6 Things to consider before making a career transition
According to a recent report, nearly half of U.S. employees are unhappy at work. The reasons driving so many people to make big career changes are numerous, including everything from a lack of advancement opportunities to general unhappiness related to workload.
Perhaps you’re itching to join these career changers. Whether you no longer feel challenged in your current industry or there’s a new path you’ve long felt compelled to try, it might be time to consider a career transition.
But before you commit to uprooting your career entirely, you’ll want to be certain you’re making the right decision. We spoke with a handful of hiring managers and professionals who’ve experienced career changes of their own to learn the insights they gathered along the way. Keep these six considerations in mind as you ponder your own potential career transition.
6 Questions to ask yourself before committing to a career transition
Switching career paths on a whim will likely lead to more frustration than anything. You want to make sure you seriously think through such a significant life change by asking yourself a number of questions.
1. Why do you want to switch careers?
If you’re finding yourself drawn to the idea of changing your career, you might be unsure how to navigate such a multifaceted decision. Identifying your reasons for wanting to leave your current industry can be a helpful place to start.
“The most important thing for you to analyze before switching careers is your motivation,” offers Mollie Moric, career advisor and hiring manager at Resume Genius. “Are you interested in switching to a new career because you are bored, dissatisfied, frustrated, underappreciated or undervalued?”
Moric notes that it’s important to ask yourself if you could potentially run into the same problems in the new career you’re considering. “With a bit of hard work, you might find that you’re able to find the satisfaction you’re looking for without having to make a drastic career change,” she suggests.
2. Can you afford it?
It’s important to think long term about the impact a career transition could have on your financial stability. If you’re hoping to change industries, you may end up starting from scratch in an entry-level position.
“I recommend people consider whether they can afford a temporary pay cut and whether they’re comfortable with a possible change in status,” advises physical therapist Meredith Castin, who left patient care to pursue life as a writer and career coach.
3. Will making a career transition diminish a passion?
It can be easy to get caught up in the daydream of pursuing a career you’re passionate about, but career changers should take a realistic look at the path they’re considering, advises Steve Pritchard, human resources manager at Cuuver.com.
“If you are considering pursuing your personal passion as a full-time career, you need to ask yourself whether this might kill the joy,” he says. “Many people have turned their passion into a career and it has robbed them of the love they once had for it.”
4. Are you willing to invest in yourself?
At times, it can feel difficult to justify the financial investment of going back to college to help complete a career transition—especially if you’ve already earned a degree in a different field. As you examine your potential in a new career, it’s up to you to determine whether the investment will be worth it. But it can be helpful to consider the words of those who have walked this path before you.
Adam Coughran began his career as a police officer, but he discovered his desire to teach when he later graduated from Brandman University with an MA in organizational leadership. He taught at the police academy, then began speaking at conferences, recording training videos and more. Before he knew it, he’d transitioned to life as owner of Standards Training Group, a training and consulting company.
“If there’s one investment that, at any given time, you should never doubt or second guess, it would be the investment in yourself by way of education, training and [continually] improving,” Coughran says. “While you can’t always quantify it in dollars and cents, you can quantify it in the process, in the people and in your way of life and quality of life after the fact.”
5. Is there opportunity in this new industry?
Another important factor to consider is what the future could look like in your intended career. It’s not much help to pursue a role that’s seeing diminishing opportunities.
“Consider the potential growth of the position, company or industry you are considering switching to,” Moric suggests. “Before committing yourself to a career change, it’s important to analyze the industry trends and future projections to ensure that you’re making a sustainable decision.”
It can also be helpful to determine whether your current skillset could easily transfer to your new role. There may even be a chance to position your current skills and experience in a way that gives you an advantage as you venture back into the job search arena.
6. Have you spoken with people working in your desired industry?
It’s a great idea to learn the insider details of a new career path you’re considering. It’s easier than you might think.
“I highly recommend that career changers spend a good amount of time engaging in informational interviews and job shadowing with as many professionals as possible,” Castin says. And take your time. “The more you pick people’s brains and shadow them on the job, the more accurate a representation you’ll get of the career,” she adds.
Determine your next move
If you’ve considered these six questions and you feel confident about your decision to make a career transition, it’s time to start crafting a plan of action. Many individuals who are stepping from one industry into another find they may still need to return to school for the necessary education even if their professional experience could set them apart from other job candidates.
Going back to college after spending a healthy amount of time in the working world can be daunting. It’s normal to have some concerns, but you should know that adult students have some unique advantages in the college classroom. Learn more by checking out our article on how adult students are positioned for success in college.
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