The best part about changing careers is getting that fresh start. Something to give you a new reason to wake up in the morning. But you only get that great feeling if you choose wisely. When considering making what could be a life-altering decision such as changing the way you make your bread and butter, you do not want to do this lightly.
Of course, some professionals have the decision thrust upon them, as their industries are either contracting or disappearing altogether due to technological transformation. But some of us are looking to change careers because we need a fresh perspective, more money, or other reasons that meet material, situational, or personal growth needs. Before making any hasty decisions on a career change, be sure to consider these three things.
Before Changing Careers, Research The Industry Outlook
Making a drastic move into a new profession just because it sounds good isn’t smart. What if that profession or sector is shrinking? What if compensation is stagnating? Hey, what if it just is not as wholly rewarding as you initially thought? Do yourself a favor and do your homework before changing careers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics often provides good information on everything from 10-year industry growth to prevailing salary averages. Also, companies such as Deloitte provide good sector status information. Another great way to assess viability before changing careers is by connecting with industry professionals on LinkedIn. Once connected, strike up a conversation and get their input on where they feel the industry or profession is headed.
How Do You Support Yourself During The Career Change Transition
Okay, your research has revealed that your new career target is viable. It is now time to plan the execution. Is your new career direction one that you can pursue while holding down your current position? Or will the transformation require a time commitment that will not allow you to remain employed where you are currently? If you need to quit your job to pursue this career change, will you rely on any savings or nest egg, or do you have a secondary source of income that will help “grease the skids”, so to speak?
Before doing anything rash, be sure to give this some thought. Of course, some of you out there are just straight up risk-takers. If you do not have a lot of commitments to others and your psyche is one that can deal with it, then go for it. But know who you are before you do such a thing, as the transition can be a very stressful time.
Identify Mentors to Guide You Through the Career Change Maze
There is this theory that one should learn from one’s own mistakes. Well, I don’t buy it. Not when one can easily learn from someone else’s faux pas. When it comes to that new career path you are seeking, someone has already blazed the trail. They know where the pitfalls are, so why should you have to experience them as well? Identify a couple of industry professionals that can serve as mentors and guideposts to provide you with the shortest possible path to your goal.
What if you are considering taking a certification course that everyone in the industry knows is worthless? Perhaps there is a specific concentration of the new profession that provides more opportunity for growth than others. Someone who has already “walked the walk” is likely to shorten your conversion time and make it less painful.
Many say different strokes for different folks. But it is also true that sometimes the same folks need different strokes. Going against the inertia of your current career likely won’t be easy. But if you take some time to figure out who you are in that process and build a plan accordingly, it can work. It has been done before. The average person will change careers up to 7 times during their working life. You may as well make the transition as smooth as possible. So once you have made the decision, do your research, retool your resume, and get cracking!