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Changing Your Career Field Can Be Fearful

Fear is a human emotion that is natural and powerful. It can paralyze you mentally and physically from moving forward with confidence on anything you desire to accomplish. Confidence, meanwhile, is the opposite of fear and propels you into what you want and can do, including moving into a new career field. To accomplish that, you must be willing to change your thinking. You must come up with a plan of action to move into your new career field. Here are three simple steps to get you closer to your new goal:

1. Create Your Occupation List

Make a list of occupations you are interested in, then prepare a shortlist to start. Search the internet and find jobs you want to apply for, print them out and highlight critical skills that you do not currently possess. Study the job description carefully to get a full understanding of the job responsibilities.

Make a list of those critical skills found in the job description, then find available courses within your agency or external learning institutions and begin taking them. Set a goal for completion. Most agencies have training databases such as learning management systems that offer free courses in hard and soft skills at no cost.

Or, you can go into your local community and volunteer your services in those skill areas that you do not possess and, over a period of time, you will gain that work experience needed to add to your resume. Take advantage of shadowing assignments or participate in upward development opportunities within your agency to gain work experience and knowledge.

2. Revise Your Resume

Now that you have gained the necessary critical skills under your belt from the courses you completed, you are now ready to update your resume. Include your newly acquired training skills and dates of completion – which are important to include – in the resume.

Remember that list of occupations you created at the beginning of job your research? Go back to that list and identify competencies that are in the job description and use them to revise your resume. These buzz words should be added to your document which will attract the hiring official to determine whether you have the qualifications for the position.

Update your professional references in your resume. Make sure you list people who are going to give you a rave review. Also, be sure to contact your references directly to validate that it is alright to use their names. This way, when you begin participating in the interview process, you can notify them when to expect a phone call or email.

Now that you have updated your resume, be sure to upload it into the job database to begin applying for your new career position.

3. Practice Your Interviewing Skills

Most agencies use specific interview techniques to seek the best candidates, such as panel or board, formal, stress and behavioral-based interviews. However, in today’s work environment, most agencies prefer using behavioral-based interviews, which can be an intense process for the interviewee.

During behavioral-based interviews, the interviewer asks questions that are more pointed and probing to push the interviewee to answer questions based on specific work experiences. The goal of using behavioral interviews is to predict the person’s future performance and determine how the person will behave in the work environment.

Begin to practice or rehearse your answers to sample behavioral interview questions. This will allow you to prepare yourself for what is to come once you are given the opportunity to interview with the agency.

Practice interviewing with a friend, colleague, leadership or someone you trust who will give you constructive feedback. LinkedIn can be an excellent resource to connect with people who are already in your career field of interest. You may want to reach out to similar professionals for pointers or feedback on how to secure the job you are interested in.

Whatever you decide to do, be diligent and use available resources to perfect your interviewing skills. With confidence, you are now ready to make your career change.

Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected]. And to read more from our Spring 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Wanda Dandridge is a subject matter expert on financial management systems for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Energy located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Her government career spans over 15 years, starting as an Army intern in financial management, then subsequently emerging as a transformational leader with DLA specializing in budget analysis, logistical support and employee development. Wanda’s greatest career accomplishment is receiving the Federal Employee of the Year Award with DLA Energy Pacific in 2012. Her philosophy is to lead by example while fostering others for their desired purpose. She is a Certified Defense Financial Manager (CDFM) who enjoys volunteering in her local community.

This post was originally published on May 18, 2021.

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