Changing Careers

There are many different reasons to change careers. In some situations, you may want to change careers because you are unsatisfied with the money you are making.

In other cases, it has to do with the lack of work benefits. Sometimes, you are burnt out with your job, or feel like the career advancement options are too limited. Even if you are miserable at work, it can still be very intimidating to think about switching careers, especially if you have a family.

For many employees, the biggest concern with changing careers is fear of failure. It may have taken you years to develop your current career skills. The last thing you want to do is spend years learning new career skills, only to find you are not good enough for the job. Changing careers is not a decision you should rush. Take the time to consider both the advantages and disadvantages associated with a career change. You should also figure out what your new career will require, and whether your current skillset will translate well to your new line of work.

Things to Know When Considering a Career Change

One of the important things to consider with a career change is your overall happiness. Many employees make the mistake of waiting until they are miserable with their current jobs before looking for new careers. It may seem like it is a good move to wait until the last possible minute, but if you do this, you risk becoming burnt out. If you are burnt out from work, you will likely be miserable when you start your new career.

Another mistake you want to avoid is leaving your current career while there is a negative tone at your company. It is important you have a good relationship with your employees and employer, so you can use them as recommendations for future applications. If things do not work out with your new career, it also helps to have a positive relationship with former employers, in case you decide to return to your old career.

You also need to develop a strong financial plan before committing to a career change. It may take a long time for you to find a new career. During this period, you will not be making money. Even if you do find a new job relatively quickly, you will likely be earning less income, compared to your old job. This will balance out as you advance in your career, but it will take time.

How to Identify Transferable Work Skills

You can make your career change much easier if you transition into a job that uses at least some of the skills from your
previous jobs. If you prioritize these jobs, you will have a much stronger resumé, and may be able to circumvent working in a lower-level position. To start, you should compare your current resumé to a job listing for whatever career you are interested in pursuing. This will give you an opportunity to directly determine if your skills transfer over. If there are skills you do not have, try to gauge how important those skills are to the job, and how hard they are to acquire. If it is something small, such as learning how to use a specific program or completing a certification course, you may still be an eligible candidate. Some companies may even provide on-the-job training, as long as you meet enough of the other, more important qualifications.

If possible, speak with someone who is currently employed in the field in which you wish to transfer. Show the person a copy of your resumé, and ask whether he or she believes you are qualified for the position. You should also tell this reference what you did in your previous career, as you may have missed listing some skills on your resumé that are essential for the job you desire.

How Long to Stay at a Job to Develop a Strong Resumé

In some situations, you are forced to stay at a job solely to build up resumé experience. If you are doing this, it can be difficult to determine the right time to leave. The exact amount of time can vary, depending on the job. Most experts recommend remaining within a career for at least one year if you want to use the outpost to build your resumé. Most hiring managers dismiss anything under a year, since they believe this is not enough time to properly learn from the job.

If you already have long-term jobs listed on your resumé, you have a bit more flexibility. For example, having a six-month job listed alongside a five-year career will not raise red flags to a hiring manager. However, you should be prepared to answer questions during the interview regarding why you lasted in your job for such a short period of time.

Changing Careers After 50 Years of Age

The older you are, the harder it is to change your career. If you are over 50 years of age, it is especially difficult to change careers, since you will ideally be retiring from your new career in under 20 years. If you want to change careers after 50, you should prioritize any careers that build off of your existing experience. If you have 30 years of experience in a particular field, you should be able to start a new career in a higher-ranked position. If you are unsure what career to switch into, consider speaking with a career counselor to find something that lines up with your existing skillset. If possible, see if you can take classes while you are working your existing job, which can help transition into your new career. However, if you have to take several years of classes, you should consider a less-intensive career to begin anew.

How to Use Social Media to Advance Your Career

Social media has changed the way career advancement works. If you are planning to switch careers, make sure you have a strong social media presence to increase your odds of finding a new job. Before changing your career, consider:

  • Creating a LinkedIn profile, and uploading examples of your previous work.
  • Completing a professional Facebook profile. If there is something on your current Facebook page you would not want a new employer to see, make the page private, and use it solely for interacting with friends and family. It is not uncommon for professional workers to have two separate accounts, one for work and one for socializing.
  • Following hashtags on Twitter relevant to the career field you desire. Twitter is a good place to find out information, or to network with others in your desired field.

Practical Tips for a Successful Career Change

There is no way to change careers without doing research. Be honest with how difficult it will be to transition into a new job. If you are unhappy with your current career, you need to carefully assess whether the new career will have the same problems as your existing career. In some situations, the problem is with your company and not with your career. Instead of changing careers entirely, decide whether working with a different company is enough to make you happy. In addition, a new job in the same career, may solve your existing work problems.

If the career you wish to transition into requires certain skills, take the time to develop them while you are still working. In some situations, you may be able to receive additional training from your current job. Some companies are also willing to pay for you to go to school and get additional certification, if it relates to your current job. However, you may be required to work in your current position for a certain amount of time after completing the classes, in exchange for the payment.

Look for jobs in your new career while you are still employed. It may seem disloyal, but it is ultimately safer than quitting your job and not having any career options lined up.

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