Questions to Ask Yourself Before Changing Careers:
What do I want out of my new career? What don’t I want?
Knowing what you want and what you don’t want are important components to finding work that fulfills you on a daily basis. Without knowing where you stand on certain things you are likely to bounce from job to job without ever finding a career you can stick with.
Things like making more money, avoiding micro managers, or contributing to a particular social cause can make a big difference in properly matching you to a career or particular job.
It is helpful to be clear on what you want out of your career. Writing a career mission statement can help you establish this kind of clarity by giving you a thought model to refer to when faced with career decisions. With a carefully written career mission statement at your disposal, making decisions on whether to change jobs or transition to a new career entirely can become almost effortless.
Do I need a new career or just a new job?
For some people the idea of a new career is very exciting. If they have hit a developmental barrier in their current line of work or if they’ve become cynical of the industry as a whole, changing careers may be a good decision.
Of course, there is also a possibility that the cynicism and developmental barriers are being self-inflicted. When this is the case, simply changing jobs or changing fields of work may not do much to help them feel more fulfilled or happy with their work.
In the case of an unreasonable boss, or a position that no longer compliments your position in life, simply changing jobs rather than career paths may be all that is needed.
For the friends of Mona Patel, it was the dawn of a new season in life that made it hard for them to find jobs they liked.
Patel’s friends were all well educated women and accomplished professionals that had briefly left the workforce to raise their young children. With the children now grown to ages that allowed these mothers to work, the women didn’t want to neglect their children by working full-time.
This limited availability proved to be a barrier for these women in finding work similar to the positions they had left only a few years prior.
To overcome this or similar circumstances, Patel suggests reframing the way you think about your job hunt by asking “what if?”
As she describes more thoroughly in her new book, Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think, Patel insist that thinking creatively – or thinking like a designer – can help job hunters overcome any limitation the marketplace presents them with.
In an article for BusinessCollective.com Patel talks about outlining your own dream job. In doing so, she explains that you’d want to make use of your current skills – maybe in a new way – so that even with a limitation like availability, you could be of value to an employer.
The purpose of this exercise is to help you weed through the countless number of job postings, but also to help you seek out the companies that want the benefit of hiring you to do a job that complements your life and current expertise in an industry.
This kind of reframing isn’t just something people returning to the workforce can make use of. Creative thinking can be a solution that helps all working professionals to find work-life balance and/or career fulfillment.
On the other hand, lost passions for a line of work can be hard to resurrect, and sometimes they are quickly replaced with a passion for something new. There are also people who simply fell into a profession that doesn’t suite them. In these scenarios, transitioning to a new career may be justified.
Of course, career change isn’t always self-initiated. There are all kinds of reasons for wage stagnations and lay-offs that inspire folks to choose new career paths.
What’s my career transition plan?
If you’re going to change careers it is important to have a plan.
Most career changes require new skills or adapting old skills to fulfill new needs. Sometimes landing a job is simply a matter of showing that skills you already have can be successfully applied in a new arena.
The more dramatic your career change, the steeper your learning curve is going to be. It can also be much more challenging to demonstrate how competent you are if you don’t already have experience in an industry.
Tim Ferris’ 8 Steps to Getting What You Want… Without Formal Credentials is an excellent guide for helping people overcome learning curves and demonstrate their qualifications for a newly chosen career or in a new industry.
Tim Ferris’ 8 Steps to Getting What You Want… Without Formal Credentials:
- Choose Your New Field of Learning
- Showcase Your Learning
- Learn the Basics of Good Networking
- Within Your Budding Social Economy, Start Working for Free
- Develop Case Studies of Your Work
- Develop Relationships With Mentors
- Learn Sales
- Sell and Deliver Your Services Within Your Social Economy
Ferris’ 8 Steps for Getting What You Want boils down to self-education and then selling an employer/client on your newly established value.
For a more seasoned professional, a career transition may not require starting entirely from scratch. Instead, repositioning the value of existing skill-sets in service of a new employer or client base may suffice. Even so, learning how to communicate your value to this new kind of employer or client is something you’ll have to learn.
Rather than winging it, deciding on a course of action is the best way to ensure you’ll learn what needs to be learned and transition as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
Your plan might include allocating time to decide on a new career path, conducting adequate research in which to make your decision, and goals associated with these early phases of career transition as well as the actual accomplishment of landing a your dream job.
[FREE GUIDE] Our Career Goals & Action Plan Worksheet simplifies the process of setting actionable SMART goals and measures of personal accountability. Whether you’re trying to transition to a new career or reach higher levels of success in your current job, this free worksheet will help you do it in record time.
How might this career change impact my financial security?
In changing careers you’ll also want to plan for how a job change would impact your ability to pay the bills.
We often think of how our careers help fulfill the highest levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but if we forget the importance of our jobs to satisfying the foundational levels of the hierarchy we set ourselves up for failure.
Even when a career move is motivated entirely by increasing a person’s earning potential, the days of higher income seldom follow immediately after a job change.
If you don’t already have a lot of directly transferable skills to the career path you chose, leaving your current job for one in another industry may come with an initial pay cut.
The simple solution to a decrease in pay is to adjust how much you spend, but for some people there isn’t a great deal of margin between their current income and the cost of living.
In a situation like this, leaving your current job may not be an option in the near future. It may be a wise to supplement your current income with a side-hustle that allows you to dabble in the work that excites you.
Incorporating a side-hustle into your plan for career change is a win-win-win. Not only can you increase your fulfillment by doing work you love, but you can build up a work history to demonstrate your skills to future employers/clients, all while increasing your take-home pay.
With increased income from your side-hustle you might be able to meet your financial obligations more easily. You could also use that new income to invest in courses or other programs that might help you to develop more rapidly as a professional.
If adding a side-hustle is an option you’re considering I suggest Nick Loper’s Side Hustle Nation as a great resource on how to get started.
As you grow into your new profession there may come a time when your current career becomes the side-hustle, and what started as a side-hustle become your full-time vocation, before earning you enough to complete your transition into the new career.