Switching careers at any age, or point in your life, is not something to be taken lightly. More often than not, it entails making a huge decision that could change your life for the better or for the worse.
It is normal to want to change careers even at the height of your success. Not many may understand why you want to change jobs when you have a perfectly successful one, but the need to do so is stronger than the logic behind your action. If only it was that easy, however.
How Can You Tell If You Are Ready For a Career Change?
- When you are totally and completely exhausted, depleted and worn out – all the time.
- When the job responsibilities and skills are not a match to you.
- When you feel like your skills and knowledge are better used someplace else or in another way.
- When job compensation is no longer enough to feed other aspects of your life or take away boredom and emptiness.
- When you find yourself constantly asking, “Is this where I’m supposed to be”?
How to Change Careers Without Major Consequences
1. Switch Careers At The Right Time.
Yes, even if you’re itching to just disappear and never come back to work, you must wait for the right time. Timing is essential, as this can ensure an easier transition. Experts suggest that you change your career when your life is stable. Avoid doing it when you’re about to have your first child, or when you recently broke up with someone and you needed to escape. Stability and a strong support system will not only get you through transition, but also give you the courage and confidence to face the professional risks you are about to take.
2. Make An Assessment Of Your Professional Likes And Dislikes.
Most people switch careers because they dislike something about their job, such as the work itself, the company or the boss. To ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself, identify what you dislike about your work and what you would prefer to have happened. Do you prefer to work at home? What are you passionate about? What career options excite you? By understanding your likes and dislikes, you can take your career search to a new direction. Simply put, find your passion before you change professional direction.
3. Do Your Homework.
Now that you know what you want and like to do, research different careers that are centered on what you are passionate about. Is the transition a huge leap? Spend more time researching. Extensive research is likely if you’re switching from a nurse to an IT professional, as opposed to a teacher to a corporate trainer. Use a skills matching service such as O*NET Online from the U.S. Department of Labor to make your tasks easier. Use the same website and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook to get basic job information.
4. Identify Transferable And Applicable Skills.
Even if the career you are switching into is worlds apart from what you have been doing, there might be skills and experiences that you can leverage. All you need to do is identify what your transferable skills are, such as planning, leadership, management, communications and many others.
5. Update Your Skills And Knowledge.
Even with transferable skills, you might still need to undergo training and enroll in a few courses. This is exactly why timing is everything. By the time that you leave your current job, you should have the skills and knowledge needed for the new career you want to take on. So take it slowly. You should also ensure that you get the right accreditation and certification necessary for your new job.
6. Find Ways To Gain Experience.
How about doing a part-time job in the new field that you want to pursue? This will not only provide you with work experience, but also help solidify your decision. By getting a feel of what the job entails, you will know if you really like to switch to a new career. Other options would be volunteering or temping, working nights, weekends or whenever your schedule permits.
Your networking abilities can make or break your career change. It is important to know people who can give you job leads, or give you insights about the industry that you want to get into. With access to people who knows someone vital to your new career, you can expand your network and increase your success in switching jobs. Join professional organizations to widen your network. You should also get in touch with alumni from your college or refer to your colleagues for recommendations.
8. Seek Out a Mentor.
Within your network, find a mentor who can help you through the rough patches of a career transition. Your mentor doesn’t have to be popular or very important, but the powerful ones do have an advantage, what with the network they are likely to have, and one that you can tap into. Whichever is the case, use the power of your mentor to your advantage. Learn all that you possibly can.
9. Be Flexible In Almost Everything.
Switching careers can happen in or out. That is, you change jobs, but not employers. Are you open to such an arrangement? A career change can also mean starting from scratch, earning less than your current salary, relocating, or doing more tasks than what you are accustomed to. In other words, what you are enjoying now may not be what you will experience on your new career. This is why you must be flexible in nearly everything about your profession. It is important to set goals, but don’t overlook setbacks and challenges that you would have to face.
10. Focus On What Really Matters.
Some people change careers thinking they would have the perfect job, important position and a substantial compensation. If you fixate on these things, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Remember not overlooking setbacks? It is important to focus on what really matters, such as finding your passion and doing the work related to it.