Changing Careers

Walton (Lawyer --> Music Therapist)


As technology is continuously advancing, our generation faces many more challenges than previous generations. In the past, it was common for people to work at one place for twenty or more years until they retired. In today's society, that rarely happens. Whether it's someone's choice to switch careers, or they've lost their job due to company downsizing, many people go through several career changes in their lifetime. Changing careers can be difficult, but not impossible
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Considering a Change: Exploring Your Options

Before hastily changing your career, you need to do some self-assessment. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your values and interests?
  • What skills do you already have?
  • What kind of environment do you prefer working in?
  • How important is money to you?

After you've answered these questions, begin researching careers that interest you. Talk to people who do the type of work you are considering. Use all resources such as the internet, articles, seminars, etc. After you've done your research, you can begin planning on where to go from there.

Example: Melanie is a currently a lawyer, but lately has become dissatisfied with her work. She gives herself time to evaluate herself. She realizes she values music and is interested in helping people. She is highly skilled in the practice of law, and has some music skills from her time in high school band. She hates working in such an uptight environment and would prefer somewhere more relaxing. She earns a large paycheck as a lawyer, but thinks she would be happier if she worked in the field of music. She thinks music therapy would be a good career for her.

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Developing a Plan: Mapping Your Moves

After you've decided on what career you want to pursue, you need to come up with a game plan.

  • Figure out what skills are required for that job. Do you need to go back to school or do you already have the skills you need?
  • Keep track of where you stand financially. Money may be tight while going through a career change, so develop a budget.

Example: Melanie learns that she would need at least a bachelor's degree in music and would have to go back to school to become a music therapist. She evaluates her financial situation and determines if works part-time at her firm, then she would be in decent shape to pursue her education.

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Making the Change: Burning No Bridges

After deciding to switch your career, it's crucial not to ruin any relationships with past employers/co-workers. Burning bridges with former employers can hurt your chances of landing a new job.

  • Once you've found a new job, give a proper notice to your current employer.
  • Let customers and clients outside the business know you're changing jobs.

Example: Melanie has gone back to school and earned her bachelor' degree in music. She starts looking for a position as a music therapist immediately. Once she's been hired at a new company, she gives her employer a written notice that she will be leaving in two weeks. She also contacts her clients and explains to them her change in careers.

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Beginning the New Journey: Showcasing Your Experience

Beginning a new career may be frustrating at first, but make the best of it.

  • If you need help, don't be afraid to speak up. It's better to ask your boss for help than waste time trying to figure it out yourself.
  • Try not to compare your new company to your old company. Focus on the company you are presently working for and polishing the skills you need to work for them.

Example: Melanie is struggling on her first day of work. She wants to know how he boss wants paperwork done. She finds her boss and he shows her how to do it. Melanie thought paperwork at her old company was easier, but decides that comparing her old company to her new company isn't going to help her. She makes herself focus on perfecting her career as a music therapist instead.

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Hannon, Kerry. "What's Next? Ten Tips for Career Changers." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 06 Feb. 2011. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

Spencer, Linda. "5 Tips for Changing Careers." 5 Tips for Changing Careers. N.p., 25 June 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

"Starting a New Job: Getting Used to Your New Role." Starting a New Job. N.p., 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.