By Karyn Mullins
Making a career change is stressful, especially if you’re jumping into a completely different industry you know little about. However, it’s very common nowadays, especially with the current generation of young professionals.
Let’s say you want to get out of your cubicle job and pursue your passion. Your journey needs a destination, so you should first set a specific goal. What role do you want? Where do you want to grow? These are important questions to ask yourself before you dive in. Once you have a clear objective, you are ready to take your first steps.
This is how you kick off your successful career change:
Find Transferrable Skills
So once you find your ideal role, you can prepare to take the plunge. Say you always loved sports and want to be a part of promoting your favorite sports team -- sports marketing is perfect for you.
Research is your best friend, so start looking at job boards and career management sites to gain some insights on what a sports marketing professional does. More importantly, you are educating yourself on what skills and schooling you need to qualify for open sports marketing roles.
Make a list of your transferrable skills by looking at your current experience and naming the skills you already possess. For example, as a sales representative, you handled customer requests and account management. What skills did you use?
When you identify what skills you can transfer, you are also finding what skills you need to bridge the gap. Analyze and compare your two lists -- skills you already have and skills you need to develop. For example, you have great communication skills thanks to your several years of experience in sales, but you don’t have the market research skills you need in sports marketing.
Now you’ve determined the specific area in which you need to gain some experience. It is overwhelming to consider learning new skills, but that’s why you need to talk to people who have mastered these skills and have made a similar career change or could guide you down a specific path.
Join professional groups and attend networking events. Buzz Marketing Group’s How Millennials Are Interacting With Professional Organizations report from 2015 found that 92 percent of respondents under 40 said they believe that professional organizations provide strong opportunities for networking and social capital.
Professional organizations allow you the opportunity to meet people in the sports industry. You can share ideas and discuss emerging trends and news. More importantly, you can find potential mentors.
Mentors are valuable because they guide you through professional development, and they can also help you land a job. It’s not as easy as shaking hands and asking them for favors. You need to build a rapport and stay connected.
A July 2014 OfficeTeam survey found that 28 percent of senior managers surveyed say that failing to keep in touch is a major networking mistake. Always follow up with professional contacts and schedule meetings and lunches to remain engaged with them.
Seek Out Learning Opportunities
Mentors and industry peers will know about all kinds of learning opportunities, including unpaid internships and volunteer opportunities. By volunteering, you’re showing that you’re passionate, excited to learn, and willing to put in the time and effort to develop a deeper understanding of the industry as well as the ins and outs.
Consider shadowing a sports marketing professional to get an idea of the day-to-day. Research your contact beforehand so you can ask meaningful questions to learn how they entered the field and to receive any tips or advice on achieving your career goals. See while there if you can spend time in the office setting with their colleagues. Observing several different perspectives on the nature of the business can help you to develop new skills.
Update Your Online Presence
Before you start branding yourself, identify who you are. Develop a clear message you want to share with employers and recruiters.
You know what skills you have and you started learning and developing skills you need, so you are well on your way to becoming a sports marketing expert who adds value to an organization. Your online presence is vital, especially as a hopeful sports marketing professional -- it shows you can market yourself.
Demonstrate how well you understand marketing and sports to encourage employers to get to know you more. Start a blog where you remark on trends and news stories impacting the profession.
Use your social media presence to share your own content as well as other pieces you come across. Engage in social media communities, like LinkedIn groups or Twitter chats, to showcase what you know and prove your passion for knowledge and growth to potential employers.
When you break a career change down into smaller steps, it’s far more manageable and feels realistic. Create a clear action plan, get to know people, educate yourself, and start promoting your expertise. You’ll make the leap from your cubicle to sports marketing in no time.