To this point, I’ve talked a lot about job seekers and job hunters, putting the best foot forward in your search for the job/career. However, I’d like to shift gears and talk to those of you who may be ready to switch careers. Many of you are frustrated with where you are and you’re looking for growth. Perhaps you’ve been in the same field or job for a while, and you’re ready for a change. While change is important and very much encouraged, it is critical to ensure that you’re making changes for the RIGHT reasons and that you won’t be doing more harm than good to your long-term career by making said changes.
I found a FANTASTIC article from Randall Hansen, the founder of Quintessential Careers, outlining 10 career change mistakes to avoid. I picked out four that describe the situations of many of my clients and friends:
Changing careers because you hate your job.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing hating your current job with hating your current career. Take the time to analyze whether it’s just the job/employer/boss that you hate, or whether it’s the career/skills/work that you dislike. The same goes with if you are feeling bored or lost with your job; review whether it’s the job/employer or the career. Whatever you determine, it’s best not to leave your job — if possible — until you have a plan for finding a new job/career.
Making a career change solely based on money/benefits.
Certain career fields are very alluring because of the salary and other benefits they offer, but be very careful of switching careers because of all the dollar signs. Keep repeating to yourself, “money won’t buy me happiness.” Remember that you may make more money, but if you hate your new career, you’ll probably be spending that money on stress- and health-related expenses. A career that’s hot today could be gone tomorrow, so dig deeper.
Changing careers based on the success of others.
It’s human nature to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. Just because your best friend or neighbor is successful in a certain career does not mean that you will be — or that you will be happy doing it — so certainly consider the career field, but make sure you do the research before jumping into it. Finally, just to add yet another cliche, too many job-seekers switch careers on the assumption that the grass is always greener — and often times find out that is not the case.
Making a career change without necessary experience/education.
As a career-changer, you must find a way to bridge the (experience, skills, and education) gap between your old career and your new one. While transferable skills (skills that are applicable in multiple career fields, such as communications skills) are an important part of career change, it is often necessary to gain additional training and experience before you can find a good job in a new career field. Research whether you need additional training, education, or certifications. And try to find time to volunteer, temp, intern, or consult in your new career field — what some experts refer to as developing a parallel career — before quitting your current job and searching for a full-time position in your new career field.
Essentially, it is imperative for you to be honest with yourself about why you would like to switch careers, and what your true motivation is. It is also important to think through what you expect this career change to accomplish for you and the resulting end goals. You need to understand what skills and experience you bring to the table and where they may be the best fit. Changing careers should not be a decision made on impulse or from a place of exasperation or frustration. It should take time and evaluation because in the end, the career you choose belongs to YOU and only you, and it’s up to you to choose the best long-term course for it.
For the rest of Hansen’s career change mistakes to avoid and to take a look around Quintessential Careers, click here.