This is part six of a seven-part series on the most common mistakes I see people making when changing careers.
Has this ever happened to you?
You’re scrolling the job boards (even though you know it’s probably a giant waste of time) when you see it: The perfect job. The one you’ve been waiting for.
You are beyond excited. Until... you pull out your résumé and realize it hasn’t been updated for a few years.
Yes, I’ve been there.
My first job out of college was teaching preschool where I worked with special needs children. I liked my job. As a 22-year-old with no experience in anything else, I figured this was a pretty good deal.
But after a few months, I knew it couldn’t be my long-term plan.
It barely paid my bills and provided health insurance, but that was about it. I was babysitting and nannying in my free-time just to make ends meet, and I never had any real time off. I was exhausted.
I wanted more than this for myself, so I started looking for bigger opportunities, focusing on openings that involved editing, communications, and writing, because they seemed a good fit for my English major.
But I wasn’t having any luck. I’d find a job that looked perfect. And then, I’d panic and spend several hours after work trying to update my résumé so I could apply before the job closed.
I’m not kidding. That was my process.
It only took a few months of making zero progress to realize that this “plan” wasn’t working.
So I took a different approach.
I paused the job search and took a few weeks to sit with my resumé, updating and polishing it.
I started reading books for advice on job seeking and navigating interviews.
I even recruited my sister to ask me typical interview questions so I could practice my responses.
When I jumped back into the search, I was ready. I found a posting in event planning, and this time, I could take action immediately. It felt amazing.
While most of the job search process is out of our control, there are a few things you can do to be prepared.
First, keep your resumé and cover letter up to date.
Have a cover letter that you can update quickly with just a few keywords from the job posting and a couple paragraphs at the beginning and end that connect to the opportunity.
Second, have a few interview outfits always ready in your closet.
This might sound silly, but it’s true. Having the clothes you need cleaned and pressed can go a long way toward making you feel ready when the time for the interview comes.
Third, practice job interview questions.
While no two job interviews are the same, there are some questions you are almost guaranteed to be asked:
Tell me about yourself.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Why do you want to change careers?
Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work.
What type of work environment is best for you?
Prepare answers for these and practice responding to them with a friend or family member who can give you feedback.
There’s nothing worse than finding a great job and having to race around trying to get materials together, terrified the posting will close before you’re ready to apply.
Knowing you’re ready to go will boost your confidence when the time actually comes.