Thinking of a career switch? Be sure to “signal”.

I recently came back from a vacation in Europe and several differences between EU and North America jumped out of me. The obvious ones being their beautiful historic architecture compared to our mostly modern tastes in NA and their yummy cuisines were oh so delicious and are almost impossible to find here. Another big difference that stood out for me was the driving skills and habits of the Europeans. Collectively, they are far superior to our drivers. Why? They all drive at the same speed, let each other merge and above all, always SIGNAL their intentions. I was truly impressed.

What does this have to do with one’s career?

Often I get people asking for advice on how to switch careers to industries and roles they have no experience in. “I have been in accounting for the past several years but I really want to give marketing a try.” It’s a tough and brave move but it definitely can be done. But, how? Firstly, you need to SIGNAL (See? I was going somewhere with my Euro analogy after-all) your career intentions. You need to show your intentions and commitment to making a switch by:

  • Education – take courses, training and certification in your desired role and industry.
  • Get out – Go to networking meetings, trade shows and conferences in that industry and network.
  • Sell yourself – Have a well-crafted elevator pitch about yourself to communicate to people why the desired switch and why you believe you can do it.
  • Take a step back – Be willing to take on more junior roles to your current level to show that you are willing to learn on the job and move up.
  • Find a mentor – Speak to someone in that industry and get their perspective. Show them your CV and ask them to help highlight the transferable skills and experiences.

Making the jump to a completely different career takes guts but is 100% doable. Just make sure to send the right signals.


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