If you are unhappy in your current career and are thinking about making a change, you’re not alone. In fact, research has shown that the average American employee will change careers a whopping 3-7 times during their working years! The reasons for this are as diverse as we are. Some of us long for more fulfilling work, others yearn for a better work-life balance, while some might be forced into a career shift due to circumstances beyond their control.
Whatever is motivating you at this moment, a new career is a big change–and change can be scary. The key to navigating change is to make a plan–because by doing so, you take control of the change. (It’s much easier, and more peaceful, to navigate a life change when you are driving the change rather than the change driving you.) That being said, let’s look at five considerations that should become part of your game plan when transitioning careers.
1. Take Inventory of Your Skills and Passions
This step involves looking past your work experience to the talents and interests that you have–the things that make you good at what you do, as well as the things that cause you to enjoy certain types of work. The idea here is to get to your root motivations–your “why”–because you want to reimagine these talents and skills of yours in a new context. Simon Sinek’s books Start with Why and Find Your Why can be a great place to start.
Remember, your abilities extend beyond what you’ve learned in your current job. Perhaps you’re a great organizer or have a knack for persuasion. These ‘soft’ skills are highly sought after in many industries. Try using online assessment tools or career tests to discover your strengths and passions.
2. Research the Job Market
By this, I don’t necessarily mean look at the economy–in other words, don’t worry so much about how many jobs are available right this moment. Those dynamics change, sometimes month to month. Rather, I mean research the job market as far as discovering new industries and roles that align with the interests and passions you discovered in the previous step. Just as an example, if you are not enjoying your current job in accounting, but you’re passionate about the technology you’re using and have excellent problem-solving skills, you might consider exploring new roles within IT or software development. Focus on the parts of your job that you do like and brainstorm how those skills might serve you in a new role.
3. Evaluate Your Education and Training
Your passions should inform your new career, but you may also need some additional practical training to qualify for a new role. If you’re interested in becoming a counselor but you have a background in marketing, you’ll likely need further education. Look into part-time study options or online courses that could make this transition smoother. If no additional training is needed but you lask experience, explore the possibility of finding a mentor within your field of interest who can show you the ropes a bit and possibly open some doors for you.
4. Develop a Financial Plan
Changing careers often means adjusting to a new income level, at least temporarily. Make sure to consider your financial situation and how a potential salary change may impact your lifestyle. It’s wise to save enough money to cover living expenses for a few month months before making the switch. If necessary, talk to an accountant or a financial advisor to help you develop a strategy so finances don’t become an unwanted stressor.
5. Seek Support
Finally, it’s much easier to navigate a life change when you have a good support system versus going it alone. Reach out to family and friends you trust, let them know your intentions, and allow them to be a source of encouragement when needed. There may also be people within your network who can provide advice or insight (although you may need to practice discretion with this if your current job could be jeopardized by your intended career shift). Most importantly, a career coach can provide invaluable guidance and support during this transition. They can offer insights, help you set realistic goals, and keep you accountable as you navigate this important change.
Transitioning to a new career is not without its challenges. You’ll likely face resistance, discouragement, and setbacks along the way. However, remember that growth often comes from stepping outside our comfort zone. Embrace the uncertainty, stay resilient, and keep your ultimate goal in sight. Remember…change happens. Take control!
If you need additional guidance in transitioning to your new career, I’m here to help. To schedule a free initial consultation, just click here to access my calendar.