By Wendy Mihm | Tuesday November 30, 2010
Considering changing careers? Here are some things you should consider before you trade your employer’s ID badge for a graduate school or other ID.
Changing Careers Vs. Making Life Adjustments
First, make sure it’s your career that needs to change, and not just some other aspect of your life. We all get bogged down sometimes, but because we go to work every day, it’s easy to blame a rut on your job. I hate it when people tell me I need a new hobby, so I will spare you that. But maybe you need to rediscover how much fun your girlfriends are. You might be surprised at how much you’ll all be rejuvenated by a standing lunch and movie/pedicure/tennis/ date one Saturday each month. Or how much you and your husband/partner need to drop the kids off with the In-laws and go on a few more dates. It sounds trite, but sometimes just shaking things up with a small change in your personal life can make a bigger difference than you could ever predict.
Changing Careers or Changing Jobs
Second, ask yourself whether it’s your career you’re done with, or just your job? We all need a change now and then, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to throw away all your experience and completely start over. Maybe you’re really just tired of your current job situation. Take some time to seriously consider all the other ways you can apply your career expertise to different areas in your field.
For example, classroom teachers can apply their skills in a different school or district, in administration, on a different project such as a new subject or grade level, or a special assignment like curriculum development. A marketer at a big company could change brands, move to a special project like innovating a new product, or even try a special assignment like teaching corporate marketing courses to new employees. Be creative in how you interpret your skills and you may be surprised to find how flexible your skills and knowledge really are.
Consider Passions Before Changing Careers
Third, think honestly about what you really enjoy about your current line of work before you jump to another. That way, you’ll know which skills to take with you and where they will apply best. Is it the research? Working with people? Not working with people? Crunching numbers? Manual labor? Working with children? Dig beyond what you’ve been trained to tell people, and find what you truly, honestly, enjoy. If this feels too hard, there are tools and tests to help you identify a career (link) that will capitalize on your true strengths. They not cheap, but they may lead you to a true passion that can help you to build a fuller and possibly more profitable future.
Research Before Changing Careers
Fourth, and I know this is obvious, but make sure you research, research and research some more. Don’t just jump right into training for something else because it seems glamorous from the outside. I guarantee you, whatever it is, it is not as glamorous from the inside. Google this career and read about it. Check the US Department of Labor Statistics for basic info on the job outlook for that industry. Google the companies in that industry. Find out what kind of degree you’ll need. Will you need to go back to school? What kind of investment will that mean for you? And whatever you do, don’t forget to talk to people on the inside. Even if you don’t directly know anyone in the industry you’re considering, chances are that someone you know does, so start asking. If you think you need a little help, check out our sample email request for informational informational interviews.
Make a Financial Plan Before Changing Careers
Finally, if after some true soul searching and research, you decide you really do want to change careers, make sure you have a financial plan in place. As in, you have a way to keep the food on the table, the bills paid and the kids cared for, while you get the training and do the networking you need. If you’ve chosen a new career that you really love, this could be an investment in time and money that really pays off in a healthy, happy financial life.
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