Making a career change is a major decision, but it is also one that is often in your own best interest. If your current career isn’t giving you job satisfaction or isn’t helping you achieve your financial goals in life, it may be time for a change. When you do decide to change careers, though, it’s very important that you go about it the right way. Here are six of the top tips you should keep in mind while you’re planning and executing a career transition.
Start Your Search Quietly
Once you’ve decided that your current career isn’t meeting your expectations, it’s time to begin the search for a new one. In these early stages, it’s usually best to be discreet. The time between deciding that you need a new career and actually starting it can be quite long. During that time, you’ll almost certainly need to stay in your old career to maintain your income. To avoid troubling your current employer, keep your career search quiet until you’ve made some more concrete plans.
Identify Some Opportunities
There are so many careers available today that choosing just one can be extremely difficult. The best way to go about selecting a new career is to narrow down your options to 5-10 choices that seem to fit your goals. When you’re identifying these possible career choices, you should keep money in mind, but it shouldn’t be your only criterion. Choose a career that genuinely interests you and will make you happy, as you don’t want to have to go through the entire process of changing careers again later on.
Update Your Education
After you’ve settled on the career from your narrowed-down list that you think is the best fit for you, you may discover that you don’t have the necessary qualifications for it. Don’t worry, though, as it’s relatively easy to go back to school to give your education an overhaul. You can choose to attend a traditional college, or you can use an online school to keep your schedule more flexible. The amount of new education you’ll need will depend largely on how different your new career is from your old one. For some, it may only require a new professional certificate, while others may have to earn an entirely new degree.
Don’t Ignore Networking
While you’re getting some new education, you can also begin to make some preliminary contacts in the industry you’re hoping to break into. Networking with active professionals is one of the best ways to improve your chances of getting a job in your new career field. You can also learn a lot from such people that you may never encounter in the classroom.
Be a Bit Picky in Accepting a New Job
One of the advantages of making a career change when you already have an established career is that you can afford to be picky about job offers. If you need to stay in your old job for a few extra months to find a new one that pays what you want, you have the option of doing so. Take advantage of this fact to be sure that you get the position and salary you want, rather than just the first thing that comes along.
Leave Your Current Career Gracefully
If you’re unsatisfied with your current career, it can be tempting to burn bridges when you leave. However, you should exit gracefully instead, as a hard exit can hurt your reputation and make it difficult for you to utilize old contacts from your previous work experience. Give adequate notice and make sure that all of your projects are either completed or smoothly transferred over to someone else before you leave.
Using these six tips, you can smoothly transition from one career to another without disrupting your professional life too much. Before you start implementing these tips, though, be sure that a new career is really what you want. In some cases, a new job within your current career field will give you the variety and room for advancement you need without the difficulty of changing careers altogether.