People often ask me, “Do I need to go back to school to change careers?” Typically the asker already boasts a list of credentials on her resume.
Of course there are careers where professional certification is a must (think surgeon, lawyer, or therapist to name a few). However, for most careers, it matters more that you have relevant experience and a track record of results.
My client Karen is a great example. Karen was a project manager watching the timelines and coordinating the product development process for a large home furnishings company. She was good at her job but longed to work on the creative team, designing products.
Before she quit to get a design degree, I coached Karen to try out a project or two. Knowing the team had a lot to do under tight deadlines, Karen offered to help with a few small projects. With guidance and some training, Karen completed the projects and was ready for more.
Over time her skills improved to the point where Karen was as competent (and confident!) as any of the first level designers. When a position opened up on the design team, Karen threw her hat into the ring.
She already knew the company well and now had very relevant design experience on her resume. Karen’s track record of successful designs convinced the manager hiring for the job that she was the right candidate. Now with five years of design experience, Karen has all the credentials she needs to do work she loves.
Don’t assume a degree is the path to the career change you desire. Look for ways to build practical experience in the career you want. Employers care about credentials but they care most about results.
Maggie Mistal is a certified career & life purpose coach and the host of "Making a Living with Maggie," which airs every Friday at 4 p.m. ET on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112, XM 157. Please visit her website at MaggieMistal.com.