Introduction

At its most basic level, changing careers requires a leap of faith that your intention of changing careers, and then acting on that intention, will result in a better life. The majority of people contemplate changing careers at some point. There are many triggers can compel an individual to re-assess goals. One motivator is a commitment to doing work that has both meaning and enjoyment.

The Process

Changing careers has a unique group of challenges and hurdles. At the top of the challenge list is helping others around you accept the premise that you are meant to be something other than you presently are. The spouse who feels safe in the comfort zone of steady cash-flow may resist the idea of “starting over”.

Likewise, the prospective employer must be convinced that you have every intention of staying the course, should you be the chosen candidate for the job. Transferable skill-sets are critical in changing careers. Employers will give weight to prior work experience, given that you have skill-sets that are complementary to the requirements of the open position. Simply put, how will your existing skills be transferable to your new career objectives?

One huge advantage anyone has in changing careers is that it’s expected. Employers don’t think twice about a job seeker looking to transfer skill-sets. But it wasn’t always so.

The concept of changing careers one or more times in one’s lifetime is a relatively new sociological phenomenon. Up to the 1970s the career model was to get landed with a company, work one’s way up through the ranks by virtue of promotions and retire with a secure pension. Changing careers was not even on the radar screen for most professionals.

Demographic shift, outsourcing, downsizing, and mutual reduction of loyalty between company and worker have changed all that. Loyalty to the company was the mantra, with an expectation that loyalty would be valued by the company.

How many careers have you had to date? One? Two or more? Americans now change careers an average of three times in their life. A critical factor in career change is to figure out what pushes your buttons. Consider your motivations in work and how you get enjoyment from your job. Example: Money may be your primary motivator. Or perhaps flex-time is at the top of your list. Figure out your motivations-and career choices will become apparent.

Entrepreneurship isn’t normally considered a career change, but it is. If for any reason you have decided to leave your full-time or part-time position to start your own business, then you are indeed changing careers.

You may be branching off from your current occupation, or a side gig has turned into a full-time opportunity. One study found that people who change careers to work for themselves feel more secure in their self-employment than those who work for others.

Seasoned adults will take a leap of faith to return to school, if they have a high enough belief level that additional education will give them a critical edge. And sometimes people will go back to school as a tool to figure out what line of new work will be satisfying,

Pitfalls

Do not switch careers because of outside pressure to land a better job. You may end up resenting the person who suggested making the switch.

Don’t confuse distaste for a current position within a career field with disliking the overall career field. Dispassionately evaluate employer, job, and current career field. Whatever you decide, work up a game-plan for gaining that new career.

And do your “due diligence”. Don’t jump into a new field until you research all options. Investigate unconsidered fields. Network with professionals, and study career profiles. Consider working with a career counselor or life coach. If it’s been a while since you were last on the job market, take the time to polish your job-search skills, techniques, and tools.

Do not change careers just to try emulating others success. It’s a trap, comparing another person’s success to our life. And it makes for a huge negative motivator, sure to come back to haunt you. Your neighbor or friend may be happy and successful in his career, but that doesn’t mean you can replicate that success for yourself.

Conclusion

Changing careers can be both exciting and frightening. It is a major decision. Look before you leap. Avoid common mistakes as you move from one field into the next. Once you have become comfortable in a career, the thought of changing careers seem overwhelming.

These thoughts are often accompanied by the possibility of accepting new work at a lower level of pay-a huge disincentive to make a change. It takes a leap of faith to overcome such powerful negative motivators.

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