Are you yearning for a career change? Changing careers later on in life makes sense for many reasons. You deserve to feel happy and passionate about what you do for a living. If you’ve lost the lust for your current job, use these tips to transition to a new career you can feel good about.
Transition While You’re Still Employed
When you’ve mentally decided on a career change, you may be eager to quit your current job so you can hurry up and get started on building your new career. Not so fast. Your current employment is a valuable tool that will help you transition.
First, you need to feel stable and secure as you venture onto a new career path. Being without a job and a paycheck is a fast track to feeling desperate, which will sabotage your efforts.
A second reason to stay at your current job is for the references and referrals. Your network will play a crucial role in your career change. If you suddenly quit, that network will shrink, which is the opposite of what you need.
Third, there’s no way of telling how long your career change will take. Depending on what you’re aiming for, it may take weeks, months or even a couple of years. Staying at your current job allows you the freedom of time to ensure your career change is secure and permanent. It also helps you make career decisions borne from careful consideration instead of a sense of urgency.
Finally, it isn’t easy to hear, but the reality is that you can’t be selfish when transitioning to a new career. You have an obligation to your creditors and to your family members to maintain your current source of income. You need to keep paying bills and keep putting food on the table as per usual. You may need to apply for extra credit to pay to build your new career, and you need to ensure that your family doesn’t have to pay a price for your personal career wishes.
If you’re particularly unhappy in your current job, it’s tempting to tell everyone in sight about your plans for a career transition; especially your boss and colleagues. But “shouting it from the rooftops” isn’t the way to go here. Yes, it’s okay to “tell the universe what you want” (in your private moments), but it isn’t okay to announce your plans to anyone who will lend an ear.
There are certain politics at play when a person decides to leave a place of employment. Anyone who’s been in the corporate world for any length of time understands the undercurrents and nuances that are the transparent backdrop of a typical office environment. If you tell the wrong person, you may alienate office coworkers and supervisors or even jeopardize your continued employment. The last thing you need is to get laid off before you’re ready to move on to your next career.
You want to remain in total control of the situation from the moment you conceive of your plans to the time when you’re completely ensconced in your new career role. For that to happen, you need to play your cards close to your chest.
If need be, choose one or two trusted and close confidants who are in a position to keep your secret, preferably ones who have no connections with your current work. Family members should be encouraged to keep the information private. Young children probably don’t need to know details until or unless they are finalized.
Choose a Career Where You Can Build on Existing Strengths
It’s technically feasible to change to any new career that you want. In theory, you could leave your insurance career, go to medical school for six or eight years, and become a physician. But it isn’t practical to start all over from scratch in your career change. Thankfully, you don’t have to, either.
The smart thing to do is to choose a new career where you can build on existing strengths rather than start from the ground floor.
How to Assess Your Strengths
First, sit down and list your strengths. Think about all the things that you do well in your job on a daily basis. Let’s use an example of a corporate executive who wants to do a career change to become a financial planner.
- Easily converses with people with prestigious backgrounds
- Excellent business acumen
- Understands the importance of teamwork
- Knows how to please clients
- Good problem solving skills
- Knows how to manage and motivate employees
- And more…
Assess What You’d Need to be a Success in Your New Career
Now sit down and make a list of the all the skills you’d need to succeed in your new career. This list should include any certifications you may need. Continuing with the previous example, financial planners need professional certifications as well as skills and qualities:
- Comfortable being responsible for other people’s financial accounts
- Ability to understand and predict market fluctuations
- Ability to match clients’ goals to financial products
- And more…
Gain the Skills and Certifications You Lack
The next step is your first real challenge. You must ascertain what skills and certifications you lack. So between the first list and the second, what’s missing? This is where you will need to either attend night or online classes, work on your own self-improvement, or gain experience in an area where you’re lacking. Since you’re still working and taking care of yourself and your family, you’ll need to carve out more time in an already busy schedule. Just remember that this is one of the hardest parts of a career transition, but it’s temporary. The time to commit to gaining the extra skills and certifications will pay off for you in the long run.
Once you’ve gained all you need to be a success in your new career choice, it’s time to connect with the industry. The first place you can do that is on LinkedIn. Reach out to companies that hire people like you. Reach out to others who provide services in that industry. Connect with people in your community who may need your services, or who may know about job openings. Update your resume and start searching for jobs in your new career on sites like Monster.com and Indeed.com. Join associations for professionals in your new field. The more you connect with the industry, the more you increase your likelihood of finding gainful employment in your new dream career.
Be Prepared to Work Your Way Up
Be ready for a slow start in your new career. You’ll have to pay your dues just like anyone else starting out. Just don’t give up. Success may come slowly, but it will come. Try not to be too choosy about salary or job opportunities. In the early stages, you just need to get your foot in the door. Once you’ve earned a reputation for being a stellar performer, you can negotiate for what you deserve.
A career change is challenging and sometimes scary. But it’s definitely something that you can achieve. And when you think about it, why spend time doing something you dislike, when you can spend your workday doing something you feel passionate about? Every step of a career change is worth the time and effort it takes!