Transitioning into a finance career after you've spent many years in another industry may seem exciting to some and daunting to others. The world of finance may offer a greater challenge as well as potential improvements in compensation, among other benefits. If you are pondering a midlife career change that involves a transition into finance, then here are a few tips that will help you make the transition.
Take an Assessment of Personality Traits and Professional Skills
A career in finance requires quite a few professional skills, such as a working knowledge of finance and accounting, as well as comfort with a computer and various software programs (Excel is a good example). Those who successfully transition into finance also possess certain non-financial skills, such as the ability to communicate well and good interpersonal skills. To ensure that a career in finance is right for you, a great first step is to assess your skill sets and personality traits.
This step can be accomplished by completing an online career assessment or by contacting your alma mater's career services office. You may even wish to engage a professional career consultant, who should be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to sizing up your strengths, weaknesses and personality traits. Whichever method you decide to pursue, the goal is to determine how well your knowledge, skills and abilities match the requirements of a finance career.
Perform Research and Conduct Informational Interviews
The next step in your transition into a finance career is to learn as much about your field of interest as possible, ideally by speaking with somebody who has the career that you are interested in pursuing. These conversations, also called "informational interviews," help you to learn more about the options available to you, given your experience and your area of interest.
You may be wondering, "How do I find somebody with whom I can conduct an informational interview?" Start by asking people within your existing professional and social networks, and expand your circles from there. Rest assured, most people enjoy speaking about their professions and are happy to help if they can. Other options that may lead to informational interviews include becoming a member of a career-specific organization, networking through your alumni association, attending a business networking meeting or cold-calling professionals. Networking is as important as everyone tells you. The more people that you talk to, the more well-informed you will be regarding your options.
Prior to conducting an informational interview, it is important to do as much research as possible so that you can demonstrate your knowledge by asking intelligent questions during the interview. Online resources are aplenty, as are career libraries at universities and public libraries. A little bit of due diligence goes a long way in terms of credibility. A well-conducted informational interview may turn into a job - you never know!
Another important "must do" prior to conducting an informational interview is to craft a professional resume that showcases your knowledge, skills and abilities. Again, there are several online resources that can guide you through this process. Be sure to have your resume ready, just in case the informational interview results in a request for your resume.
Remember: Patience and Perseverance Pay off
Today's job market presents challenges, so do not get discouraged if your efforts to transition into finance do not immediately bear fruit. Continue to network, conduct informational interviews and apply for relevant positions. Solicit feedback from everyone who speaks to you, as their feedback may help you to adjust your approach as needed.
Finally, You're Hired!
Getting hired is probably the hardest part of transitioning into the world of finance. Once you are hired, ensure your success by working hard, being proactive and engaging in appropriate networking activities. To that end, be sure to find a mentor once you arrive in your new career, perhaps a senior person who can relate to your experience, either personal or professional. This person can guide you in regards to the the ins and outs of your new career and offer pointers regarding how certain situations should be approached.
The Bottom Line
Though transitioning into a finance career is exciting to some and daunting to others, particularly if such a transition is executed in midlife, rest assured that it is doable. Careful research and effective networking are crucial to a successful transition - just remember to be patient. Finally, once you make the change, be sure to find a mentor who can guide you as you move up on your career ladder.