If you’re thinking about making a career change, schedule a meeting with yourself – or two or five, because you’ll need to be exceedingly sure about this decision – and ask yourself some hard questions.
We’ve listed some of the best below.
- What is it that’s making you think about changing careers? If you’re unhappy at work, why? Is it your boss, your co-workers? Is the work dull or too challenging? Do you feel you’re unsuited for the work? It’s been our experience that the best career changes happen because the changer is running to something, not from something. Changing careers because you’re unhappy where you are currently is running from. Instead of changing careers, all you may need to do is change companies.
- If you’ve already decided what you’re going to run to, think about what you’ll lose when you leave your current career. You will have to give up something to gain something you want more. Think about all the things you like about your current situation. Perhaps you have a large salary. Or your colleagues, subordinates and superiors highly respect you. Are you well-respected within your business sector? These are all important things to think about because moving to a new career will mean there’s a lot you will have to learn, you may have to take a cut in salary, you’ll have to prove yourself all over again, and more. Can you handle this?
- How much have you researched your chosen new field? Never make a career change without thoroughly vetting it. Talk to people who work in it, who retired from it, who love what they do, who hate what they do. See if you can work in it yourself a bit or volunteer in it. Talking, reading and doing will help your take off the rose colored glasses you may be wearing about the profession before it’s too late.
- Research how much your current skills will translate to the new field. The more your current skills will work in the new profession, the easier your transition will be. If you’ll need to learn new skills, try to learn them while still working in your current career.
Thinking hard about the pros and cons of making a switch to a new career will help you either a) decide to go for it or b) realize that it’s just not the right time or thing to do. There’s no shame in deciding to stay put; choosing not to make a switch if you find that it’s not as interesting as you thought or because the transition would be too hard and disruptive can be the right choice.
Understand also that you don’t have to make the switch in one swoop. In fact, most career changers make the switch slowly, over time, by researching and talking to people, learning new skills, volunteering and working part-time in the field to gain experience, and then parlaying their contacts gained from volunteering/working part time into a full-time position within the career.