Time for a Career Change? Factors to Consider
Sometimes our intended professional paths take twists and turns that leave us looking down a different road. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom ready to re-emerge in a field that’s changed since you left, a military veteran recently discharged from service, or someone whose decided that it’s time for something new, there are some points to consider that will help you make a smoother transition on your career journey:
Skills Assessment: Before you make your move, create a list of your current skills and strengths. Don’t limit yourself to what you’ve done in your work life, either. Consider hobbies, volunteer activities, and other areas in which you have gained proficiency over time. Your skills and strength inventory will help you start to match what you know with what you need for your next job.
Know Your Interests and Values: Switching careers is an opportunity to do something that excites you. After all, we spend 8 or more hours a day at work. Shouldn’t this time and effort be towards a purpose we believe in? Job satisfaction comes from more than a paycheck. It’s also about doing what we love to do, day in and out. While you might not be able to translate a hobby into a fulltime gig, you can consider other factors that are aligned with what’s important to you and what you’d enjoy in a profession.
Do Your Research: Once you know what matters most to you from a career, you can start to research opportunities that match your skills and interests. Read blogs and journals related to this type of work or industry and consider what options are available. Don’t forget first-person accounts. You might ask to meet with someone in the position you seek and listen to their thoughts on what you need to do to break into the field. A strong mentor can be your best ally during a career transition.
Explore Opportunities to Learn More: Moving on to a new position might require additional education. If that’s the case, you might look into returning to college for a new degree or even to complete one you started. Online programs have stepped up their games in the last decade, which means you can obtain a degree from an accredited university and enjoy the flexibility of studying at a time and location of your choosing.
Gain Experience and Network: Especially if you’re returning to the workforce after years at home or away, you’ll need to rebuild your professional network and perhaps boost your experience. There are many options to do so that can bolster your visibility. Volunteering is one way to gain exposure and put skills to work. You might also join professional organizations or attend events at which people in your intended field will be.
It does take time and effort to transition to a new career, but if you put together a concrete plan and are determined to follow it, the investment you place into this endeavor will yield positive results. Good luck.