Changing careers is one of the most popular resolutions people make on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. It’s also one of the most failed resolutions because changing careers is a daunting task. If reinventing yourself professionally is one of your resolutions for the coming year, there are steps you can take to embark on a new career path successfully.
Why People Change Careers
People change careers for many different reasons, such as greater job satisfaction and a higher salary. These are some of the most common reasons people switch careers:
- Salary increase
- Stress reduction
- Better work-life balance
- More flexibility
- Opportunity for advancement
- Feeling of appreciation
- Need to be challenged
- No passion for current field
- New interests
People who change careers typically report the following benefits:
- More fulfilled
- Less stressed
- Financial security
When considering a career change, you should first evaluate your present situation. Sometimes all you need is a new job, not an entirely new career.
Take an inventory of what you like and dislike about your current job and what you hope to like about your new job. Focus on your interests, values, personality traits and skills. Use online personality assessment and career development tools to gain insight. Consider the pros and cons of changing careers at this stage in your life.
If after a process of self-evaluation you decide that a new career is for you, then proceed in an organized way to help minimize the disruption that career pivots cause and maximize your chances of making a successful transition.
Below are 10 steps to guide you through this process.
1. Ask Yourself the Important Questions
Contemplate what you really want in a career. Start by asking yourself open-ended questions such as these:
- What is my personal mission in life?
- What am I truly good at?
- What are my top skills?
- Where would I rather invest my time and energy?
- What do I definitely don’t want?
- What stops me from making a career change?
It may take you some time to arrive at the answers, but the more you ponder these questions, the more clarity you’ll gain. Clarity is what you need to get unstuck from the path you’re currently on.
2. Follow Your Gut
In addition to asking questions that give you clarity, you need to get in tune with your intuition. All the thinking and analyzing in the world cannot make up for intuition, that voice within that tells you what’s right and wrong for you. One way of identifying the voice of your intuition is by noticing how you feel when you hear it. Despite of the challenges your intuition may put before you, following your gut gives you a sense of peace that no other choice can give you.
3. Evaluate Your Current Job Satisfaction
What aspects of your job do you like and dislike? Is your dissatisfaction related to the nature of the work, the industry, your schedule, your co-workers, management? Are you compromising your core values in your current job? During this process, fear and doubt will make you question if your job is as bad as you thought, so make a thorough evaluation and avoid backing down out of fear.
4. Take Action
As you gain clarity and begin to follow your gut, you need to go beyond thought and reflection and take action. You won’t know if you’re on the right path until you act. When you take action, you experience situations and obtain information that will further assist you in making sound decisions about your career path. Start networking and researching your chosen career path. Join a social media group for people on the career path you’re considering.
5. Decide to Change Jobs, Industries or Both
Are you considering a new job in the same industry, the same job in another industry, a new job in a different industry? For some people, changing careers means a small adjustment, while for others it means a drastic change or starting over. Consider alternative positions in your industry where you could use the expertise you have accumulated in your current position.
6. Brainstorm Potential Careers
Brainstorm ideas for career alternatives that match your skills, core values and professional goals. Seek the advice of people who know you and people who know the job. Consider meeting with a career counselor.
7. Do Your Homework
Explore the career path you’d like to pursue. Read about it. Conduct informal interviews with people on that career path. Research job opportunities. Attend conferences, seminars and workshops that offer valuable information and experience in your new field.
8. Educate Yourself
If you’re considering a career path that requires a specific education or certification, you may need to enroll in school or take a number of evening classes to complete the requirements. From college campuses to online courses, there are many ways to gain the knowledge and credentials you will need in your new career.
9. Upgrade Your Skills
Look for opportunities in your current job to gain the skills you will need in your new career. Pay attention to the problems around that you could solve for your employer by volunteering to help out.
10. Rebrand Yourself
Before you start reaching out within and outside your network and applying for jobs, you need to align your personal brand with your new career path. Search for resume templates and cover letters online to get an idea of what your resume should look like to get the attention and approval of decision makers in your target job. Focus on transferable skills—skills that are useful and desirable in any job (communication, problem solving, time management, etc.). State your enthusiasm and goals for your new career path with a strong statement in the objectives or summary section of your resume.
Pursuing meaningful work is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things you’ll ever do, hence why changing careers is a popular New Year’s resolution. Whether you want or need a change, or you have skills and gifts that are being wastes in your current job, wishing for a career change won’t make it happen. You have to do it. By being methodical about it and taking it step by step, you improve your chances of transitioning into a new career successfully.