Making a Career Change – What to do and what to avoid

Change, it is said, is the only constant in the universe, and the same goes for your personal life and for your career.

Sometimes, we are forced to adapt to change abruptly and at other times we have the luxury to plan for it in advance. Though a career change, especially a major one, can be a challenging process, it can also be extremely rewarding, if it is conducted properly and with the right attitude. It can be as complex as moving from accounting to lion taming or perhaps just to banking. Here are a few important things to keep in mind as you plan:

  • The first step towards your goal is to steel your resolve to pursue an alternative career option. You may be giving up a lot (money, job security, a wonderful work environment, etc.). But having made the decision, it is important to start winding down and disengaging from your current role as soon as possible in order to start the process of transitioning to your new field. You should begin researching and reading about relevant topics, joining industry forums, shadowing people who work in the field, participating in networking events, and so forth. Engage with your new career as deeply as you did your old.

  • Timing of a career change is also important. Sometimes the trigger to change does not happen at the most opportune time. Sometimes it may coincide with financial difficulties, the birth of a first child, or caring for sick family members. All of these could demand your time, energy, and money. Think carefully about what you can do to make the best of your circumstances and you might have to delay, if you have that option, until your situation improves.

  • You need to know what you want to do, have a grasp of what skills you have that are applicable to your new field, and determine what gaps need to be filled in before you move ahead. You’ll often need to acquire additional tools, resources, qualifications, and certifications in order to compete with other candidates, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Do your best to obtain these necessary items before leaving your current job, if possible. Be patient with yourself, as in many ways you are starting from scratch.

  • Finally, a career change can take longer than planned and it will likely take even longer to achieve the kind of success that you had in mind when you started (or that you had in your old job). Don’t get discouraged! You made this decision because you felt strongly that it was in your best interests and best served your long-term career and personal goals. Stay focused, keep making progress, and plan ahead as much as possible, and no matter your age or your goal, your career change is obtainable.

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