You might be thinking, “I’m a former professional athlete. I’ve transitioned before, I can do it again.” Maybe you think it will be easy, but career change is difficult and the older you get the more difficult it becomes. You have more must-haves, expenses and experience. The key is to utilize your core skills and competencies. You do not want to have to start over in an entry-level position and you don’t have to. You have many resources to help you throughout the career change process. Your AthLife advisor is only one of those resources.
Here are three examples of conversations with people who can assist you before and during the career change:
Talk to someone who has the job or job title you hope to have. Ask them questions about the required skills, what are their daily responsibilities and if they enjoy the work. If you do not know anyone with those responsibilities or job title, take time to utilize your network to investigate and find someone. Use Linkedin and if you are not connected, perhaps you can request an introduction through a mutual connection. Please do not forget about your alumni network. If you are having difficulty, take a step back and find some alternative job titles using the O-Net.
Find someone you feel is successful who has followed a non-traditional career path. Your path to become a professional athlete was pretty straight. Excel at the high school level, become a top level recruit, excel in college, get drafted/sign as a free-agent. There are few exceptions. Many occupations don’t require such a linear approach. Speaking with someone who has jumped ship and found a way to swim should be your next call. Finding a successful career changer will help you ask yourself critical questions and open up your eyes to potential pitfalls and opportunities.
Talk to someone who knows you well and can provide honest feedback. Added bonus is if this person is in an industry outside of the one you are currently working. When you are not happy with your role at work, it can leave you feeling that the grass is greener on the other side. That might not be the case. People leave jobs for many reasons. Perhaps you are making the move because you are not feeling that you can reach your potential, or are you feeling unfulfilled? Are you looking for a role where you can feel a piece of the passion that you once felt as an athlete? Having candid conversations with this person is an important step in the career change process.
These three conversations will help you gather information to understand different jobs and industries as well as potential paths for a career transition. However, before you take a big step like changing careers, it’s a good idea to speak with human resources or your boss. Perhaps there are things they can do to help your use your best skills and reach your full potential. Look for steps you can take that do not require a 180 degree shift in your career all at once. Consider an in-between jump that will set you up for that next role.
Speak with your AthLife advisor for help navigating a career change. This tip was inspired by this Forbes article.