Switching careers is never an easy choice to make, whether you’re giving up the stability of a current job or finding yourself unfulfilled and looking for a new challenge. Initially, I started out in the travel industry, but soon became enamored with beauty and fashion PR. I particularly loved the natural, eco-friendly beauty lines, and found myself more and more excited about the prospect of getting the word out to consumer media about beautiful, luxurious, and most importantly, safe beauty brands. After working with a few freelance clients in the green beauty space, I realized this was I wanted to do full time and knew I had to take a huge step by switching into a new field.
While there is no one size fits all approach to a career switch, there are some things that can help make the transition smoother and improve your chance of success in your new field!
Seek out success stories
There’s no need to start out blindly cobbling together a career plan with limited insight. Instead, make a list of those in your new field who are already successful and start to build relationships and request their expertise.
When I was looking to take a detour on my intended career path, I reached out to some amazing women who had already done what I was seeking to accomplish; to build a successful lifestyle and fashion PR firm without having a ton of background in public relations. Hearing how these women were able to create their dream jobs with persistence and hard work, as well as learning how they secured their first clients and press hits gave me the encouragement to test out a new career. Their advice continues to inform how I pitch new clients and work with editors, stylists and influencers – I am forever grateful!
Study your field from multiple perspectives
In addition to speaking with successful people in your new space, consider yourself to be a student and give yourself a crash course in your new career. Act as though you are already a part of the industry and soak up all the information you can. Get up to date on the hottest players in the industry (in fashion or lifestyle PR this means knowing who all of the top fashion bloggers, beauty YouTubers, and trendsetting celebs are) while making sure to read books, magazines, and digital media relevant to your new field.
When I was looking to take a detour on my intended career path, I reached out to some amazing women who had already done what I was seeking to accomplish; to build a successful lifestyle and fashion PR firm without having a ton of background in public relations.
When I first decided to transition into beauty/fashion PR, I read everything I could get my hands on. From consumer media, like the latest issue of Us Weekly to fashion trade mainstay Women’s Wear Daily’s headlines, I made sure I learned how different outlets reported on different topics and the top trends.
Subscribing to my favorite blogs and websites in a newsreader (favorite: Inoreader) makes it easy to browse through new content (something I still do to this day!). Sign up for email newsletters for your target clients and other resources to ensure you never miss a beat in your new field.
Gain relevant experience
Before simply quitting your job and frantically trying to find one in your new industry, take the time to simply explore what is out there and do what you can to start developing vertical-specific experience.
It might feel not unlike the days of internships, but one of the best ways to break into a new career is the most daunting – getting experience. But you’re probably thinking, “How can I find work without already having the experience in the field?” And thus begins the catch 22. If you’re truly passionate about breaking into a new industry, you may have to accept the fact that you will need to work for less money than you’re used to making (at least in the beginning). Whether you take on an unpaid internship or do some pro bono freelance work for a client, getting experience under your belt to show prospective employers and clients is vital.
Start thinking about what accomplishments and skills are going to be required in your new industry and use that knowledge to inform your choices.
Commit to the change
Realize that there are days when you’ll feel defeated and wonder why you ever thought it would be a good idea to leave the comfort of what you know for a new career or an industry switch. Whether you are not getting interviews your dream company or feeling overwhelmed by everything you don’t know about your new field, things can get tough. Instead of squirming against it, or drowning in Rose, just realize that this challenging experience right here, is evidence that you are following your dream and progress is being made.
If you feel in your gut that it’s time to plan for a new career, develop a new specialization within your industry, or change up how you work, you deserve to honor that impulse and follow that feeling. We all go through moments of self-doubt, but if you keep your eye on the end goal (a successful career in an industry you love) you’ll make it through.