The topic of how to navigate a career change has been front and center in many discussions of late, especially given the residual effects felt by the pandemic. Covid has caused an almost unprecedented number of people to rethink their lives and careers, and reevaluate what they think is really important. And while a career change can be a daunting prospect, often accompanied by some growing pains, it can also be an exciting one and hugely rewarding. Seeking a new career, or maybe even a dream job, deserves a carefully crafted approach to ensure that what you end up with does check all the boxes. If you’re thinking of making a change, there are a few things you should keep in mind to set yourself up for success. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Look at the comprehensive picture
The transition to a new career can be difficult, but it’s important that you think of the long-term implications. You may need more than just a change in jobs; there are other factors at play here such as location and family considerations which should also factor into your decision-making process if they’re relevant for what kind of lifestyle is sought after by a new job title or industry would offer me post-career switch.
2. Develop a plan
An effective career change requires careful planning and execution. What steps do you need to take in order for you to transition from one job/career path, into another? How will knowing if this was successful help with achieving those long-term goals that are still on the table for grabs?
3. Look forward 5 to 10 years
Your career shouldn’t just be about what you want to do now; it should be about what you want to do down the line. What kind of position do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years from now? What kind of company do you want to work for? What skills do you need to acquire in order to get there?
4. Use your network
Your network is a valuable resource for any professional looking to make the jump into something new. Tap into those connections and ask about their insight on what could work best with your career interests, they might be able to give some great advice or help transition you smoothly!
5. Consider further education
Many people choose to change careers at some point in their lives. For some, a career change may simply involve taking on a new gig in a similar field. However, for others, a successful career change may require going back to school or completing additional training. When considering making a change, it is important to ask yourself if further education is necessary for the position you’re interested in. Is it something you’re willing and able to do? If you’re not sure, there are a few things you can do to find out. Talk to people who are already working in the field you’re interested in. They can tell you about their own experiences and share any advice they have. You can also research the education and training requirements for the position you’re interested in. Once you have all the information, you can make an informed decision about whether or not further education is right for you.
6. Consider a possible shift within your current company
Before making a complete break from your current situation, consider whether there might be opportunities for growth within your company. Talk to your boss or HR department and see if there are any positions that might be a better fit for your interests and skill set.
7. Embrace your transferable skills
When making a shift in your career, it’s important to remember that you already have valuable experience and skills. Your new field may be different than the last one but there are certain things like work ethic or leadership qualities that will always apply no matter what job they put us in! Think about how these transferrable traits could help your effectiveness on any given project – then use them accordingly.
8. Focus on the value you bring, not the qualifications you have
In order to appeal to the hiring manager’s attention and demonstrate value, it is important that we think in terms of what our skills can offer. We should focus less on qualifications and more on how they will benefit from an employee with those particular abilities.
9. Leverage your passion and live your values
Find ways to combine what inspires and excites you with the work that will be required in your new role. If possible, try looking for an opportunity where your values, passions, and professional goals can thrive simultaneously. To learn more about honing in on your values and how to live those values, contact us and we’ll share a worksheet you can use.
10. Be candid with yourself
Honesty is the key to finding your own happiness. If you’re not 100% satisfied with whatever decision comes out of it, don’t hesitate and make another one! Be sure that any commitments are ones that will make YOU happy in order for them to be good enough – take time to assess all options before committing yourself so there isn’t regret later on down road when things get tough. Honesty also allows you to differentiate between what is expected of you, or what you think is expected of you versus what you really want. Not everyone needs (or really wants) to be a Fortune 100 executive.
11. Set Realistic Expectations
Like we said before, a career change is not always going to be an easy road. So it’s important to have realistic expectations about what you can and cannot handle. If you’re not sure you can handle a drastically reduced salary, for example, then a career change might not be the right move for you—at least not yet. Be honest with yourself about what you can manage and make sure you have a solid plan in place before making any big changes.
12. Take Your Time
A career change is a big deal—don’t rush into it without doing your research first. Make sure you have a clear plan and goals that you’re striving towards. This way, you won’t end up making a split-second decision that could have negative consequences further down the road.
13. Don’t Change for the Sake of Change
Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too. The grass is always greener on the other side, so stepping back and being objective can really come in handy here. If you’re thinking about making a transition ask yourself why. Do you simply not like your current job? Have you considered a shift within your current organization? If you are in good standing and have a solid reputation, many companies would rather have you add value elsewhere, instead of leaving. Have you been wanting to change careers for a long time? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and need something new? Or are you just following the latest trend? If it’s the latter, then you might want to pump the brakes and reconsider your motivations. After all, a career change should be something that’s right for YOU—not something you’re doing just because it seems like the thing to do.
14. Don’t leave because you don’t get along with your boss
Many of us have been there. You can’t stand your boss, so you say it’s time to leave. Not so fast! Sure, there will be cases, for example, with some family-run businesses where your boss IS the family and they’re not going anywhere. If it’s a large enough company, consider exploring other opportunities within the organization. Take ownership of how you have contributed to the quality of your relationship with the boss. There may still be ways to improve that relationship. Working with a coach can help here. See #15, below.
15. Consider hiring a career coach
Last but not least, there are many ways to make a desirable transition from one job offer or career path into another, and sometimes another perspective can be just what you need to challenge your own assumptions. Working with a reputable, certified career coach can help assess your skills, interests, values, and CV, and provide guidance and the occasional tip on what you should do next based on those needs; they may also be able to link the dots between different jobs that would suit both parties well enough until something better comes along!
If you’re telling yourself “I need a career change”, it might. feel daunting, but if done correctly, they can also lead to immense satisfaction professionally—and personally! So if you’re considering making a switch, consider what’s happening in the job market, take your time, and keep these 15 things in mind throughout the process so that you set yourself up for success. Better yet hire a coach to be your guide on the side in the process. Whatever you do, take your next step through the lens of what is most important to you. Best of luck!
To learn more about developing leadership skills, have a look at this article. To get help with your career transition and accelerate your professional and personal growth, talk to a certified career change coach. Discover what is possible. Contact Bridgeline Executive Coaching.
Written by Nick Tubach, MBA, PCC