Question: “How do I go about changing careers?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Let me first stress that if you are unhappy in your current job and see no future in your career, you should seriously consider making a career change. Life is simply too short to work at a job that you don’t enjoy. And don’t fear career change — embrace it! Pundits say the average job-seeker will change careers — that’s careers, not just jobs — four or five times over the course of a lifetime; some even more.
So how do you go about making a career change? Carefully, slowly, and while still gainfully employed — if possible.
I’ve outlined the steps to career change below, but you can find the full details in my article, The 10-Step Plan to Career Change.
Step 1: Assessment of Likes and Dislikes. Take the time to really evaluate the things you like and dislike about your current job. Then look at hobbies and other activities; what are the kinds of things you like doing with your spare time? Find your career passion.
Step 2: Research New Careers. Now you need to research careers that utilize the skills and experiences that you like doing.
Step 3: Transferable Skills. Even if your new career choice is quite different than your old career, don’t feel as though you have to discard all your previous experience. In fact, you probably have several key skill sets that can transfer to your new careers — things such as communications, leadership, planning.
Step 4: Training and Education. Often times making the transition to a new career requires additional education or training. Whatever you do, don’t jump into a program without fully investigating. Take your time.
Step 5: Networking. Once you’ve decided on a new career path, you should immediately go about joining the key professional organizations in that career field. Go to a conference, join a discussion board, read the industry blogs… start networking with the people in your new career.
Step 6: Gaining Experience. Whether it’s part-time or volunteer work, be sure to gain experience in your new career field while making the transition.
Step 7: Find a Mentor. Having a mentor can make all the difference between success and failure. A mentor can help you with decision-making, offer support and advice, and just be there on those bad days.
Stop 8: Changing In or Out. If you hate your job, but love your employer there may be a chance that you can switch careers without ever leaving the company. Progressive employers value good workers, so don’t assume you’ll need to find a new job elsewhere.
Step 9: Job-Hunting Basics. If you’ve been out of the job-search for a few years, you need to spend some time brushing up on key job-search skills, especially interviewing.
Step 10: Be Flexible. As you begin to make your career change, you’re going to need to be flexible about things such as salary and relocation.
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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