5 Steps to Making a Successful Career Change
Are you stuck in a career that isn’t for you?
If you are starting to dread going in to the office every morning, it might be time to consider a career change. Kathy Caprino, an international expert on career success for women, shared that one of the biggest mistakes she sees career changers make is waiting until they are desperately unhappy to make a change.
Making a successful career switch is a conscientious process that takes time. If you are no longer enjoying your work, take charge of your career development by following these steps. Whether you are seeking to make a career change at 30, 40, or 50, the following career advice is good knowledge.
Step 01 | Get Clear On Why You Want To Make A Change
Most people are aware when they are not happy with where they are at, but do not have much awareness beyond that.
It is important that you gain clarity on the reasons why you want to make a change. This helps to prevent the mistake of spending time and effort on building a new career when you are actually looking for a change in your work environment. Another possible mistake that you will be preventing is switching to another field in which you would be equally unhappy in.
Take some time to think about what has changed for you in terms of your current career. Are you looking to make a switch because an acquaintance in another field seems to be doing extremely well? Is it because of the prestige associated with being in a ‘hot’ field? Or is it because your career interests and values have changed?
Step 02 | Examine Your Interests and Strengths
Now that you are clear about why there is no longer a fit between you and your current career, it is time to examine your interests and strengths. If you are not sure or would like to explore more about your interests and strengths, career assessment tools such as the Career Interests Inventory and VIA Character Strengths Test can be very insightful. These are a few tools that I use with my clients for career counselling.
This is also a good time to take stock of the career capital that you have built over the years. Examine your current work responsibilities and note down any transferable skills that you have acquired over the years. Transferable skills are skill sets that can be transferred between different occupations, such as the ability to chair meetings, facilitate groups, or manage a team.
Step 03 | Make Small Career Experiments
Some people have an idea of what they would like to do next, while others are completely clueless about their next move. A good way to gain clarity on what you would like to do is to make small career experiments. Making career experiments allows you to test out different ideas in your head before you tumble headfirst into something new. It also allows you to assess if there is a fit between your new career and yourself.
In the changing environment of today, many individuals are building fulfilling careers for themselves with job descriptions that we previously would not have imagined. Have you ever heard of careers such as a professional bridesmaid, or a professional reader? There is a good chance that you would be carving out this ideal career yourself.
Review the list of interests, strengths and skills that you have consolidated from the previous step. What are some interests, strengths and skills that you have really enjoyed using? What skills would you like to see yourself developing further?
Some ideas of possible career experiments would be offering to manage the social media accounts of your friend’s start-up, designing and running a one-time workshop, or taking up a short course.
Step 04 | Solidify the What
After you have made a few career experiments, it is time to pin down exactly what you want.
What were some of the things that you have learnt about yourself from the career experiments that you have made? For me, I always knew that I wanted to do something related to health and wellness, but did not exactly know what. I started out with making and selling healthy smoothies to my colleagues. What I learnt from this one year experiment was that I preferred listening to my colleagues share about their health concerns and giving them recommendations, rather than making and selling a physical product. This experience helped me understand more about what I liked, and what I did not like.
Consider these questions:
- Does this career support the strengths and skills that I want to grow in?
- Does this career fit my personal and work values?
- Will I thrive and be my best self in this work environment?
Do not be afraid to go back to examining your interests and making career experiments. The more you know about yourself, the more likely that you will be making an informed decision about your career.
Step 05 | Position Yourself in Your New Career Identity
Career experiments are very important for career changers. Your stint helps you to establish working experience and credentials in the new field, making you more relevant to new employers. A common question that career changers often have is when they should start introducing themselves using their new career identities. This is an important question, as our personal identities are very closely tied to our careers. We tend to introduce ourselves by our profession when meeting someone for the first time. Individuals who make mid-career switches tend to doubt themselves as to whether they are ‘good enough’ to refer to themselves using their new career identities.
The truth is that no one will give you the green light on when you become established enough. Instead of thinking that you are lacking in the related academic qualifications that others who pursued it as their only careers have, recognize you do have other valuable, and equally important skill sets.
A good starting point would be to begin positioning yourself in your new career identity once your career experiment starts to gain some success. For example, this could be when your friend’s start-up gains five new clients through your social media marketing efforts. These small successes will become the launchpad for you to establish yourself in your new career.
Need some ideas for your career experiment? Send me an email detailing your current and ideal career, and I will send some suggestions your way.
Images in content by Freepik.