The prospect of a new career is exciting. It evolves from the relief of shedding a dull, dead end job into the exhilaration of having all your untapped and forgotten dreams brought back to life. Deciding to quit, or in some cases being forced to, means you have another chance to do something that will make you happy and fulfilled.
It is easy to get lost in enthusiasm. In your eagerness to get started on your new life, you may throw your old one out too soon. You may apply to companies you are not qualified for and get disheartened when they reject you. Changing careers is a difficult, slow process. It is important to pace yourself so that you are not overwhelmed when things do not go your way.
Having goals will keep you on track through mood swings of doubt and impatience. This is the advice that most people who have changed careers will give you. They can share their goals or steps with you. Some people have pages and pages of precautions they took. Others have a handful of tips.
Everything you need to do before changing careers can be summarized by six steps.
1) Consider Why
Are you changing careers for the right reason? This is the very first thing you should think about, and it should not be taken lightly. Having a terrible boss or hostile co workers makes you hate your job. It does not mean that you hate your career.
Take some time to sit down and think about why you want to leave. Was your current career ever a dream of yours? If so, what changed? Industries evolve all the time. It is possible that the field you are in changed around you. Another industry may now fit the description of what you were looking for when you joined the work force.
Have you gone as far as you could? Maybe your career does not challenge you anymore. Ambitious people need room to grow and a dying industry does the opposite.
Whatever your reason for leaving your job, it is important that you analyze it. The root cause may be more easily fixed than an entire career change. Committing to such a drastic alteration requires the right attitude.
2) Ask Yourself: Is this the Right Time?
Unless you are switching to a similar field, you will have to start at the bottom of the new career’s ladder. That means lower pay, no seniority, and a major blow to your ego. Your new co workers, and even your boss, are likely to be younger than you. You should not take that personally but it is hard not to be effected by it.
You may also have to go back to school to get the education and certifications required for your new employer. College takes time. Working a full time job to pay living expenses while also attending school, means compromising your free time.
The rest of your life should be stable in order to withstand a huge change. The biggest factor in this is your love life. Whether you are getting divorced or trying for a baby, you need to focus on one thing at a time. A new career can wait. If you put too much on yourself at once, you risk losing everything.
3) Assess Your Skills
Once you have decided that you are ready for a new career, make sure your resume is. It will be filled with skills and experiences you needed for your old job. Those are all irrelevant now.
Find out what you will need for your new career. You can flesh out your resume with relevant volunteer work, certification classes, and professional meeting attendance. This will improve your interviews as well. Employers want to see that potential employees have a decent working knowledge of the industry and can speak the jargon.
If you are not sure what career to choose yet, assessing the skills you already have can help you decide. Free assessment tests, like the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator or Strong Interest Inventory, are available online. They can give you insight into what fields are most compatible with both your skills and passions.
4) Do Research
The requirements for the career are not the only thing you should research. Know the industry. Is it on the rise, or struggling to stay in business? Is there room for promotion? Are there many job openings in general? Leaving your comfortable job for one that may not be around long is not a wise decision.
However, it is important to work somewhere that makes you happy. You should not choose a job for money but you do need to eat. Decide how much of a cut you are willing to take to your salary, long time, before choosing a company to work for. The company you choose should share your core values. If they do not, you will be back to working for something you do not believe in.
5) Overcome Fear by Implementing Goals
At some point along the change, you are going to get scared. It would be weird if you did not. Up to this point you have done things a certain way, and while they are not satisfactory, they are at least getting you by.
Changing careers risks everything in your life. You can do it; people do all the time. That phrase, though, will pop into your head despite all the excitement you have built up. Be prepared for it.
Having goals keeps you in control of the situation. When doubt creeps up, the entire process will seem overwhelming. Your goals allow you to tackle your life altering situation in a series of little obstacles that are not nearly so frightening.
You should have goals of three lengths. An example of a short term one is looking a class up online. A medium length goal would be to take that class. Long term objectives are necessary too, though they can be broken up into many shorter ones as well. A long term goal could be graduating college or passing the Bar Exam.
6) Lay Groundwork
Set those goals on groundwork first. If you are going to be taking a pay cut, plan to set aside some money. Figure out who you need to know to break into the business, and make it an objective to meet each figurehead. Changing careers is a big deal. Make sure you are prepared.