How to Change Careers Successfully
Are you ready to make a career change? You are not alone. According to MetLife’s 20th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2022, job satisfaction is at a decline. In fact, 47.4 million workers quit their jobs in 2021. Of all workers surveyed, only 66% are satisfied with their current jobs and young workers feel that having an unfulfilling job is a top source of stress.
Job satisfaction is essential since our careers are such a big part of our lives. However, making a career change is a big decision, so you shouldn’t take it lightly. Here are some helpful tips if you are looking to change your career path, including how to know it’s time to do so, the benefits and a step-by-step guide to change careers successfully.
When It’s Time to Change Careers
There are many reasons that could cause a mid-career professional to consider a career switch. The pandemic has caused many professionals to realize that they no longer feel fulfilled in their careers and they need to start looking for more meaningful opportunities. Others no longer feel like there is room to grow. Some may lack work-life balance in their current position. All of these issues are why professionals have joined the Great Resignation. And now in the current job seeker’s market, making a career change may seem easier than ever.
However, it’s also normal to experience ups and downs during your career. Even with the changes to the workforce due to COVID-19 and the Great Resignation, don’t assume that some bad days mean you need a new career. Analyze and think about the following questions to determine if it might be time for a career change:
- Do you consistently hate getting out of bed to go to work? This may be a persistent dread, wishing you could do anything else but go to work.
- Are your work relationships suffering? Are you regularly irritated with your boss or co-workers? Do you find yourself complaining all the time?
- Do you feel no sense of satisfaction from your job?
- Do you have a generally lazy attitude toward your tasks? This may include constant procrastination and a consistent lack of motivation.
The truth is that no professional should be unhappy in their career. If you find that you have consistently felt this way about your career for some time, it’s time to think about a career change.
The Benefits of a Career Change
Finding the right career for you will allow you to find fulfillment and happiness. This benefits you in both your professional and personal life. Such a significant portion of our lives is spent at work. If you don’t truly enjoy that part of your life, those negative feelings can creep into your personal life as well.
Steps to Change Your Career Successfully
1. Discover what fulfillment looks like to you.
The first step to a successful career change is to discover what fulfillment looks like to you. This includes identifying your career values and your ideal work environment. Too many professionals skip over this step and end up in jobs that don’t align with their values, causing dissatisfaction. One exercise that can help you uncover your values is to identify a peak experience in your life and journal about what made it special to you.
2. Determine whether you need a career shift or a career change.
Another important step is to determine if you really need such a drastic change. You may find that you only need a career shift instead of a full career switch. To help you, create a list of what you don’t enjoy about your job and what the opposite of that would be. Could you perhaps find fulfillment in the same position but at a different organization? Would you feel happier in a different position at your current organization? Many mid-career professionals find that a career shift provides greater job satisfaction.
3. Research your target industry.
If you decide that it’s best for you to start a new career, researching the industry you are interested in is essential. What does the industry look like after the changes from COVID-19? Can you reach your career goals in this industry? What are the industry trends? You may find it helpful to attend a local or online industry event to get a sense of what the future may look like. You can look at what professionals in this network are currently doing. You can do some research on LinkedIn and also reach out to your alumni association for assistance.
4. Conduct informational interviews.
Informational interviews can provide you with some inside perspective about your target industry before making a career change. Is there someone in your network who works in that industry? If not, could someone make an introduction for you? During the informational interview, ask them about the skills needed to succeed in the industry. What do the next 10 years in this industry look like? What would an industry professional recommend to someone who wants to get started in this particular career path? These kinds of questions can provide you with needed insight for your next steps.
5. Determine what education or certifications you need.
You may determine that you need some additional education to qualify for your new industry. Do you simply need some experience or do you need an additional certification or a degree? You can look into classes online or at a local college as your circumstances permit. Your alumni association may be offering boot camps or special classes for alumni, so reach out to find out what your options are.
6. Commit to your desired career change.
Decide how committed you are to making a career change. If you aren’t 100% committed to a career change, it won’t happen. To boost your commitment, set a schedule for your career change goals during the week. For example, schedule an hour or two each week in your calendar to spend on research, informational interviews and networking. Carve out time to take courses for any needed certifications or degrees. Set progressive goals for yourself and set deadlines if needed. You can also ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner to ensure you keep making progress with your career change.
7. Stay organized.
Decide where you will keep all of your career change research and findings. Whether it’s a special folder on your computer or a special drawer in your home office desk, it’s important to have a separate space for your career change. This will save you time since you won’t have to spend your allotted time for your career change getting organized, you can simply continue where you left off. Having a dedicated space will also help you to take the process seriously, which will keep you on track.
8. Identify potential roadblocks.
There will always be roadblocks when it comes to making a career change. The sooner you identify them, the sooner you can create a plan to overcome them. For example, do you have any specific fears about making a career change? Are there any distractions that you need to minimize? Are there practical realities that you need to factor into your plans, such as paying for a mortgage or a child’s education? Write down all of your roadblocks so that you can see them and analyze them. Create a reasonable plan of action for each one.
9. Update your marketing materials.
Your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile should reflect your professional brand and also be relevant to your target industry. It’s also important to identify your transferable skills; skills that you have used before that can also be used in a new industry. You can do this by comparing your previous resume copy to job descriptions in your target industry. What keywords are they using? What skills are they looking for that you already have? Make sure to include those words and skills on your resume and LinkedIn profile.
10. Schedule time for self-care.
Making a career change can be stressful, so don’t let it take over your life! Make sure you schedule time to spend with your family and friends doing something fun. Or make sure that you have time for your favorite hobby or something else that you enjoy. This will help you feel refreshed to go back to the career change process without getting burned out.
Don’t look back in six months and wonder where the time went. By implementing these steps you can make a successful career change!
Source: US News