Life is about finding the perfect mesh between what you’re good at and what you love to do. Although it sounds simple, it’s not exactly that easy to find.
Maybe you’re reliable at this current job but feel like something is missing. Every day you drag your feet to your office. And when you’re there, your mind is imagining the what-ifs and what could have been if you hadn’t pursued this career. Then you had the sudden realization that maybe it’s time for a career change.
Many people struggle with this unsettling period in their lives. In fact, the average worker changes jobs at least 12 times. Even Giorgio Armani had a successful midlife career change at the age of 41. So why can’t you? But before you decide to pivot your career direction, evaluate yourself first and explore other career options that can satisfy your needs.
This article is not about changing your job because you dislike your boss or are tired of working. It is about how to make the scary leap into a brand new career to make your life more fulfilling.
What are the benefits of a career change?
In the midst of your career, after all the time and resources you’ve put in to master your skills, it’s natural to feel uncertain about changing careers. After all, there are risks involved during this transition. But big risks come with even greater rewards.
According to a recent survey, workers became happier and less stressed after they changed careers. This effect lasted for years after they made the shift.
Perhaps you’re going through some financial pressures that are stopping you from changing careers. So, here are some eye-opening benefits of career change to think about:
- A career change allows you to grow your skill sets. By working with a new team, you can expand your knowledge and gain new experiences as you face different challenges. This will make you valuable in the competitive job market.
- There’s an opportunity to improve your financial situation through a career change. You can increase your value if you decide to switch companies because of the experiences you gained from the previous one. For instance, after working at a retail shop for years, consider moving to another store as a manager.
- Career change is a great way to find a better work environment. While it may be challenging to improve your current work conditions, researching a different career with a more pleasing work culture can improve your overall quality of life.
Your mind will come up with a hundred reasons why you shouldn’t take this leap into the unknown. But your gut feeling will say jump for it. Because a career change might be the most promising improvement you’ll ever make.
How can you tell that you need a career change
There are many factors that influence people’s decisions about their professional journey. And the uncomfortable effects of these factors are hard to miss. Here are the obvious signs that you need a career change:
1. You’re physically exhausted
Physical exhaustion is one of the telltale signs that you need a career change. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Being extremely worn down is a different story than being tired after a long workday. As a result, some people experience chronic illnesses, like recurring migraines and fatigue because of it.
2. You’re plateauing in your career
A career plateau happens when you’ve reached your highest potential in a field where you’re unable to develop further. This will often make you feel stuck in your career path.
Employees who’ve been working in the same position for a long time often feel like they’ve outgrown their skills. And the only way to advance is through an entire career change.
3. You’re only staying for the money
Most people spend one-third of their lives working a job they don’t really enjoy. That’s a long time to only be staying there just for the money. Understandably, your career puts food on the table. It’s also important to enjoy the work that you’re doing. So if this sign speaks to you, it’s a sign that you need to think about your role.
4. You feel apathetic and complacent
Every time you go to work you constantly feel detached from your objectives for pursuing the role. You find yourself underperforming and not engaging with your work because you’re mentally not present anymore.
But the truth is, this isn’t the normal you since you usually feel excited by a new project or the next team collaboration. So it might be time to rethink this career path.
5. You’re disconnected from your peers
Your peers start to notice a huge difference in your personality as you constantly feel stressed about your work. So you try to fake a smile just to get by. You have less energy and time to spend with your family and friends.
When people closest to you can tell that you need a career change, take their advice seriously. Sometimes you need outside observation to see the bigger picture.
6. You’re daydreaming of a different career
Your job shouldn’t be so dreadful that you daydream about a new career. You spend your breaks browsing job boards, thinking about what your life would be like if you were to quit your job now. And when you’re with your friends, you find it difficult to relate to their career satisfaction.
You think that delivering your two-week notice might be the only way out of your situation. You might well be right. Because sticking with a career that doesn’t bring light to your life, even if you’re good at it, can be draining. So if you can leave your job, do it.
How do you make a career change?
Overnight success doesn’t happen very often. Any thriving venture is the byproduct of hard work until you find the silver lining. However, people stress themselves at the thought of being too old for a successful career change. Still, a handful of professionals can have a career makeover at age 35 and older.
So think of life as a never-ending process of learning. This mindset will motivate you to trust the process of self-discovery and career advancement. Follow these steps to make the move for a better career choice:
1. Take a careful inventory of yourself
A self-inventory can help you decide if you need a career change. So rather than using your time-offs daydreaming about a different work environment, use that time to mindfully reflect on yourself: your strengths, marketable skills, natural talent, and core values. This will make it easier for you to make an informed and impactful career choice.
Knowing your professional history and its impact on your career trajectory is the first step in figuring out what to do after you quit your current job.
Take an aptitude test to see what kind of work you’re best suited for and a personality test to see if you have a strong sense of self. If you find it hard to sit down with your own thoughts, taking these tests might open your eyes to some truths about yourself that you never knew existed.
2. Explore different careers
You don’t have to stick to the same role but with a different company. Explore other career options outside your own. Cast a wide net if possible and don’t pin down your career options yet.
You may start your job search with the most popular or high-paying careers. Some of these professions, like real estate agents and web developers, don’t require you to have an extensive educational background. Then, evaluate each of your choices according to their pros and cons.
3. Research jobs in your desired field
Once you’re done researching and comparing other career avenues, the next step is to choose which one speaks to you the most. This occupation should align with your career goals and personal beliefs.
Consider the type of work environment and company culture of each company you see yourself working in. Is the company a place where you would feel comfortable bringing your whole self every day? Would you be able to live and breathe the company’s values and culture? Or do you see yourself growing and have a work-life balance in this environment?
The best way to guarantee that you can achieve your aspirations in life is to carefully select your career choices. By choosing a career that you are passionate about and that you can grow and learn in, you will be able to achieve your goals and aspirations in life.
4. Identify skill gaps and work on them
After thoroughly researching a new career, spot which skills you need to work on in order to manage skill gaps. This will help you in the hiring process because you need these skills to qualify for the role and increase your competitive advantage.
Performing a skill gap analysis is the first thing you need to do to meet the job requirements. So check job listings and see what they need from their applicants. Then, compare your current job description to your potential new role to gauge any weaknesses or inconsistencies in your abilities.
Here’s an example: Suppose you don’t enjoy working on certain tasks. Or there are responsibilities in the job description that you’re unsure of. It might be a sign that you’re not confident in your skills to do them. You need to write down these skills so you can find the appropriate training to develop them.
5. Rebrand your application credentials
Many career changers find it challenging to rewrite a whole new professional narrative. So to pull off this career change, invest time in rebranding your application credentials to make yourself attractive despite the lack of experience. These are your:
- Cover letter
Rebranding doesn’t stop at your documents. It entails recrafting your professional networking site as these websites can help you expand your network in your new field of interest. So by the time you’re done upgrading your brand identity, you can communicate your story effectively.
6. Network with professionals in your desired field
Your network shouldn’t solely revolve around your present-day industry. People who have a narrow web of connections limit their options should they need a career change.
But trying to build a relationship with people outside your own can feel awkward at first. Still, these people can be beneficial when you decide to change careers.
Your bridging social capital can lessen the stress of career transitions. To expand your network, begin with your inner circle and work your way outwards. Ask people closest to you to recommend people they think are aligned with your path.
7. Shadow professionals in your desired field
Job shadowing is one of the best steps you can take to get a glimpse of what work is like in your desired field. This experience entails observing someone throughout their work day or even work week to get an idea of how they do their job.
By watching these professionals in their work environment, you get to ask questions about their responsibilities while making a good impression in the industry. Again, your network can help you with this career change step.
Search through your professional contact and ask if their company lets people job shadow within their organization or department. If this option doesn’t work, a quick Google search of the company will do the trick.
8. Consider applying for a new job
If you made your decision to change careers, whether it’s in the same industry or not, plan the switch down to a T. But before you quit make sure that you have enough savings because you have more financial responsibilities than when you were younger. Have enough money in your rainy-day fund to support you for at least 3-6 months during the career transition period.
Another way to go about the career change process is to keep your current job until a potential employer successfully hires you. Then you can send in your resignation.
Ease the career change transition
When done right, switching careers can have a positive effect on your life no matter the age. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any growth pains. There will be setbacks and speed bumps along the way. So ease the adjustment phase by following these career change steps to acclimate yourself before you land a new job. The last thing you want to happen is to arrive at a new role with your same old work environment.