Change is never easy, as cliché as it sounds. This is especially true for those looking to make a career change.
As someone who transitioned from teaching to writing for a living, I know.
People seek a career change for a variety of reasons. Whether they want a more flexible schedule, their career goals have changed or they have newfound interests, there are a lot of questions to consider, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Before making a career change, take a hard look at your current situation and your options, and be ready to be a little uncomfortable if you do decide to make changes.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some things to consider.
Why Do You Want to Make a Change?
Before doing anything, think long and hard about why you want to make a career change because this can be a major life decision. Instead of just up and quitting your job, take some time to reflect on why you’re not satisfied.
Think about questions like: What parts of your job do you like and dislike? Go even deeper and think about whether it’s the actual career, the people you work with or even the company culture that you dislike.
If there are only aspects of the job that you hate (like the company culture or you’re bored), you may not need to change your career. Instead, think of solutions such as asking for different responsibilities, working with a different team or changing jobs within the same career.
However, if you find that you want to be in a different industry because your interests and values have completely changed, it makes more sense to pursue other options.
Where Can You Find Out About Careers You’re Interested In?
If you decide that a career change is in the cards, do some soul searching to see what you’re really interested in. You can review your strongest skills, and think about past jobs, volunteer opportunities or even hobbies.
For example, Lee Huffman, a former senior finance manager at a local bank in California, transitioned into freelance writing and running a podcast about travel and personal finance. He used his knowledge of finance and credit cards for his new venture. He also loves to travel, so the transition made sense for him.
If you’re not sure what you want to do just yet, consider looking online at alternative careers based on your interests and values. It’s also helpful to chat with friends, family and even colleagues.
Then find out what you can about those industries. As for where to look, a simple online search, LinkedIn or a college alumni network are sound options.
What’s Your Financial Situation?
Before you decide to make a career change, it’s important to see if it’s economically feasible. For example, you may need time to find a new job or even relocate. As well, you may need to go back to school or get additional training before you can make that transition, which can cost you a lot of money.
It’s time to get honest with yourself. Do you have an emergency fund? Are there expenses you can eliminate to lower your cost of living while you make a career transition?
When Huffman decided to change careers, he moved from California to Nashville to save money. “We decided that it would be better to move to a place with a lower cost of living so that we could spend more time with each other and the kids,” he said.
“The money was great” when he was working at the bank, he said, “but the lifestyle wasn’t.”
Huffman also looked at his current expenses and paid down as much debt as he could. Once he did that and reduced expenses, he felt more comfortable making the move.
Who Else Will Be Affected?
If you have a partner or kids, you want to make sure you do extra research and be open to what a career change will involve. For example, if you move, how will that affect your partner’s career? What will happen to childcare? Will your partner need to take over more household duties while you are off studying? You also want to think about health benefits. If you have others on your health plan, will you switch to?
Figuring these things out now will save you a lot of heartache down the line.
Can You Try It Out Before Committing?
Think about what you can do to test the waters before fully diving into a career change. For example, can you do some job shadowing for a few days to see what it’s really like? Or is it possible to start a side hustle to see whether you’ll even like the career path you’re thinking of choosing?
I decided to do freelance writing as a side hustle for a few years before making the leap. It took me that long to figure out which industry I liked writing for and had a lot of skills in so that it would be profitable.
Making a career change can be tough. But with the right mindset and careful research, you may be able to do it with minimal fuss.
Have you made a career change recently? What motivated you and how did you do it? Let us know in the comments!
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