You’ve had it. You’re tired of your current industry and are more than ready to try something else. Good for you! The first step to changing careers is knowing what you really want and trusting that you have what it takes to get there. But before you jump ship, take a step back and make a plan for yourself. Changing careers takes a lot of effort, and there are five things you absolutely need to ask yourself before you do.
Do I have the right education or relative work experience?
That Bachelor’s degree in Accounting may not help you if you’ve decided to become a history teacher. Do some research on what education or experience is required for your new dream career. Do you need to go back to school? Should you take classes part-time or full-time? How will you fund your education? If you need to consider graduate school, Peterson’s is a great free, online resource. If you don’t think you need a new degree, should you learn new skills before you start the job hunt? Websites like Coursera and edX let you take college courses from top schools for free.
Do I know anybody else in this industry/profession?
Networking may not be your favorite activity, but if you’re looking to switch careers, it’s time to break out the rolodex (and update your LinkedIn profile). The best thing you can do is reach out to friends, former colleagues, and fellow alumni and offer to buy them a cup of coffee. Not only do you get to catch up with old friends, but you’ll be able to grow professionally in the process. Use this time to ask for advice and about the industry you want to join. The more you know, the closer you are to your end goal. Plus, your friends may offer to put you in contact with others so your network can keep growing.
Can I afford to make this change?
The expense of graduate school aside, your new dream job may pay significantly less that what your current job does. A new career may mean an entirely new lifestyle, and you need to make sure that’s something you’re okay with. It may take you months or years to transition to your new career, so it’s wise to have savings before quitting your job and taking the leap. Keep in mind family members or other loved ones that rely on you for financial support. You should discuss your potential career moves with them to make sure you’re on the same page, though don’t be afraid if they don’t approve of your choices. What’s most important is how you feel, and the people who care about you most will hopefully understand that.
How long will this journey take me?
Unfortunately, a career change can take anywhere from a month to a few years. You don’t need to create a day-by-day itinerary, but you should take all of the above into account and create a plan. Give yourself realistic deadlines and practical goals that will get you closer to where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to share your plan with your friends so they can motivate you to keep going when it gets tough – you can never have too much support.
Am I making this change for the right reason?
Dreaming of being the next Marissa Mayer is a lot more glamorous than doing the work to make it happen. Just because you’re tired of your current job (or boss) doesn’t mean that it’s time to completely change industries. You may just need a vacation or to switch to a different company. Take some time to self-reflect and ask yourself the most important question: Are you happy? If not, why? If you are chronically exhausted, don’t feel fulfilled in your work, and/or are generally unhappy – a career change may be your best option. Give this decision a lot of thought and don’t make it lightly. If you believe in yourself and are passionate about what you’re doing, you can do anything you put your mind to!