If you’re thinking of taking a big leap to change your career, there are many things to consider. People change their careers for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the reasons:
- Your career goals may have changed.
- The career values that you are holding on to may have changed.
- You have discovered a new interest that you like to integrate into your job.
- You have learned a new skill that you think may be lucrative.
- You would like to earn more money.
- Your enthusiasm about your job is dwindling because you no longer believe in your company’s mission and vision.
Without a doubt, embarking on a new career is an important decision. This is an important transition that requires a lot of thought and planning. It is more realistic to reinvent your career gradually and make small changes over time. The bottom line is that you should be able to choose a career that will bring you satisfaction and fulfill your passion.
Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you have a successful career change:
1. Step back and take a good look at yourself
If you are planning a career change, the first step is to know yourself more deeply. You need to list your values, priorities, non-negotiables, preferences, and your goals in life. In doing this, you might want to take stock of your past successes, identify your preferred activities, and list down your best skills. You need to be able to identify whether your goals, skills, and values align with your current career. In order to help you, there are available tools to assist you in determining your career aptitude.
Looking at yourself with a different lens is important because looking at your life from an altered perspective will help you rediscover yourself and give insight on what you want most in your career. However, self-reflection is merely the first step. While the process of knowing your values and strengths is important, these discoveries are useless without sufficient follow-through.
2. Assess your current career.
The next step in assessing your career is to have a closer look at your job satisfaction, evaluating your reactions to various situations in your current job. Keeping a journal or a digital log of what you like or dislike most about your job will be helpful in analyzing the root cause of your desire to change.
3. Consider alternative careers by listing down your options.
You can research career options by initially conducting a preliminary investigation of several fields. There are many online lists of job titles and descriptions. Find a list of careers that center around your strengths and passions.
Make a big list of options first, then rank these options based on personal fit, conditions for personal job satisfaction, and other long-term key factors. Based on the results of the ranking, create a shortlist.
From the shortlist, consider doing the following steps:
- Shadow professionals in your chosen field and observe their work first-hand
- Choose options that will let you try it out
- Try the career option on the side
Whether it is freelance work, consulting, or doing a short project, it is a worthy endeavor to practice your skills on the side. This is a good idea in order for you to find out whether you are fit for this new career.
Here is a perfect example:
My friend Mr. X, a marketing executive, is considering changing his career. He is not happy with his job and considers it very unfulfilling. After doing self-reflection, evaluating his current career and considering alternatives, he has discovered that he has a natural talent, growing skills and a passion for playing online poker. Through research and networking, he found out that playing poker is a lucrative career alternative. He is very excited at the prospect of having a full-time career playing poker online.
However, before delving into online poker head-on as a full-time career, Mr. X is currently trying it out, playing an online poker game of Texas Holdem or Omaha High at 888poker in his spare time. He is pretty sure that he will eventually take a leap from amateur to professional in the future, but he is currently learning the ropes by practicing his skills in his spare time. Gaining experience in a new career through part-time or volunteer work is essential before taking the plunge and going full-time.
4. Network with people in your chosen sector.
After you have narrowed down the field and have chosen one or two careers, spread your net wide and network in your chosen sector. Going back to Mr. X the poker player, once he made the decision to pursue poker as an alternative career, he began to reach out to personal contacts in the field. Networking is important so that you could get information about the field that you’re interested in. People in your network may also give you job leads and offer you valuable advice. It is also a good idea to join professional organizations in your new field.
5. Take a short course and hone your skills.
It may be necessary to bridge your current skills with the skills that your new chosen field requires. While there are a number of transferable skills from your current career that you can leverage on such as communications, mentoring, management, planning, and leadership, it is also necessary to learn new knowledge and skills in your new career. In learning new skills, you can take a short course, earn a degree, or do an internship. There are some jobs that would require certification, and if you need this in your new chosen career, you would have to take time to get the accreditation that you need.
6. Look for a mentor
Everyone agrees that a career change is a major life decision. One of the things that could help ease the transition is to look for a career mentor, a person who is part of your target field, who ideally has an influential position, who could guide you through the process. This mentor will be able to help you by walking you through the ins and outs of the industry that you are about to join, holding your hand through the rough patches, and using his or her influence to give you industry opportunities.
7. Leave your job
There will come a time when you know that you are ready to leave your current job and start your new career. If it has been a while since you have used job-hunting tools, make sure that you are updated when it comes to writing resumes and cover letters. You should also brush up on interviewing and salary negotiation. Make sure that you give adequate notice to your current company. Your employment contract states how much notice you should give, and you need to abide by it.
This detailed step-by-step plan to changing your career includes the usual advice of assessing your current career to more out-of-the-box recommendations such as pursuing a job where your passion lies, such as playing online poker.
No matter where it takes you, it takes real courage to admit to yourself and to actually pursue a career change and act upon it.