So you’ve spent your time building your skill set in one career only to realize it might not be as fulfilling as you thought. Or you’ve hit a life crisis (whether it’s a quarter-life, mid-life, random-life), and decided to switch up what you do for a living. Regardless, making a career change is a daunting move, so we’re here to offer some ways to ease the transition and help you be more prepared.
What’s your best fit as of right now?
For those who want a career change, but don’t know a career change to what, it’s time to sit down and bring out the honesty. What are you looking for in your next career, from your daily tasks to the workplace environment? Is it time to take a career assessment test? If you’re still looking for some guidance on what your best fit is, it’s worth it to check out free career assessments available online, and Alison Doyle from Truity even has a compilation of free career aptitude and career assessment tests here.
Once you have your general direction, dive deeper. Start thinking about what you want your daily life to look like, and one suggestion from Kat Boogaard on Truity in this article is to make a list of adjectives to nail down what you’re working for. Think about terms such as “routine” vs. “fast-paced”, “people-oriented” or “task-oriented”. Setting these parameters provides clarity.
So you decided to change, now what?
Unless everything lines up perfectly where you leave one career right for the next, be prepared for a period of instability and try your best to make it as stable as possible. One primary source of instability is financial health, so combat that first by saving up before you switch. Start budgeting and recognizing what benefits you might lose when you leave your current career, from insurance to retirement funds. Michael Lewis from Money Crashers offers four financial preparation steps, the first being negotiating a severance agreement, then cutting your living expenses, liquifying your assets, and pursuing financial assistance such as unemployment insurance and benefits. Lewis offers more in-depth tips for each of the four preparation steps in his article here.
Let’s get accountable
Once you’ve set yourself up with the decision to change your career and you’ve started to prepare for the transitional period, it’s time for research. Start researching what skills you need to master in your new field and build those skill sets up. As you’re discovering everything you need to know, set goals and deadlines to make sure you actually accomplish what you want, suggested by Emily Stevens from CareerFoundry in this article. The last thing we want is your dream change to become a back-burner project. Keep the momentum going by setting SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-oriented — on applications, courses, learning your skills, contacting people, and everything in between. In a time when everything is in flux, it’s up to you to tack down organization and time management.
Reach out to ensure this is the right move for you
Use the resources you have and can find to conduct informational interviews with people already in your desired field. This is a chance to check yourself to see if you’re being realistic, or just idealizing about a change, any change, whether or not it’ll serve you in the future. Dawn Rosenberg McKay from The Balance Careers has a whole article on what informational interviews are and how to prepare for them. Questions to ask include the classic, “Can you describe a typical day at work?” and “What do you like about your career and what don’t you like about it?”
You’re about to embark on a journey that is the textbook definition of life-changing, and so make sure you have all the tools you need to ensure the highest success rate. Read up on common mistakes of those who change their career in this article by Kathy Caprino on HuffPost, and check out this 10-step breakdown on how to make a successful career change in this article from Dawn Rosenberg McKay again from The Balance Careers. With your research in hand, tools in order, and dreams tacked down, you’re bound to enter an exciting, growth-filled new period of your life well-prepared.