Changing Careers

How to Guide

Step #1 - Considering a Change

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Should you change careers?

1. Is there really a problem with your career?

In order to answer the big question, ask yourself several other questions to help decide whether you’re ready to leave your current career:

  • Is my career making me happy?
  • Am I fulfilled in my career?
  • Is this my career because I enjoy it or because of the praise/ money/peer pressure /etc.?
  • Is my career stopping me from doing things I enjoy outside of work?
  • What’s my personal definition of future success in this career?
  • Am I confident of achieving my definition of future success in this career?

2. You might need new skills

Consider whether or not you’re willing to learn new skills. Chances are if you commit to changing careers you will need to learn new skills appropriate to your career choice.

3. Can you afford it?

It’d be nice if we didn’t have to consider money when thinking about work options but unfortunately some of us do! Take into account where you stand financially when considering a career change, but don’t stay with your current career just for the money if the work itself is making you unhappy. No amount of money equates to happiness.

4. Maybe your job search skills just need help

If you’re currently out of work, don’t jump to the conclusion that you need a career change just because you’re not finding any work within your current field. Re-assess your job search instead: Review your CV to see if it’s relevant enough to the roles you’re applying for. Practice your interview technique with a friend. Connect with your network to find out about unadvertised jobs.

5. Take an honest look back

Of course, being out of work may be just the motivation you need to make a career change, if it genuinely would be the right move for you. Even if you don’t currently have a job you can still assess how happy you are in your current career area by asking yourself the above questions about your previous positions.

Which career should you change to?

6. Follow your talent and passion

Think about what career you’d like to change to by considering what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about.

7. What about you impresses others

How do you define your talents and passions? Start right back from your childhood. What did people praise you for? What did you end up spending most of your spare time doing? Make a list and continue recalling your strengths and hobbies all the way through to the present day.

8. Full-time?

Consider not only the content of your ideal career but also the structure of it e.g. work out if you’d like to switch from full-time to part-time, or vice-versa.

9. Know your redlines

Get clear not only on what you want to do, but also on what you don’t want to do. What are you willing to negotiate over and what are you not?

10. Focus on one new direction only

By the way, if you think trying to pursue several career options at once is a good idea, it isn’t. The ‘scattergun’ approach will probably result in missing all the targets. If you focus on one career, one target- you’re more likely to get what you want.

Step #2 - Developing a Plan

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1. Evaluate your current job satisfaction
If you are considering a career change, first you must evaluate your current job satisfaction. Keep daily notes regarding your satisfaction or dissatisfaction at your current job and determine if there is a recurring theme. Which aspects of your current job do you like or dislike? Is your dissatisfaction with your current job related to your job duties, the company culture, or the people you work with? Once you decide what you like or don’t like about your current job, it will be easier to determine which career will be right for you.

2. Assess your interests and skills
In order to choose the right career, you need to assess your interests and skills. Review past successful roles – whether at a job, a volunteer organization, or professional group. In which type of roles did you excel? You may also want to take a career personality test to determine the type of job that is right for you based on your personality and interests.

3. Make a list of career alternatives
Determine your core values and strengths by talking to the people who know you best: family, friends, networking contacts, former co-workers, etc. Ask for advice regarding potential career paths you are considering, and be open to feedback. The people closest to you might be able to provide valuable input regarding potential career choices.

4. Research the fields that interest you
The only way you can know for sure if a potential new career path is right for you is to research it. Find out what type of educational background your new career requires, as well as job duties that are involved. Determine if you have any transferable skills from your current career that can be applied to the new career path you want to pursue.

5. Look for ways to develop new skills
Look for ways you can develop new skills in your current job. For example, if you currently work as a web designer and you want to pursue a career in marketing, offer to assist with writing content for the company website or provide your ideas for improving your company’s marketing campaign.

6. Investigate educational opportunities
If your new field requires a specific type of degree, consider taking classes while you’re at your current job. You may even want to consider contacting professional groups in your targeted field for suggestions. In some cases, you may still be able to obtain an entry level job in your field of interest while you are working on your degree. Accelerated degree programs can help you complete the career transition faster and should be considered.

7. Network
The most effective way to discover new career opportunities is to start connecting with people who are already doing what you want to do. Be creative in your approach to contacting people who are influential in your chosen industry.

8. Be willing to start over
In most cases, a career change means you have to go back to square one. It can mean less money, less seniority, fewer benefits, and having to prove yourself all over again. If you’re not willing to make these types of sacrifices, you may want to reconsider your decision. Keep in mind that opportunities will increase as you grow in your new field. If the new career promises a great sense of fulfillment in the long run, a little sacrifice now might be worth it.

Step #3 - Making the Change

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Step 1: Gaining Experience. Remember that, in a sense, you are starting your career again from square one. Obtaining a part-time job or volunteering in your new career field not only can solidify your decision, but give you much needed experience in your new career. You might also want to consider temping in your new field. Work weekends, nights, whatever it takes to gain the experience.

Step 2: Find a Mentor. Changing careers is a major life decision that can get overwhelming at times. Find a mentor who can help you through the rough patches. Your mentor may also be able to help you by taking advantage of his or her network. A mentor doesn't have to be a highly placed individual, though the more powerful the mentor, the more success you may have in using that power to your advantage.

Step 3: Changing In or Out. Some people change careers, but never change employers. Unfortunately, only the very progressive employers recognize that once happy employees can be happy and productive again - in a different capacity. It's more than likely that you will need to switch employers to change fields, but don't overlook your current employer. Remember not to start asking about a job switch until you are completely ready to do so.

Step 4: Job-Hunting Basics. If it's been a while since you've had to use your job-hunting tools and skills, now is the time for a refresher course. Consider spending some time with one or more of our tutorials. Key tools include:

Step 5: Be Flexible. You'll need to be flexible about nearly everything - from your employment status to relocation and salary. Set positive goals for yourself, but expect setbacks and change - and don't let these things get you down. Besides totally new careers, you might also consider a lateral move that could serve as a springboard for a bigger career change. You might also consider starting your own business or consulting as other avenues.

Step #4 - Beginning the New Journey

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Learn fast, work hard, be effective. (From my mind)