It remains essential to find a proper balance when considering the long-term impact and immediate responsibility associated with a life shift as powerful as a career change. It can be all too easy to teeter between confidence that change is a good thing and the tendency to favor what is familiar. Our current economic climate has made career changes a matter of necessity rather than free will for many people.
With this in mind, a level of desperation can creep into the job-hunting process and cause additional stress. Many people who would love to change careers may not know where to start or what factors make switching jobs worthwhile. This article will attempt to break down the steps to a successful career change and provide resources for determining if a new job path is the right choice for you at this time.
Common Reasons for Making a Career Change
Making a career change is a personal and powerful choice. The reasons that a person may choose to make such a change are as diverse as people themselves. For many who have been in a career for some time, there may just be a pressing need for a new challenge. Spending too much time at a work plateau becomes boring and unfulfilling.
Working parents may seek a better work-life balance so that they can spend more time with their children. Other common reasons include the desire for better pay, the feeling that a current position is too stressful to be maintained, and the loss of passion within a certain line of work.
Of course, your career change could just be motivated by the loss of a recent job. Take stock of whether this job was lost due to performance or the economy. Either way, learning experiences can be had out of what seems negative at first. Losing your job can mean learning valuable things about yourself. It can also give you the chance to rectify mistakes in your next position, seek out the job of your dreams, and make a positive out of the initial hardship.
Any reason for a career change is a valid reason so long as it supports the professional future you wish to build for yourself.
Four Things to Consider Before Making a Career Change
The first step in making a rewarding career change is determining whether you really need one or if you just need a break from your current work situation. While there is not much that feels worse than dreading work each day, this may signal the necessity for a new gig or workplace inertia. Here’s how to tell the difference:
Take Stock of Yourself
Do you come home from work each day exhausted and feeling unfulfilled? Do the tasks of your job routine feel like they do not fit your personality? These problems can represent signs you are ready for a career change.
List out your particular skills, even those that may not be specifically relegated to the work life you have led. For example, if you have been working in interior design for your whole career, you may not have had the opportunity to use your typing skills as much. Don’t underestimate any part of your abilities, as these items can provide great bullet points during interviews when asked about what you can bring to your new job.
Create a “Dream Jobs” List
While some workers who have become seasoned in a given profession may feel they cannot change gears in midlife or that dream jobs stay in dreams, this step is critical. There is no purpose in a career change if you only go from one job that you do not care about to another. Be honest with yourself about what you really want to do.
Explore Your Options
A career change demands a certain amount of research. You should begin to narrow your list of dream jobs by conducting some informational interviews. Make contact with hiring managers and employees at the companies you have an interest in. Ask the hard questions — especially the ones that pertain to job elements that could potentially make you feel spent, like in your soon-to-be previous career.
As the fear of change can be a major factor contributing to job stagnation, you don’t want to make a career change only to find out that it is no change at all or only a change of location. Use what you find from your informational interviews to set clear goals about what you expect to get out of your new job. Whether salary or flexible scheduling options are your priority, find out every detail you can so that you can make an educated and realistic decision.
Generate a Career Change Action Plan
This step can take many forms. Maybe you need to make a physical document, jot main goals in a journal, or just talk to a trusted family member about your plans. Whatever your approach, do not skip this crucial step because writing something down or talking it over with loved ones makes you more accountable when it comes to following through.
Also, seeing your plan on paper or hearing the reactions of people who know you well can take a measure of fear out of the process of your career change and give you needed confidence that you can utilize to promote yourself during interviews.
Once you have completed these initial career change steps, you can begin applying in fields or areas that interest you. You may find that your initial interest list has doubled or been cut in half by the information you unearth in the research process. Either way, start thinking of reasonable time frames in which you could feasibly make your job move, and don’t forget to factor in appropriate notice periods at your present position.
Why Now Is the Best Time for a Career Change
In the past, workers tended to learn a specific trade or skill set, get a job, and not take continuing education steps thereafter. Statistics show that workers from the baby boom era held about 12 jobs between the ages of 18 to 52.
The millennial gig economy and the general fast-paced nature of the world today indicate that failing to keep up with the dynamic flow of change governing nearly every industry can mean that your job outgrows your skills before you know it. With everyone spending more time at home, giving us more time for serious self-reflection, now might be the perfect time to plan your career change in a way that is most compatible with what you really want to be doing.
While no one is likely to rejoice at the high unemployment rates that have characterized the COVID-19 pandemic, the silver lining rests on the chance for everyone to regroup. If you have wanted to pursue a different path, now is the time. Even if you are not hired right away, you can still use this time to lay the best possible groundwork for your desired future.
While a career change can easily inspire nervous feelings during the best of times, many people are finding the rare opportunity for change that the current situation allows that easier circumstances might not have inspired.
Still Not Sure About a Career Change?
Are you still worried that your feelings of job restlessness are less a midlife career crisis and more just temporary boredom or pandemic nerves? It is natural and wise to be cautious about changes this big, and there are plenty of ways to figure out your fears.
If doubts about a possible career change are still creeping in, consider taking one or more of the following steps to build greater career change confidence:
Give it a trial run: Try out your potential career change by shadowing someone you admire in that field. Then, follow up by networking with friends or colleagues who work in the professions that interest you.
Polish your skills in your current position: Test the career change waters with your current employer’s in-house training. Express your desire to expand your skills by volunteering to assist a senior executive, writing a grant for the company, or taking on new responsibilities to learn more about your field.
Make a lateral move: Talk to your boss about switching gears within your current company. A change in daily duties or even office surroundings could tell you a lot about how ready you are for bigger shifts. If you do well at your lateral move and are still interested in working for the same company, ask your boss after a few months if you can submit a resume for the job you really want.
A career change is more than just a difference in the work landscape; it can also set off feelings of displacement and confusion. Talk to a career counselor about your concerns and ask about the resources he or she may have that can help you feel good about your decision.
Benefits of Making a Career Change
Just as a person’s reason for seeking a career change can be very different from their neighbor’s, so can the benefits. Many factors can play a part in determining your benefits, how fast they will arrive, and how numerous they will be.
A “benefit” can mean a sought-after raise or just a boost in happiness. For many, the purposeful living associated with doing something truly enjoyable translates to greater overall fulfillment.
This can happen with or without notable changes in pay.
Another thrill for many is the excitement that is typically connected with making a career change. No more stagnation makes for more energy to do the things you truly want to do, both at work and at home.
Some people are guilty of chronic self-underestimation until they successfully shift careers. They may wrongly believe they do not have the time, energy, or intellectual ability to make a big work shift. Getting the chance to upskill and pivot lets you make the most of your unique assets, realize your potential as an employee, and this means you can get much more out of your job than a mere paycheck.
Tidying Up Career Change Loose Ends
There are a few final components of a successful career change that may seem small but can generate big outcomes. One such detail is the mandatory social media cleanup you should conduct before putting in new job applications anywhere.
Go through your posts and eliminate any images or words that could be misinterpreted. It is a good idea to govern your social media accounts as though they are set to public, even when they are not. Recruiters and supervisors could easily gain access and possibly make hiring and firing decisions based on your online profiles alone.
Be ready to answer interview questions about why you are making this change at this time. Many people may worry about explaining the career change to a new boss. Just be honest about your reasons and use respectful discretion when discussing your dissatisfaction with any previous job.
Likewise, you should revamp your resume and cover letter to reflect what you hope your career change will bring about in your professional life. Feature former positions that directly correlate to the job you want. If there are not currently any such kinds of experience, emphasize specific skills that pertain to your industry of interest.
After deciding that you’re ready for a career change, you should take advantage of Joblist’s resources, including access to millions of jobs all in one place. You’ll receive a personalized list of available jobs, whether you’re searching by location, industry, or company.