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Thinking of changing careers? Here’s what you need to know

Shafqat Islam, CEO of NewsCredShafqat Islam, CEO of NewsCred
Shafqat Islam, CEO of NewsCred

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?” is by Shafqat Islam, CEO of NewsCred.

Career transitions can start months (and sometimes years) before the actual leap is made. You get an itch to solve a problem, expand your abilities, or seize a market opportunity that you see others overlooking–fellow entrepreneurs, you know what I’m talking about.

Back in 2008 I was working my way up the ladder at Merrill Lynch, when I came across an opportunity in the media industry that I felt I could tackle with my engineering background. Although I knew nothing about the media industry, I was passionate about solving a problem for an industry I admired and felt was important to society. It was a true leap of faith to leave a comfortable job and jump into the unknown. Sometimes these leaps work—and sometimes they don’t. So before making the transition be honest about what it will take to reach your goals and how you’re going to get there (or how you plan to figure it out). Often, these types of transitions are not short-term plays, but require deep levels of long-term commitment.

When you’re making a career change–whether it’s to move into a new industry or start your own business–it’s important to emphasize the skills and knowledge you do have. In my case, I loved technology and I knew I could lead a team. And always be flexible–the best plans are malleable. We can all get bogged down in an endless calendar of meetings and yet most of us are still evaluated on tangible results. A key way to excel in any new career is to learn by actually doing the work required, and often that is the work that no one else wants to do. I can guarantee others will appreciate your passion, as well as your lack of ego.

To be successful in any career transition you will need curiosity and elbow grease. When changing industries, no one’s going to hand you the key to the kingdom–you will have to earn it.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?

When you should (and shouldn’t) change careers by Ryan Harwood, CEO of Purewow.

3 things you need to know before joining a startup by Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of Scripted.com.

How to successfully change careers (at any age) by Matthew Salzberg, CEO and founder of Blue Apron.