good choice bad choiceOur last post discussed the best aptitude to help you switch careers. While the Johnson O’Connor and the AIMS aptitude tests are great assessments, the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) remains the most attractive option for those switching careers. This is due to its flexible testing options, affordable costs, and interactive reports. However, this post will explore using the HAB to make that career transition.

An aptitude test can work wonders in the insights they provide. However, much is still on you. The HAB can’t find a job for you, but it can clarify which ones to hunt for. Once you access the career reports, the hunt begins. You can follow these steps to use HAB to find career prospects for you.

Step 1: Itemize the Recommended Occupations and Careers That Interest You.

Create a list of the careers that resonate with you. That may sound amorphous and unhelpful. But keep this in mind: these careers align with your aptitudes. You don’t need to wonder if your natural abilities mesh with them. Check out the image below for an example of the career recommendations on the Career Report.

career list

Focus on Education Requirements and Average Salary

When making a list, you’ll want to know two variables: the education requirements and the average salary (See image below). However, if you’re over thirty-five and looking to switch careers, there’s a high probability that returning to school won’t be an option. This means starting or continuing your higher education journey won’t work. So, you’ll need to focus on careers that require certifications instead.

Highland Ability Battery Report

Consider Earning a Micro-Credential or Certification

For example, if you have an IT degree but want to do more computer programming, getting a certification in Java script from freeCodeCamp.org[1][2] makes more sense than getting a computer science degree. Likewise, a welding or electrician certification might make more sense than getting a construction management degree if you work in construction but want to do more specialized or technical jobs. Equivalents of these certifications exist in most careers. Such Microcredentials make you marketable for your desired field.

However, ensure you have something to show for your efforts in these certifications. For example, if you’re trying to learn HTML or Python, you would ideally have a portfolio to showcase the things you’ve built with your coding skills. Thus, one of the reasons why I often recommend freeCodeCamp is because all of their courses have a built-in portfolio component. This way, you can showcase your skills to potential employers.

How Much Money Should I Make?

Finally, when you make your career list, ensure it aligns with your financial goals. Be realistic about how much money you need vs how much you want. Consider it, but don’t make it the only consideration. You don’t have to eat caviar each night to have a compelling career, but you do need to eat. I encourage my clients to pick jobs that pay between $70,000 – $95,000 a year. Research typically shows that this is the sweet spot for accessing the benefits that money can provide someone. [3][4][5][6] So, when it comes to money, that’s the ideal target for you. Remember, though, you may not start with that amount of compensation, but you want to work towards that compensation level.

Step 2: Research the careers you itemized in Step 1.

The words “career research” don’t often have an exciting ring. However, research doesn’t have to be boring. It can even be a little fun. Career research doesn’t entail getting out a microscope. Watching a YouTube video on an exciting career is one of the best ways to see if you’re a good fit for it. For example, I often show the video below to clients of mine who are interested in Industrial Design or niche mechanical engineering careers. To find this video, I simply read “Day in the Life of a Mechanical Engineer.” It’s not hard; you can find compelling information from credible sources on YouTube.

You can also do a Google search to find blogs that do the same. Podcasts are also an excellent option to learn about careers. This is especially true if the podcast features people who work in the career you’re interested in.

Step 3: Network with people in your career of interest.

Networking is a vital part of career research. Case in point: I’ve never had a job I didn’t get from networking. I always had an in. I’m a first-generation college student. I never joined a fraternity in college. You don’t have to be a chronic socialite to meet people in your desired career. You just dare to ask people questions and go to the occasional event.

Create or Update Your LinkedIn Profile

First, I encourage you to create or update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for networking. And I’ll give you some examples of how incredible it is in a minute. But first, please remember this:

DO NOT advertise that you’re looking for a new job if you’re making your LinkedIn profile for the first time and are currently employed. I’d hate for your employer to see you as someone trying to exit. If they do find out, they may beat you to it. Even if your job sucks, remember that it’s the way you’re paying your bills. You want to leave it on your terms.

How to Use LinkedIn to Network

If you want to learn how to code, join a LinkedIn Group of Newbie Coders. If you’re going to find a career in education, join a LinkedIn Group of Teachers. If you have questions about that career, then ask the group members. Many will respond. And they will often give you helpful advice.

You can even do the same for local job opportunities. Instead of joining a general teacher or educator group, join a LinkedIn group centralized in your current state. For example, you could say, “Tutors in Irvine, California.” You can then learn about the hiring trends and what kind of certifications and credentials companies seek.

While LinkedIn works well enough, it’s not the only social networking platform. Believe it or not, I’ve made some fantastic connections on Reddit over the years. Once, I needed to speak with an architect to connect with a client. As it turned out, I didn’t know one. So, I took to Reddit and found the Architecture subreddit. I met an extraordinary Architect who agreed to do an informational interview with my client. They connected on LinkedIn, and my client learned firsthand about becoming an architect from someone who’s made that journey.

A WARNING ABOUT NETWORKING ONLINE

With that said, you should be safe when arranging these meetings. Make sure you don’t give them any sensitive information. Keep your communication to email, not your phone number. You can also use the messaging function on LinkedIn or other platforms to keep your anonymity.

Try To Schedule An Informational Interview

Expect people to answer you, especially if it’s an active group. If you ask questions about that field in the form of a post, and someone answers that question thoughtfully, message them and see if you can give them an informational interview. Many will be open to it. Some won’t, but still be civil. People are busy, after all.

There are some instances where you may run across someone who’s high profile. If you’re trying to get into the Ed Tech industry, and you rub shoulders virtually with the CTO of an Ed Tech start-up, it might be worth offering to pay them for their time. They may or may not say yes. And if they say yes, they’ll often do it for free. If they give you a rate you can’t afford, simply tell them you can’t afford it and be patient.

Questions to Ask During An Informational Interview

You want to know what it’s like to work in the industry. Additionally, you want to test your knowledge to ensure your current knowledge is correct. Tell them why you’re interested in working in said field, and reference the facts you’ve learned from your research. This will allow them to correct you, which is what you want. Here are some examples:

  • I assume that data visualization is crucial for working in finance.
  • Most people in your field don’t typically have MBAs, correct?
  • Learning Javascript would be more helpful than learning Python, right?
  • Is it true that most electricians apprentice for 4-5 years?

Most importantly, you’ll want to know precisely what you must do to make yourself more appealing to hiring managers. Consider the questions below as a guide.

  • What Certifications do I need to be an attractive employee in this field?
  • What do you look for when you look at someone’s resume?
  • What are ways people cut their teeth into this field if they don’t have much experience?

Get them to tell their story.

Additionally, ask them about themselves and their journey. Here’s something to remember about looking for jobs in any industry: people love talking about themselves. The longer I’ve been a career coach, the more I believe this. It doesn’t have anything to do with how arrogant a person is (though that could enhance it); it simply springs from the desire to share their story with someone genuinely interested. It’s a way to connect. People’s lives matter to them, and they spend a giant chunk of their lives at work, so their careers also matter to them.

People will get more personal when they tell their stories. You want to know how they got to where they are now. With any luck, you’ll try to walk a similar path. Hearing their stories and experiences will help you envision the milestones of that path.

Be Grateful and Respectful of their Time

Don’t make any interaction longer than it needs to be. If a person agrees to meet with you for an informational interview, they will do you a huge favor. Ask for a 30-45 minute interview. If they decide to do a 30-minute interview, end it at 29 minutes. They don’t owe you their time, and you want to communicate that you’re thankful for the time they’ve graciously given you. You don’t do that by merely saying thank you but by ending the meeting on time.

With that said, a thank you email also goes a long way. After the meeting, send them an email thanking them for their time. Be specific about what you learned from them and how valuable their insights were. They will appreciate it. Who knows, months or years later, they might be instrumental in getting you an interview for a job.

Conclusion

You can secure a job you love that honors the contributions you’re capable of making. Taking an aptitude test today should be the first step towards a meaningful career. After you take your aptitude assessment, the pressure is on you to hustle after a career that aligns with your strengths. You can do this by advancing your marketability through certifications and portfolio-based microcredentials. You can gain greater career insight through networking through platforms like LinkedIn and Reddit. This enables you to learn and form meaningful connections with industry experts. Schedule your aptitude test today to start transitioning toward your dream job.

In the meantime, happy testing!

-Marc

References

[1] freeCodeCamp Certifications, accessed on 15 November 2023 at https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/freecodecamp-certifications/

[2] JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures Certification, freeCodeCamp – accessed at https://www.freecodecamp.org/learn/javascript-algorithms-and-data-structures/ on 15 November 2023.

[3] Money only buys happiness for a certain amount, Jebb, Andrew T. – accessed at https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2018/Q1/money-only-buys-happiness-for-a-certain-amount.html.

[4] The connection between money and happiness is real — to a point, Adams, Brooke – 3 April 2018 at https://unews.utah.edu/the-connection-between-money-and-happiness-is-real-to-a-point/.

[5] High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being, Kahneman, Daniel, and Deaton, Angus – accessed at https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1011492107.

[6] This Is the Ideal Amount of Money for Happiness, Study Says, Ducharme, Jamie – 14 February 2018, accessed at https://money.com/ideal-income-study/.

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