Thinking about a Career Change?
Questions to Consider Before Changing Careers
BY: GIL TAM
Are you considering a career change? Thinking about this possibility can be confusing or intimidating, especially if you have been working in your career for a few years. Changes can be difficult because most of us like to do things we’re familiar with. Some people prefer staying in a career they dislike over changing careers because they’re afraid of making changes. If you are ready for a career change and prepared to overcome your fear and do the hard work, I would encourage you to consider the following questions and advice to help navigate this transition.
Why do you want to change careers?
If you are considering a career change because you don’t like your current boss, corporate culture, or other work situation, it may make more sense to look for another job in the same field than to leave your current career. Understanding the difference between a career and a job is important in making this decision. A career is the pursuit of a lifelong ambition or passion, or the general course of progression towards lifelong goals, while a job is a paid position that allows you to gain the necessary experience to pursue your career. Finding another job is much easier than navigating a career change so make sure you’ve identified your desire for change.
What do you really enjoy doing? What excites or energizes you?
This is important to consider for long-term satisfaction. You may find that, after many years of doing the same routine work, you need to spend some time rediscovering yourself. Explore your passions and activities that excite you, as these will bring meaning to your work. This will also make the journey of changing careers easier, more enjoyable, and ensure a better chance for success. If you are passionate about what you are seeking, you will pursue opportunities with more energy and effort and you will present yourself better at job interviews.
What skills sets are required for the new career you want to pursue?
Research is necessary as you pursue a new career. Assess your existing skill set and determine how much of your current skills are transferrable to your new career. Be sure to not discount yourself or undervalue your soft skills. Some of the more common and valuable transferable soft skills across multiple industries and jobs include: communication, people management, networking, analytics, project management, and leadership. Keep in mind that you may have to obtain additional education or training, or learn new skills on your own to be competitive in your desired industry, so be sure you are ready to invest time and resources.
What’s the best way to ensure a smooth transition?
It would be advantageous if you could stay in your current career or job while searching for a new career. This may take longer but it will lessen the financial burden, help you stay connected to the business world, and continue to build your professional experience.
Find a mentor or career coach for guidance and support.
Deciding on a career change should not be done alone. Having an experienced, outside perspective will be extremely helpful when it comes time to make a decision. Seeking a mentor in your desired field can provide you with insider knowledge and sound advice, while a career coach can offer the practical and emotional support you need as you change fields.
Career changes are integral parts of building a successful career and professional development. Most people make adjustments or changes to their careers at least once or twice over the course of their professional lives.
I have a mentee who worked as an attorney and navigated a successful career transition to becoming a senior manager of a business unit at a major utility company. My executive assistant completed her college education after years of working and navigated a career change over a period of eight years to become the director of human resources at a mid-size company.
Changing careers is not an easy feat, but it can be done. You can make the process easier by considering the questions and steps above, planning ahead, and making small strategic shifts to your career over time instead of making sudden changes. The time and effort you spend finding a career you love and enjoy doing is well worth the investment.
Presence Possibilities aims to help individuals and families succeed through professional assessments and consultations to identify one’s personality, talents, culture, learning style, and or ideal college major or career. Contact us if you’re considering a career change. We’ll provide an in-depth
assessment report, then team you up with one of our career consultants to analyze the results and help you create a roadmap. Our approach can help enhance your workplace skills or identify an alternative career based on your interests and personality. For more details, please contact Christine at 626-810-5200, or visit www.PPossibilities.org.
Gil Tam is a retired executive of a local electric utility company and an elder of a Presbyterian church. He’s had wide experience coaching and counseling others in their careers and is passionate about sharing his faith with his mentees.