Has a career change been on your mind? Feeling stuck or unfulfilled at work? You’re not alone. According to a Gallup study conducted in 2013, 70% of Americans are not reaching their full potential.
A career change is a big step that requires careful consideration of many different factors. Be sure to know what you want, why you want it, and what you’ll to do to achieve it before making the leap.
Career Change Self-Analysis
First things first: Know when it’s time to explore other options.
Yes, most everyone hates Mondays. We all feel the pain of the grind now and again. That’s normal. But if you are mentally exhausted and drained every day after returning from work, maybe it’s time to consider a different daily routine. The saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While that may be a little too optimistic for some, everyone deserves to feel some sort of fulfillment and satisfaction from a career. If you find yourself apathetic towards your work or even jealous of others’ professional lives, the red flag is waving. Don’t want until you’re miserable to make the switch. Be proactive and recognize when something isn’t quite working out. After all, there’s no harm in merely exploring other avenues.
Think: What exactly is the problem?
One of the most important steps to beginning a successful career change is to identify exactly what makes you dissatisfied. One of the worst things you can do is take a drastic step, like change industries, when the issue only had to do with rush hour traffic. Be sure you know exactly what your qualms are before you start taking steps to address them.
For example, is a long commute getting you down? Consider relocating. Having issues with colleagues? Bring it up with your supervisor, or try these workplace conflict resolutions. Can’t stand the company culture? Investigate other firms or organizations within your field. Or do you actually hate the work itself? Identify your skills and interests and how they could transfer over to another industry.
Make a game plan for a career.
Don’t do anything drastic until you have a safety net in place. Consult with financial advisors, accountants, and industry experts to determine how you can swing the transition financially. Keep in mind that changing industries typically entails starting from square one, and that usually means a pay cut. If you’re serious about the switch, prepare yourself for that reality.
Test the waters.
Before leaving your current position, do all you can to explore your new area of interest. Take online courses, get certifications, volunteer, or offer pro bono services to friends and family. Engaging in these opportunities will help you figure out if this is a better fit. Bonus: These experiences will give you expertise and credibility in your new industry (while still maintaining your paycheck to cover the bills). While you’re at it, be sure to make meaningful connections with colleagues in the field. This could be a big help down the road.
A career change will not happen overnight. It could take months or even years to fully acclimate to a new sector. Don’t throw in the towel too soon. If you will be happier and more productive in a new environment, it will be well worth the effort it takes to get there. Above all, do your homework. With tons of information at your fingertips, there’s no excuse for being ill-informed. Plan ahead. Finally, be sure to ask yourself thought-provoking questions to figure out exactly what it is you want and how you’re willing to get there.
Be sure to check out our career advice resource post for helpful links.