When it’s time to make a serious career shift, you know it. Whether you’re looking to make a small adjustment to your current career path, or a major shift to an entirely new career altogether: it’s important to make the right moves with the right strategy. As you look at others who’ve both failed and succeeded at changing their own careers, no matter what stage of the game, it’s easy to tell: there’s a smart way to do it, and a… well, not so smart way. Take a look at this short list of tips, and use them to strategize your career change. It will pay off in the end, and you’ll see that changing careers the smart way is worth it!
Step One: Choosing the right Career
There’s so much you can say about choosing the career that’s right for you, but it can really be broken down into a few basic categories.
1. Do you enjoy the work?
There’s nothing worse than going to a job you hate every day… so if you think you’ve found the new career path for you, start by asking yourself “will I enjoy this every day?” If you like other factors about the job like money and free time, that doesn’t make up for it. The answer needs to be “yes.”
2. Does it fulfill your life goals?
If you have life goals like marriage, a family, and home ownership; you might need to consider where these goals fit into your new career choice. It’s not all about money either; you need to think about the schedule of your new career, and how that will fit with things like marriage and raising kids.
3. Does it have a future?
Safe to say, no career is a career without a future and somewhere to go. Your job is always only as safe as its next step. If you only have one skill to learn, you could be replaced by a robot in one day – that’s no joke. Always be thinking about your next move, and if your new career can offer that to you.
Step Two: Researching the Move
The best way to research a new career before you make the move is to talk to people who already work in that field. While books and websites may tell you a lot of facts about a career, they can’t tell you what it really feels like to work it. A great way to get this inside interview is to conduct informational interviews; typically of a lunch that you pay for. After you’ve asked some gripping questions that will lead to the most honest and non-generic answers about the proposed career path; make sure you make it easy to stay in touch. You should always have a set of personal business cards on hand – ones with your personal information, not your current employer’s. This will make it easy for your new industry contact to get in touch with you if and when they’ve found any unique, entry-level opportunities for you to get your feet wet.
Step Three: Taking action
When you’ve researched, found the ideal career, and made great industry connections – it’s now time to make the actual switch. Moving careers can be as easy as just quitting your current job – but that’s not the best way to handle this situation. Instead of the typical two-week notice, make sure to give your employers a solid three to four-week advanced notice of your departure – and why. If you make it clear that you don’t want to leave their company for something “better” in the same industry, but just something “better” for you – they’ll have all the respect in the world, and you’ll be in an excellent position for references. When you start in your new career position, remember to keep in touch with your old employers – it will always help you to maintain your bridges… who