Learn the tools and tips to bust through the barriers

By Benton McTaggart
Director, Career Success Services
Meritize

After working with dozens of career switchers on their job searches, we have noticed four “job search stoppers” that can get in the way of success. These stoppers are like massive roadblocks. They slow down everything in their path – sometimes bringing your career switch to a complete halt.

If you are experiencing a lack of progress in switching careers, one or more of these stoppers may be slowing you down. Understanding the roadblocks makes it easier to move past them.

Let’s dive into these four key stoppers and what you can do to bust through:

  1. The “I am not enough” syndrome

    This negative self-perception tends to manifest itself in big moments such as before an important interview or a networking event. You may have thoughts such as: I am not experienced enough, I don’t have the skills for that, I am not outgoing enough, I am not creative enough or I can’t get that job. There is a general theme that you are not good enough to switch careers and take on a new job. In most instances, this sends a feeling of fear, which can stop even the most avid career switcher in his or her tracks. Self-doubt leads to procrastination or completely giving up.The best way to combat the effects of the inner critic is to become aware of it. Start by noticing the effect that it has on you, and then give the voice of the inner critic a name. For example, you may choose to call it ‘Negative Nancy’ or ‘Straight-laced John’ – so when that part of you surfaces and starts criticizing you – you can immediately identify what is going on. Overtime, this will help you recognize that this voice only represents a small part of you and does not define who you are entirely.Brene Brown, a renowned author on vulnerability and shame, recommends talking back to the inner critic when it shows up in tough moments. This involves pointing out what the inner critic is doing and being clear on what actions you will take. This helps you to move forward with more confidence.

  2. Making excuses with fill-in-the-blank stories

    Career switchers often create stories about their experiences and the results from their job search efforts. They usually buy in to these stories and believe that their viewpoint is the only correct one, when, in fact, there are multiple ways to look at what is happening. Many times, these stories end up working against them.So, let’s say you go on an interview for a job as a computer coder. Two days later you get a note that the company is moving forward with someone else. Immediately, you conclude that you didn’t get the job because of your age and instead they wanted someone younger. Keep in mind that is your version of what happened, while in fact, there are dozens of other reasons why the company may not have selected you and you’re not doing yourself any favors by guessing at the reasons.Bust through these stories by simply looking at things from multiple perspectives, and only select the ones that allow you to move forward in a positive way.

  3. The “It happened to me before, so it will happen again” syndrome

    This is a common one. You tried switching careers before, maybe a year or a couple of months ago and your efforts were unsuccessful. Perhaps you had multiple interviews and networking events but heard “no” with each effort. This is where most people start to lose faith and start believing that they know what is going to happen – they will never be able to switch careers.In handling these situations, simply challenge the assumption: just because you did not find a job a couple of months ago, why must it be the same this time? The truth is you do not know what will happen in the future. What you do know is that you can control how you handle career switching efforts next time around.Instead, go back to a time in the past where you faced something similar in your life – for example having to convince someone you were worth the risk – and identify the strengths you used to arrive at a successful outcome. Use those strengths or skills to fuel your career switch next time around.

  4. Limiting beliefs that create barriers

    “Limiting beliefs” are the perceptions and viewpoints about switching careers that we pick up from our environment, culture, advisors or family – that we hold as true. These beliefs can limit career switchers in their transition because they believe there is no way around the barriers. It may cause them to not act at all, or if they do act, to do so with limited enthusiasm and engagement.The most common limiting belief in the career switching process is that you must start from the bottom or completely give up all you know to start in your desired field. Also, starting from the bottom in your career might mean a significantly lower salary or using skills that are less desirable to you. This is often not true.Look for evidence that goes against the limiting belief and let that be your guide.  Focus on the additional skills, perceptions and career experience that you can bring to your new career. Sometimes, these skills may make you even more desirable to the employer at hand.Switching careers is not always a rosy path. Sometimes it can be riddled with uncertainty, disappointment or even the proverbial career crickets. It is your job to focus on what you want, take the steps to make it happen, and bust through the negative stoppers that threaten to derail your journey.