Career change is fast becoming the mainstay of work cultures across the globe.
For some people, it may come as a sudden decision; while for others, it might come as an accumulation of various thoughts over several years that finally culminated into a decision. Whatever the reasons are, changing careers has become more apparent than ever.
However, making a blind career change can be daunting and stressful. Make sure you take into account the following eight important factors before jumping off the ship.
1. Consider Why You Aren’t Satisfied with Your Present Career
Most people leave their existing career without much reflection simply because they feel stuck in a less-than-enjoyable job. Are you one of these people? Are you changing your career because you want to run away from a bad job? If this is the case, you are probably making the biggest mistake of your life.
Job-related stress, long working hours, and annoying colleagues are all valid reasons to change your job, not your career. So what are the genuine reasons behind a career switch? Maybe one of the following:
- One of the most common reasons is choosing a wrong career from the start. Sometimes, a parent or a family member or the economic circumstances may force you to take up a profession that you don’t belong to.
- Most people realize that their passion lies outside the scope of their current career option. If you are one of these people, changing your career may be the right thing to do.
- Career burnout (different from just hating your job) is also a genuine reason for switching careers.
- Sometimes, personal circumstances may also require you to make a career switch. For example, moving to a new country or city may require a career change.
Whatever the reason is, make sure it is worth making the switch for.
2. Identify Your Goals
Leaving your previous career for the right reasons is just the first-half of the equation. The second-half of the equation is identifying your goals. When making a well-planned career move, you must clarify your goals first. Usually, career-change goals involve the following:
- Achieving new skills is a common goal associated with career switch. Though you may have plenty of transferable skills, you still need to acquire a few new ones to succeed in your chosen field.
- You may also have to set a few financial goals because most career transitions will affect your finances in one way or another. From your daily expenses to the retirement plan, everything will need an analysis as you make the career transition.
- You may also need to set some networking goals right, as your career change will require you to connect with professionals from a different field and befriend them.
Having clear objectives means you can focus your efforts on the essential aspects that are required to achieve your goals, instead of worrying about unnecessary things. Plus, it will allow you to utilize your time wisely.
3. Consider the Effects on Your Personal Brand
Every individual has a set of unique qualities, talents, and experiences that turn him into a personal brand. You will need to consider the various effects your career transition will have on your brand value and proactively take steps to protect it. In short, analyze the pros and cons of your new career move carefully.
- Make sure to show that your move is motivated by personal values and not external factors. This is the best way to demonstrate your true brand value.
- What you do during the transition period is going to define your brand value. Take up a new hobby or volunteer with an organization that will help you sharpen the skills.
- Make your online profiles as consistent as possible. Inconsistency in online
profiles is rather looked down upon, particularly during a career change.
- Speak positively about your career transition. Above all, don’t badmouth your past career choice or employer.
4. Think about How It Will Affect Your Personal Life
Even a well-planned career transition is going to affect your finances, which in turn, will affect your personal life. It will also affect your work-life balance.
- Speak with your family members including your children (if they are old enough) about your possible career shift. Make sure your family is on board with the revised budget and change in lifestyle.
- Consider your new work-life balance. Will it be possible for you to cope up with the new working hours?
- You may also have to juggle between your personal and professional responsibilities in the beginning. Will you be comfortable with this change?
Whether or not making a career change is worth these sacrifices is entirely your decision. However, make sure to consider how it will affect your personal life carefully before making a decision.
5. Go Back to School
Though you may have a few transferable skills, your new career might require you to head back to school to acquire new skills. This may involve taking a couple of weekend courses or online tutorials. However, you will still need to invest considerable time and money in learning these skills.
- The first thing you need to do is to find out whether pursuing further education is the only way to acquire new skills. Sometimes, you can re-frame your previous experience or get an internship to learn the new skills.
- If going back to school is the only way, consider how you are going to pay for it. Are you willing to pay out of your pocket, such as from your savings, retirement fund, or maybe the 401K account?
- Going back to school involves adjusting your priorities. You may have to prepare for a weekly test instead of attending your daughter’s talent contest. Is your spouse going to do the extra legwork while you are busy studying?
Create an action plan to deal with such possibilities when planning a career shift.
6. Figure out the Future Prospects
When it comes to making a career transition, thinking about the long-term prospects always helps. You must evaluate how the career change will establish you in the future.
- Is this career option going to pay you a handsome amount in the future? Sometimes, a career change means starting all over again, i.e. from the bottom of the Maslow’s pyramid. Make sure the new career option will guarantee financial as well as cognitive comfort in the future.
- Is working in the new field going to sharpen your certain skills that will make you even more marketable in the future? If the new job isn’t going to contribute to your resume or performance, why waste your time, money and effort?
- Will there be new openings in this field? If so, what are those? If the industry is likely to shrink, you should reconsider your decision or look for a different career path.
In other words, find out as much as you can about the future possibilities before making a decision.
7. Consult a Career Coach
Switching careers is a huge decision that requires stepping out of your comfort zone and making some difficult choices. Getting help from a career coach can bring more clarity to your decision.
- First, you need to decide what type of coach you would need to consult. For example, if you need help with your communication skills, you should work with someone who specializes in that area.
- Unfortunately, career coaching is an unregulated industry. So, you need to be thorough when looking for an expert. Check out how many people have they helped and get their client’s feedback before hiring someone.
- Most career coaches offer free consultation, which is the best way to learn about their expertise, approach, and style.
- Consult someone who can connect with you. After all, a firm intellectual interaction between you and the coach is the backbone of a successful coaching relationship.
However, you must remember that a career coach isn’t a counselor or a teacher. They can offer you industry-specific knowledge. But, whether or not you should act on that knowledge is entirely your decision.
8. Create Plan B
So, you have taken each of the above factors into consideration before making the career change! You have created a plan of action, and are taking each step according to it. Everything seems to be going well. Still, you shouldn’t go ahead with your decision without having a Plan B in place.
Various external factors, ranging from social and economic conditions to personal and family-related issues, may affect your career transition. It is, therefore, better to have a backup plan.
- Make sure you have other career options open in case the new one fails to produce the desired outcomes.
- Just like your first career option, you need to prepare an action plan for your next career choice (Plan B). Make the blueprint before severing all ties with your present profession.
- It is always worth creating a Plan B. However, it is even better to have a Plan C in place, particularly in today’s ever-changing social and economic atmosphere.
In my opinion, you should hope for the best and expect the worst.
The number of people switching their career seems to be increasing, particularly among millennials. Though you can benefit tremendously from a career transition, this decision needs a lot of thought because one wrong move can result in a huge setback.
Taking these eight important aspects into consideration will help steer your decision in the right direction. Feel free to tell me about what else can be considered before switching careers in the comments section below.