You’ve been working for a while and you realize your present career is taking you nowhere. You’re still young enough to take your “bag of skills and experience” and segue into something the puts the fire back in your belly. Here’s how to make the leap without getting lost.
- Don’t Procrastinate. It’s easy to put off a career change. After all, the economy is still pretty shaky. Real unemployment is still high—way north of the government’s “happy talk” figure of 7 percent. But if you’re going nowhere and just treading water, it’s time to step up and make the big move. The first step is to overcome your fear of cutting your present umbilical cord. Life is short. Go for the gold.
- Don’t Underestimate Yourself. Many people don’t believe they can survive a career change. They tell themselves that for the past 5 or 10 years, they’ve put all their skills, talents and education into one career basket. To overcome this self-doubt, make a list of your innate talents and people skills—things you can transfer over to virtually any career. You’d be surprised by just how many skills you’ve picked up over the years. So don’t sell yourself short.
- Don’t Ignore Your Gut. Stop thinking practically and let your natural talents guide you toward a more fulfilling career. Let these right brain thoughts gel for a while, then shift them over to your left brain to see if your new career can support you. You may have to compromise and limit your choices here, but the goal is to fully exploit your transferrable skills into a job you’ll look forward to every day.
- Don’t Ignore Your “Monthly Nut.” Changing careers usually means a drop in salary. So plan to reduce your discretionary spending. Map out what you absolutely need to maintain a decent lifestyle month by month and plan to stick to that figure. It may be tough at first, but moving into a career that makes you happy will more than make up for it.
- Don’t Make a Blind Move. Do your research on the career you’ve chosen. Dig into what it takes to break in, to move up, and to succeed. Find out from organizations in your new field what classes, certifications and technical skills you’ll need to land a job in your new career. People skills are important, but don’t underestimate the need for specific tradecraft. HR managers and recruiters will be looking for these skills, knowledge and abilities when they review your resume and cover letter.
- Don’t Ignore Hubris. Chances are if you land a job in your new chosen career, you’ll start pretty much at the bottom. You may be working for people younger and less experienced in the world of work then you. Don’t ignore the dangers of hubris. You have innate skills, education and real-world experience, but you’re still a newbie to the field. So listen and learn. Don’t be overly eager to move up the ladder when you first start. Even if you already know what a co-worker or supervisor is about to say, listen intently, act interested, and thank them for taking the time to “work with you.”
Ready to change careers? Don’t move forward without first understanding who you are, what really ignites your passion and what you’ll need to succeed.
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