About a third of Americans don't make enough money to reach their savings goals, according to a recent survey by Acorns of 2,000 U.S. adults.
If that's you, maybe you're mulling going back to school or starting a side hustle to bring in extra income. But you may not have to. Simply getting a job in a new industry could lead to higher wages. You could earn almost 15% more when you switch companies, according to executive search firm Burtch Works.
Switching careers can be tough, though, especially during a pandemic. Here's some advice from Austin Belcak, founder of Cultivated Culture, who has helped people switch industries and get jobs at companies like Twitter, Apple, Amazon, and Uber.
Once you identify the kind of job you want to pursue, you might realize you don't yet have the right experience to get hired. And it can be hard to focus on which skills to build.
To figure it out, look at "20 to 30 job descriptions that match the role you want to go to next," suggests Belcak, and find the similarities between them. Once you locate the overlaps, you'll know which skills are most important to focus on building.
To help job seekers through Cultivated Culture, Belcak created a website called ResyMatch.io where you can paste the job descriptions and it will find all of the skills in the job description and sort them by frequency. The skills that recur will be "the best bang for your buck, and those are the ones you want to invest in," says Belcak.
It's crucial to build these skills because too many candidates focus on why they want to switch industries and not enough on gaining the core skills and competencies they need to be successful, says Julia Pollak, Labor Economist at ZipRecruiter.
One easy way to learn these skills is by taking online courses through websites like Coursera, YouTube, or LinkedIn Learning.
Both Pollak and Belcak say that taking a class is only the first step in the process, though. You'll still need to take the information you learned and go get real results.
Video by Courtney Stith
Belcak has successfully switched industries himself: He went from a job where he was underpaid and overworked to one at Microsoft. To get his foot in the door, he initially volunteered at digital marketing agencies. Then, once he had enough experience, he began freelancing to show future employers that he was qualified and to make extra money.
Other ways you can demonstrate competency for the role include taking a certification course and creating your own website or blog, Pollak says. And it's important to stay up to date on what's going on in the field.
Write down details about your dream job, Belcak suggests. Then use LinkedIn to find people who are in those jobs and send them polite messages explaining who you are and that you'd appreciate the chance to ask them questions about their career journey.
"Go find those people who are working in the job titles that you want to work in and even better [if] you can find people who broke in from a nontraditional background," he says. "Then reach out to them."
Reaching out for advice can help you create a "road map" of what you should do to get a job in a new industry, Belcak says. After you act on their advice, you can send a thank-you note and report back to the person about how it went. In that way, you can create a valuable relationship.
Using tools like LinkedIn's Groups and attending virtual events can make networking easier while you're at home. Networking can also lead to new opportunities and help you access the hidden job market.
You probably aren't going to be able to switch industries overnight, Belcak says. It takes persistence. Find 30 minutes every day to learn a new skill or get more experience. If you do, it's "just going to make you a much more competitive candidate."
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