Weather forecasters can’t reliably predict the weather three days from now. How is a 22-year old supposed to pick the right career for the next 40-plus years? Most of us will contemplate a career change at some point. It might be a conscious decision or the loss of a job might be the genesis of a change.
The thought of a new career path can be both exciting and daunting. The risk and reward can both be high. With an effective approach, the risk can be minimized and the reward maximized.
For greater success, consider these tips when you want to change your career:
1. Be clear on why you wish to change careers. Clearly, you’re dissatisfied with your current career, but why? Too many hours? Not satisfying? Salary too low for your field? Understand why you wish to change careers and ensure that your new path won’t result in the same situation.
• Avoid fleeing a career and taking the first opportunity. Make a conscious decision about your future and move toward it.
2. Understand what you want. Research shows that people love general characteristics about their work. The actual job doesn’t matter very much. Helping people, the ability to be creative, and autonomy are a few examples. There are multiple careers that can provide the job characteristics that you crave.
• Avoid believing that you must identify the perfect job. There are several options out there that would fit the bill nicely.
3. Think big but be realistic. Depending on your age and background, the time for playing professional baseball, becoming a neurosurgeon, or sitting on the Supreme Court may have passed. Not every possible career is a viable option.
• Setting goals that can never be reached leads to frustration and a lack of progress.
4. Determine the skills and education you need for your new career. Do you need a new degree? Public speaking skills? Computer skills? What do you need in order to transition to the next level? Begin developing the necessary skills as quickly as possible.
5. Avoid quitting until you have a new job. You may not have the option, but if possible, wait until you have another position before you leave your current job. It’s surprising how quickly a savings account can be depleted when you don’t have an income.
• If you’ve lost your job unexpectedly, consider taking a job in the short-term until you’ve successfully made your career change. The best part-time job would be related to your new field.
6. Realize that you may have to start at the bottom. You may be a plant manager for a Fortune 500 company right now, but your first position as a computer programmer might put you back into a shared cubicle, working on non-essential projects. The bigger the change, the higher probability that you’ll have to start back at the beginning.
7. Make connections in your desired field as soon as possible. Do you know anyone in your prospective field? Can you do an internship or volunteer? Is there a part-time position available to get your feet wet? It’s so easy to connect with people today, it shouldn’t be too challenging to find someone you can talk to and begin networking.
Think carefully before changing careers. Ideally, this will be the only time you’ll need to change careers! Determine what your current career is lacking and find a new career that ticks all your boxes. Understand that you may have to begin your new career at the very beginning. But if you choose wisely, you won’t even mind.