Stepping into the unknown and making a career change can be terrifying, and even disruptive to your normal, everyday life. For a lot of people, career changes are one of the most stressful things in life because, to the brain, they pose a threat to survival. Ultimately, it’s not just a career change, it’s also a life change that affects your entire lifestyle. Even if you don’t have to go back to school, there is still a time and financial commitment that will need to be made. A job transition takes a lot of time and energy. You have to network and learn all of the ins and outs of a new industry. If you feel like your current job is no longer serving you, though, a career change could be a really good thing. Even with the disruption it may bring at first, the pros may outweigh the cons in the long run. Before delving into a new career, it’s important to do a lot of research and to map out the process of how you will make the transition. A lack of preparation can lead to a lot of stress and frustration.
Here are some tips for how to navigate a career transition:
- Know your why
Having a purpose behind why you want to make a career change is really important because you want to be sure that you are investing your time, energy, and money wisely. Ask yourself why you want to make this career change and evaluate your current job satisfaction. Assessing your likes and dislikes at your current role can help you determine what it is that you are looking for in your next job. This is especially important to do if you’ve spent a number of years working your way up the ladder at your current job. Switching careers is like starting over from scratch. It can shift a lot of things in your personal life as well. You might have to go back to school and do other additional things that will take time, energy, and even money, but if you keep your ultimate purpose in mind for why you’re making your career change, it won’t be as much of a burden.
- Research and test out the career before fully committing
Before fully delving into a new career, make sure to do your research first. It’s important to be informed about what the career will entail before making the switch. You can even test it out first by volunteering or shadowing someone who is doing the job that you want to do. Talking to professionals who are currently working in the field can be useful because they will be able to give you a deeper insight into what the job will really be like. They can give you realistic expectations for what to expect, as well as some tips for how to prepare yourself for success. Additionally, researching the career that you want to pursue can also remove any surprises you might encounter along the way. Taking a class or two in your desired field can give you an idea of the type of material that you will be dealing with on a daily basis. Maybe you have a specific job or field in mind that you think you may enjoy. You may end up liking it more than you thought you would, but the opposite could also be true. You may find that it’s not what you had envisioned at all. This is why it’s important to test it out first, either by shadowing someone or taking a class. It is a little bit different once you actually get out into the field and start working, but testing it out first will at least give you some idea of what it will be like. If you find that it’s not the right fit for you, that’s a good thing as well, because you will find out early on and be able to re-think your career change.
- Set goals
Setting goals is important when transitioning to a new career because it gives you guidance and it keeps you on track. It also allows you to use your time more effectively because you know exactly what you’re working toward. When you don’t have any aspirations or targets to reach, it’s kind of like going in circles. You are more likely to succeed when you are specific about your goals. Creating a vision for the future and your career is important. Even though things are never set in stone, having a vision can help you tremendously. When you visualize an outcome, you begin to see the possibility of actually achieving it, and then it begins to actualize.
- Update resume and cover letter
Revamping your resume and cover letter prior to changing your career is important, because even if your new job, or your desired job, is in a completely different field than your current job, there might still be some valuable skills or traits that can be applied to the new job. For example, having good communication skills will be helpful for any job. Even if you don’t have to interact with people all day long, having this skill will still be really useful. Taking some time to update your resume and cover letter will also allow employers to see the value that you can bring to their organization and it can yield life-changing results. Moreover, it can also help you evaluate what skills you need to brush up on, which can increase your desire for self-improvement and result in you taking actionable steps toward your growth as an individual.
- Make sure your finances are in order
Another important thing is to make sure that your finances are in order before making the career switch. This is important because you don’t want to get yourself into a lot of debt if you have to go to school to facilitate the career change. Oftentimes, you might have to take extra classes to learn the skills needed for the job. Most working adults who are going to school to change careers will likely have to keep working while going to school, especially if they have families. A significant number of them will have to evaluate the pros and cons of making a dramatic change if they have kids to consider, or even another working adult in the family whose schedule may be affected. In addition, when switching jobs, you might be making less money in the beginning while you gain some experience and learn the skills needed for the job. Depending on the job, this may be a significant drop in salary, so you have to make sure that you can still sustain your lifestyle while making the transition.