Now that you’re thinking about changing careers and doing something more meaningful with this next phase of your life, you might be worried that all of your years of education and experience are going to go to waste and that you’ll be way overqualified for any job you apply for.
Maybe one of the things that holds you back from actually making the move is the idea that after all your hard work and achievements, in order to find meaningful work you’ll have to be doing something so low-level you’ll feel you’ve gotten a huge demotion. And even though it’s exciting to think about doing something more meaningful than selling or marketing another widget, it doesn’t feel as soul-filling as you’d like because you’re not using your true talents and gifts.
Changing Careers Without Wasting Your Education & Experience
Of course, the trick to changing careers without wasting all of your hard earned skills is to know where you want to make an impact in the world, and how your skill set can best be put to use doing that.
Don’t doubt that you’ve been honed and polished by life to be perfect for whatever impact you’re supposed to make in the world. If what’s next for you is to hand out water at a disaster site or sweep out stalls, there’s no shame in that. That’s good work and it all needs to get done. But you have gone through years of education and have gotten years of experience, and if what you’re afraid of is giving that up just know that it’s not necessary.
Ask yourself, what impact would you like to make on the world?
What skills or experience do you have already that could best help that cause?
For example, I recently had a client who was an amazing consultant at a top firm. She took her organizational, project, people, and many other skills and brought them to a high level position at a non-profit organization that is doing work that she believes is fundamental to making real change in the world.
She didn’t leave behind her skills, education, experience, or even her salary to make a difference. She took it all with her, made a transition and is now she’s doing what she loves, making an impact and using every bit of what she’s earned.
She found something she loved and wasn’t overqualified for the job at all. She fit right in.
How do your highest skills and experiences inform your highest callings?
What’s the perfect intersection of what you’re trained to do and what you’d love to do?
Changing Careers In A Completely Different Direction
What if, unlike my incredible client, you’re unable to make such a clean transition from what you’re doing into what you want to do?
Or what if, like so many of my clients, you still have only a vague sense of what it is that you want to do, but no real idea about it – and still less of an idea of what skills or experiences might enhance the endeavor?
If that’s the case, you’ll have to think about what it is that you truly want.
I recognize that taking on that one statement might take you months or years to fully tackle, but when you actually know what you want, you may be able to find that perfect intersection still.
Even if it seems there are no similarities between what you’ve been doing and what you want to do, trust that you’ll still be bringing your education and experience to what you’re doing next, even if you don’t bring it into your work as cleanly as my client was able to.
You won’t forget everything you know, and the fact that you’re trying something new and bringing all of you into your new work situation means that you’ll be bringing something novel to the situation. That means you’ll have a chance to see your situation in a new way, and be the one to bring fresh ideas and insights to work that might be in dire need of innovation from someone passionate about making improvements.
Changing careers may be in your future – but know that you don’t have to give up your hard-earned years of education and experience if you’re changing fields, and you don’t have to end up feeling way overqualified for your job. There may be a powerful intersection of your skills and your new field, or there may simply be a way in which you see your new field from the perspective of someone who already has earned her stripes.