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Your interests and professional goals can change dramatically over the years, and the career that you chose as a young adult may no longer be desirable for you. If you are bored, stressed, or otherwise unhappy with your current career choice, you may be thinking about changing careers.
While many people successfully change careers once, twice or more in their adult years, this is nonetheless a monumental decision that could have far-reaching ramifications. It should be done with care and only after considerable analysis and research.
Many people do successfully make a career switch, but there are also many who regret their decision and are stuck in a new field that they dislike even more than the original field they worked in. If you want to enjoy the best possible outcome from this process, avoid making these common mistakes when preparing to change careers.
1. Confusing Hating Your Job With Hating Your Career
Some people give up a career that they actually enjoy because of an unpleasant work environment or a difficult boss. In some cases, the position is dull, monotonous, or stressful. However, you may not have the same experience working for a different company in a similar position.
Carefully consider if you truly hate the actual work that you are doing or if things may be better in a different company or position within the same field. It may be easier to simply find a new position in your field than to switch gears entirely.
In addition, by doing so, you will be able to use the training and experience you already have without having to start from scratch in a new field.
2. Choosing a Career That Does Not Really Suit You
It is easy to be envious of successful friends and family members in different fields, but their career may not be well-suited for your skills or personality.
Remember that their skills, training, and even luck may be different than yours, and you cannot expect to mimic their level of success yourself.
If you want to be truly happy and successful in a new career that you select, take inventory of your current interests, hobbies, skills, and more. Then, list the things that you do not want to do professionally in a new job.
With these lists, brainstorm career options that are best suited for you, and avoid the impulse to follow the path of successful friends or family members.
3. Idealizing Your New Career
It is easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that your life will be more relaxing and your bank account balance higher if you switch careers. From the outside looking in, many careers seem ideal. However, the reality is that all careers have their stresses and challenges.
Before you make a hard switch, consider taking classes in your new field, or volunteer in some way on the weekend. You can take a part-time job in your field, or you may speak with others who are currently working in the field.
Pay attention to the pros and cons to make a wise, informed career decision.
4. Making a Career Change Based Solely on Earnings
It is common to research potential earnings before making a career switch, but this should not be your sole guiding factor.
Focus your attention on how interesting and satisfying you find the job. Look at the long-term growth potential for the career or industry over the next few decades.
Choose a job with great potential and that will be enjoyable for you to work in. Remember that dissatisfaction with jobs is the top stressor for working adults.
5. Not Planning Ahead Financially
It can take many months or even years to successfully switch careers. This is because you may need to gain a new degree or specialized training. You may also need to build up experience with a lower-paying job before you can earn a higher income level in a more demanding position in your new field.
Understand how long the financial transition will take, and ensure that you have enough money available to get you through this period of time. Remember that you may also have to pay for training or classes while living on a reduced income.
If necessary, scale back your spending and lifestyle to compensate for the income reduction.
6. Neglecting Education
If you are making a hard switch to a completely different field, you understandably need to gain new experiences and skills.
From a marketing specialist to accountant and mover, every job has its own skill requirements. You may need to take professional training courses, earn certifications, and more.
Research the qualifications for the positions you want to apply for before you make a final career decision, and understand what it will take to gain the skills and education needed for the positions.
7. Making a Career Change Based Upon Outside Pressure
Your career dictates how you spend the bulk of your waking hours each week. It also dictates your earning potential and even where you may live. Many people face external pressure from family and friends to switch to a new line of work.
While some may have sound recommendations for you to consider, the ultimate decision should be made by you after careful consideration of all relevant factors.
8. Rushing Into a Career Change Without Doing the Research
It is imperative that you are realistic about what it will take to change careers. After you take the steps to get properly qualified to work in a new field, it may still take several months or even a year or longer to find an entry-level position in your field.
Remember that your previous work experience may not be relevant in a new career, so you can expect to start at the bottom of the ladder in a new field.
9. Neglecting Networking
When you enter a new field, you likely have very few or no professional contacts. This means that you need to make a concerted effort to develop industry relationships.
You can attend industry-specific events or take entry-level positions in the new field. You may also make use of social media to connect with top professionals in your new field.
While you want to make connections, do so in a professional way without being annoying to them. If possible, establish a mentorship so that you can launch your new career more easily and successfully.
10. Giving Up Too Soon
You may understandably feel out of place in your new field while you make the transition. This feeling can last for several months or longer. During this time, you may be inclined to go back to your old career for the sake of comfort and familiarity. However, resist this urge.
When you stick with your new career choice, it will get easier and more comfortable over time. Changing careers may be one of the best professional moves you can make if you are truly unhappy in your current field.
However, this process can be challenging and stressful. You may have to endure extensive training and periods of unemployment during the process. In addition, there will be mental and emotional adjustments as you transition to a new field, position, and company.
With this in mind, it is important to determine if a career change is right for you with care, and it is also important to develop a strategic plan to guide you through this process.