered countless people (self included) who at some point in their career said they were good at their jobs, but their jobs weren’t good for them.

Being pushed into a career change is scary. For most of us, this frequently involves developing new skills and competencies in order to even think about moving forward toward a new path. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee stays with their employer for 4.2 years. Be prepared for change, whether you’re ready for it or not.

If there’s any lesson to be taken from Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement, it’s best to be proactive in managing your career. That means performing an honest assessment of both your professional landscape, and where you stand in it. Do you enjoy doing what you do? If you do in fact enjoy what you’re doing, can you do it at another company or is your employer the only game in town, so to speak?

If it’s clear that your career is reaching the end of its shelf life, build your exit strategy before you find yourself without options. Decide on a direction with an understanding of what you’d like to do, and what you’d rather avoid.

Research what the marketplace wants and invest in your skills to match it. Create an individual development plan that documents your goals, and how you intend to get there. And most importantly, always be training – any formal training, certification, or program is an asset, and some of what you learn will be transferable skills you will use no matter where you go or what you do. And it may not require going back to school for another degree, as an easy-to acquire certification may do the trick.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Can You Turn That Side Gig Into A Full-Time Career?

iStockphoto.com |  richcarey

iStockphoto.com | richcarey

The routine of most working professionals is to get up, and go to work. But what if your routine is, “Get up, go to work, come home and do a second job you are more passionate about than the job that pays the bills?” What if your routine is a balancing act between what you spend your time doing and what you truly love? Can you turn your “side gig” into a “full-time gig,” and if so, how?

It may be possible to transform your passion into a full-time job. It happens all the time. Here are some important steps to take to determine if such a move will work for you.

PHASE ONE: RESEARCH

Step 1 – Determine your skill level.

This must be an honest assessment. Ask yourself if you have something that the marketplace demands, and for which the market will compensate you enough to make a living.

Here is a perfect real-world example – photography. Our example, Bill, got hooked on underwater photography during his many deep-sea diving excursions around the world. His photos were stunning, looked amazing blown up and framed, and he generated some earnings by selling his work on the side. Could he do this full time?

The professional benchmark for natural photography, undersea or otherwise, is National Geographic. Bill compared his work to what was published in National Geographic, and determined it didn’t quite compare to what he saw. He made a deliberate and honest assessment of his skills vs. the marketplace, and decided that his photography passion should remain a side gig. He is now a PhD in psychology with a thriving private practice.

 

Step 2 – Benchmark the professionals who are successful at what you want to do.

Whatever it is you want to do, there are already many people doing it. Familiarize yourself with their educational and professional backgrounds, identify the professional organizations to which they belong, take note of the broad perspective of their career arcs, and analyze any barriers to entry that may exist.

LinkedIn is a great platform on which to conduct this kind of research. Let’s take a closer look at the “barriers to entry.” A quick LinkedIn search should give you plenty of professionals from whom you can easily deduce vital shared credentials that are common to success.

Take a look at, for example, consulting vs. graphic design. Consulting full-time may require much more applied experience than a full-time job in graphic design, but graphic design requires specific degrees and knowledge of industry standard design platforms. So, for the individual without a visual arts education but a deep business background, the graphics field may have more barriers to entry than consulting in the form of going back to school.

 

Step 3 – Conduct a cost/benefit analysis.

Take a look at your current finances. If you live paycheck-to-paycheck, your strategy to transition a side-gig into a full-time one is going to be more challenging than someone who has a year’s salary saved up as a cushion.

Research salaries related to your side gig vs. what your current position pays vs. your baseline life expenses (e.g. rent/mortgage, health care, car, insurance, etc.). Determine how a move will impact your financial status and stability. Create as full of a portrait of your financial landscape as possible, including potential changes to your tax liabilities.

 

Step 4 – Determine your Happiness Factor.

Now you must ask yourself the most important question of all (and YOU are the only person who knows the answer!): Will you be happy doing your side gig on a full-time basis? The work you do as a hobby may not be so rewarding when you are doing it day-in, day-out and your livelihood depends upon it.

And there are psychological risks associated with turning your passion into full-time work. You must now trade the freedom of approaching your side gig in whatever manner you choose to conform with the realities of the marketplace. Being self-employed or freelance carries demands that are very different than those you face working for a company. Now you must be three people: the CEO of your business, the head of sales marketing (the market can’t compensate you if it doesn’t know you are there), and the full-time employee who does the actual work.

 

PHASE TWO: MAKE THE MOVE

You’ve decided to make the move. But how? What is the best way to go about it? Your primary options are, 1) Baby Steps, or 2) Full-throttle.

 

Option 1 – Baby Steps

Taking baby steps means slowly building up your side gig and gradually transitioning it into a full-time operation when financially and professionally appropriate.

There are many advantages to this approach. It may minimize the financial impact of the move, it allows you more space to make rookie mistakes and adjust your methods as necessary, and gives you more pathways to grow and develop like apprenticeships, internships (apprenticeships for students), or even part-time/contract jobs.

Disadvantages to the Baby Steps approach include carving out the needed time to be a success while treating your endeavor like a legitimate full-time business, maintaining a level of professionalism that separates work from a hobby, and measuring your happiness factor with only one foot in the water.

 

Option 2 – Full Throttle

If you are the type of person who believes in bold moves, then you may decide to go full-throttle, which is pretty self-explanatory.

This approach is more dramatic, carries more risk, will have a greater and more immediate impact on your finances, and requires you to build a business from scratch. A business with one employee is still a business, and its success requires a whole different skill set than the skills you need to perform the actual work, which must already be of a professional quality and service level the market demands.

That said, dropping everything to fully commit to a new endeavor can be a challenging and exhilarating experience. You may make a few more mistakes, and you may hit some extra bumps along the way, but an immersive and aggressive learning-by-doing approach may accelerate your professional standing and turn your passion into a successful full-time career.


Philip Roufail contributed to this article.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

How To Fill A Gap In Your Resume

iStockphoto.com |  JJPan

iStockphoto.com | JJPan

 

Whether it's due to corporate layoffs, family leave, or whatever reason, you may find yourself between jobs. It’s not unusual. But this does provide job seekers with a noticeable gap in employment.

In employers’ terms, that time is unaccounted for. If you send your resume to an employer without providing any context, the recruiter or hiring manager is left to his or her own imagination to deduce how you’re spending your working hours. For all they know, you're sitting on the couch eating bonbons and watching Gilligan's Island reruns.

The point here is not to advise you how to hide such gaps on your resume. Rather, how do you really use that time effectively so that you don't have a hole?

  • Devote a portion of every day to the job hunt. Block out time on your calendar when you will check job listings, apply to jobs, send out resumes, reach out to your LinkedIn network, attend professional events, and so forth. Routine will reinforce in your mind that searching for a job is a job in itself. Consider dressing in business attire to help establish the proper mindset.
     
  • Keep busy with temporary or part-time work. I used to work in recruitment, and I once left a  position without another job in hand (the position and I were a poor fit for each other). Through my network, I came across a part-time opportunity with a staffing firm. We were able to negotiate a flexible work schedule which allowed me to interview for full-time jobs on an as-needed basis. At the same time, I kept my skills sharp. And after the ego hit of being unemployed, I was able to rebuild my confidence and demonstrate to potential employers that my skills and I were valued and still in demand.
     
  • Volunteer. Do you have a favorite cause? Skills you can share? Consider volunteering with a charitable cause close to your heart. In the nonprofit world dollars are tight, and giving freely of your time a few hours a week can ease a substantial burden. In addition to generating some positive karma in your account, you can pick and choose type of work you wish to do and how contribute your talents. Are you an accountant and your church needs help installing QuickBooks? Perhaps the local food pantry need help boxing meals. Or maybe can you provide assistance in another area of  expertise?

Maybe the hole in your resume is in your past; try to think back of how you spent that time. If you used it working in an unrelated field or volunteering, account for that time on your resume as well.

Oh - in case you were wondering, full-time parenting counts as work. Take your credit where it's due.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.