How do you tackle a career change when you have field experience but none in the industry?
Lisa Gates, Sales and Marketing Manager at Brookdale Fort Myers The Colony, didn’t always love her career. After working in hospitality sales and marketing for ten years then real estate for another six, Lisa sought opportunities that sparked the initial, fiery passion she had for the marketing and sales field. The challenge wasn’t her skill set within the field. It was a lack of passion for her industry.
Since the real estate market had taken a nose dive, she felt it was a strategic time to investigate another industry and discover her true passions. Between her stress-relieving swim strokes, creative poem writing and outdoor adventures, she began to really think about her next move.
Now fully and successfully transitioned into a career she loves, she looks back on the steps that made her career change a smoother process.
Step 1: Learn Your Strengths.
A full-time career takes up about 2,000 hours each year, so isn’t it important to spend that time wisely? Understanding how you’re wired provides insight into careers you would succeed in and enjoy. What thrills you? What are your strengths? What are your career must-haves? Lisa sat back and analyzed.
Many shy away from challenges, but they actually excite me. I knew I’ve always been gifted at solving challenges, actively listening, and being creative. Those traits were apparent, which is why I chose to pursue marketing and sales. I also remembered I’ve liked social work since I was twelve-years-old. I didn’t see my future clearly, but I saw that helping others needed to play an even stronger role in my next career move to stay passionate.
Some say that good sales people can sell anything. I don’t believe this to be true. I would need to sell something I’m passionate about, I thought.
Step 2: Make Strategic Gambles.
You can dream all day. Though, without that first action taken, a thought remains a thought. When Lisa grew disinterested in selling homes, she knew she needed to make a move. She applied her self-analysis and began searching for other industries that would make sense with her new realizations. When she saw a director opening for an adult day help program, she didn’t know whether she would like it or even get hired. To her surprise, both transpired.
It turns out that I absolutely love working with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, which lead me into my current role, specializing in memory care at Brookdale. Making that strategic gamble was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. I am never bored and get to help people everyday.
Step 3: Build Relationships.
If you don’t have a relationship with the company, build one. Go visit the office or community, meet the team, and tell them that this is what you’d like to do. Hey, even imagine what you can do for your company in the interim.
I’ve lived in the Fort Myers area for thirty years, so I know a lot of people. When I heard of Brookdale’s reputation, I began making several referrals to their local communities, and that’s how my relationship with the company began. Then I participated in several events Brookdale held. At one of those events, I met Jill Grinnell, Divisional Director of Sales. That’s when my relationship with Brookdale really cemented. Keeping in touch with her is what led me to my job now that I love.
Step 4: Educate Yourself.
If you have the skill set down but are new to an industry, it’s up to you to learn it. Research, listen, and educate yourself. Capitalize on those who can show you the ropes and do active researching on your own.
Although I didn’t know by years of experience in the industry, I learned by those who did. The internet was and is an endless resource of information. I spoke with professionals in the area who were knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s. I spent hours preparing for my interview–reading their brochure, studying their social media and learning about the company.
My hunger for more knowledge was nonstop. That’s when you know you’re really passionate.
Step 5: Plan Ahead.
A mentor told Lisa early on, “Don’t come in here with problems. Come in with solutions.” That never left Lisa, and she only takes a problem to a supervisor when she also has a potential solution.
I developed a crisis plan when we were at full occupancy, then discussed with my divisional director of sales. It’s so much easier to develop a plan when you’re in a good frame of mind. I didn’t just develop a plan, though. I wrote it down and practice it each day. That way, if a crisis does occur, that plan is already second nature to me.
Again, I’m not a sales person; I’m a solutions-based individual. That’s what I love about Brookdale, and why my role is an ideal fit for me. I always like to have a solution, and that’s what Brookdale is all about. We’re a solutions-based company.