Many people want to switch careers for many reasons, including more satisfaction at work, higher pay, greater challenges, pursuit of their true passions, and so on. You might have changed your core values and career goals, discovered new interests or simply want to be less stressful. Before you make an important decision that will impact all aspects of your life, it is essential to ask yourself some questions. Assess your situation and explore career choices to determine which career is best for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average number of people who change jobs over a lifetime is 12. You are not the only one thinking about making a career change. It can be difficult to take action on these thoughts. Some people may feel that switching jobs mid-career means they have to give up a well-paying, stable job and go down unknown waters. It can feel like a backward step for others. However, it doesn’t have the to be. There will be times in our lives when we feel less impactful, fulfilled or engaged. Keeping engaged is crucial to job satisfaction.
What should you do if your career is changing? There are strategies that you can use to make a career shift, regardless of your circumstances. First, you need to understand why you are considering changing careers.
Questions to Ask About Career Change
- Your current career – What works for you and what doesn’t?
Write down the things you don’t like about your job. Are you feeling unfulfilled? Do you feel constantly under-managed? Are you looking for more freedom? To get a visual representation and understanding of what motivates you to change careers, make a list. To help you decide what you want from your next career, you should make a list of all the things that you love about your current job. You can gain a wider perspective by writing down the pros and cons to leaving your job.
- What’s important in your life?
There are many career options available, so making a decision can be difficult. This cognitive process is called “choice overload” or “overchoice“. It is when one is faced with too many choices and finds it difficult to make a decision. Start with what you actually need as a person and not just your career. You should consider whether your primary goal is to spend time with your parents, children, or grandchildren or to have enough time to play a sport. Others may seek a career that is fulfilling their purpose while others might just desire a job that gives them the opportunity to do other important things.
- What job will you choose to live your values?
Your work values are what make you who and what you are. They are the qualities that make you who you are. This usually leads to higher levels of performance, energy and fulfillment. Each person has a set of unique values. These can range from creativity and family to collaboration and autonomy. Before you decide on your next career, it is important to understand your work values. Are you the best version of yourself? What can others depend on you for? What career will allow you to spend more time with these people? You might not be able to express yourself in a career you are interested in, even if it pays more than you can imagine.
- Which career will help you realize your dreams?
Imagine your life in ten years. Think about what you do, with whom you are, how you impact others, and what you think about yourself. After you have your vision clear, think about what career will support it. You will need to create a job description that is aligned with your needs and wants. Next, you will need to consider the roles, skills and experience that are necessary to help you realize your vision.
- What are the barriers to your new career?
No matter what career choice you make, each career has its own set of obstacles and challenges. There are many challenges, such as not having a network that you can tap into to find a job, ageism and competition from more experienced candidates or a lack of the right qualifications and training. It is important to be aware of all obstacles and prepare yourself to overcome them if/when they arise. When making a career shift, it is important to ask for informational interviews or network with industry professionals and potential employers.
- Ready to start at the bottom?
You probably have an existing network of people and knowledge about your work that can assist you when you decide to change specialties in your current job. You won’t need to start over in this case. However, a career change in another industry is not always a straight line. Do you feel comfortable taking on different roles to reach your goals? Unpaid internships, volunteer work, consulting assignments, part-time jobs, and other opportunities are all possible. You can achieve your goal with any of these options, but not quickly enough.
You may not be able convince hiring managers that you are interested in the job if you don’t want to do the hard work. It is important to know what you can bring to the job and what it lacks.
- Do you have the means to afford it?
Many career changes require some level of expense, direct or indirect. If you are looking to pursue professional development and education, then you should be prepared to pay for the expenses. You will need to sacrifice some income if you are unable to work while you’re in school (an opportunity cost). Once you make a career shift, your entry salary will be lower than the one you had before. Are you able to pay basic expenses (e.g. rent, bills, groceries, etc. What is your new salary?
You Should Change Your Career Because…
It’s something you have been considering for some time. Don’t wait for the right moment to make this big decision. is the perfect time to change your career. Many professionals have decided to change careers at the peak of their careers. Maybe they were wrong to make the change. However, just because it seemed like the wrong time doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t the right time.
You have brilliant ideas that are prompted by the market. It is not a good idea to change careers just to escape your job. You want to be attracted towards your new career. These are indicators that you should be looking for new opportunities. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave your job, as the first step towards changing careers is not just job hunting but actually making changes in your life.
You have severance to fund your career search . It doesn’t matter what industry or role you start in. Sometimes people become so involved in their job or their day-to-day business that it’s impossible to see the long-term. You may be satisfied with your current job but not making any progress in your career. It’s time to rethink or redesign your career.
You only live for the weekend. If you find yourself wishing away your life just for the weekend it is a sign it is time to get moving. Get out of your comfort zone and begin to think about making a career change.
You feel jealous of the jobs of your friends. It is possible to be jealous of people who have better jobs than you. First, identify why you feel jealous. Once you have figured it out, you can start to look for work that has the characteristics you desire.
Be pragmatic and realistic
You should create an action plan before you make the move to your new career. Are there any preparations you need to make before you embark on a new career? Are there new skills, research, or education that you will need to be successful in the transition? Are you due for a major bonus, promotion, and/or raise? Are you willing to sacrifice money in order to make the transition easier? Postponing your career transition may be a good idea if you answered “yes” to any of these questions. You need to be realistic and pragmatic about your situation and the transition.
Do you feel stressed? Are you feeling demotivated, low energy and unable to do your job well? Are you constantly considering quitting your job? These are all indicators that it is time to move. Each stage of your career offers opportunities to discover more about your talents and interests. Your career decisions don’t need to be seen as a failure. These are often the most transformative and informative points on your journey to a rewarding career.
Changes in careers take patience, practice, and time. It is not a good idea to try too many things at once, and then you might become overwhelmed. It is best to learn new skills slowly over time. These steps, along with answering key questions, will help job seekers make midlife career changes.