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Career Monday: 7 Critical Actions to Consider Before Trying to Switch Careers

Most people change careers several times over the course of a lifetime. Perhaps the career we chose in our younger years turned out to less than satisfying. Or maybe our field has been displaced by technology. Sometimes we simply want to try something new and exciting.

Changing careers is common, but there are potential pitfalls. A little planning can make a big difference in the smoothness of the transition between careers. Planning ahead is a good idea because you’re much more likely to end up with a career that you can love for years to come.

Consider these items carefully before making a career change:

1. Think about the financial implications of the change. If you’ve progressed well in your current field, it’s unlikely that you’ll soon be able to replicate that salary in your new field.

• Do you have the necessary financial resources to make the career change now? Assume the transition will take some time.

2. Start working on your resume and interviewing skills. If you haven’t looked for a job in the last 20 years, your resume and job hunting skills could probably use an update. You’ll find a much better job if you polish those skills before starting your job search. There are countless books and consultants available to help you brush up.

3. Run to something, rather than away from something. When people are miserable, they tend to gravitate towards anything that looks better. However, there are more beneficial ways to make the decision.

• Any exit looks good when the building is on fire. You’re much more likely to be happy with your career change if you take the time to choose the best field for you.

• The more you dislike your current job, the more important it is to take a deep breath and examine all of your options.

4. Avoid a career decision based on financial considerations. Of course, salary is a part of the decision-making process, but using it as the sole criteria can yield disappointing results. Money, even a large amount, probably won’t make up for spending 8+ hours a day in misery at your job.

• People that are stressed tend to have more health issues, which are expensive, too.

5. Decide if you need a new career or if you just want a new job. Some people are miserable in their jobs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a new career is required. Maybe the solution is as simple as taking a similar job at another company. Perhaps the issue is just your boss.

6. Find a new job before leaving your current position. Predicting the amount of time it will take to find a new job is like trying to predict the lottery numbers. It might take a week. It might take 12 months or more.

• Unless you have significant financial resources, secure your new job before quitting the old one.

7. Obtain the necessary training and education first. Many people try to change careers before having the necessary credentials in place. You might have to volunteer or be a temporary employee to get the necessary experience.

• Do you need any certifications or a license for your new career? Do you need to go back to school? Your current employer might pay for your classes.

Life is short, and changing careers is one way to pack more fulfillment into your years. It’s also common to grow disenchanted with a career after doing it for too long. Switching careers is exciting, but it also requires some thought and planning. Take the time to find the best career for you and ease the challenges of the transition.

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