Today’s career experts agree that most people experience a change of career 3 to 7 times throughout their working life. This means a complete transformation—new job, new industry, new employer. It’s a big deal. These are the kinds of changes that cause massive amounts of stress, anxiety and worry. Sure, they can be exciting at the same time. But overall, a change of career is nothing to sneeze at. It takes more planning and preparation than most people realize.
So, if you’re considering a career change, these tips will help you understand what to expect on the long road ahead.
1. Be Patient
When you’re ready for a change, you’re ready. You want it NOW. Only, it doesn’t work like that. Changing your career takes time. You can’t just drop what you’ve been doing and move on to the next thing overnight. It’s a process that can take up to several years. So don’t get in a rush. Enjoy the slow journey toward your goal. Remember that what you’re doing today still has value, even if it’s not ideal. Give yourself the luxury of time.
2. Do Your Research
What skills, education and experience do you need to make this career change? Perhaps you need to go back to school, or take an internship, or look for an interim job that will provide you with the background you need. It’s rare to be given the opportunity to do something completely new without any formal education or experience. It happens, but only for a lucky few.
3. Make a Plan
Map out the steps you will take to get from where you are to where you want to be and commit to a realistic timeframe. Look to your friends and family to help support you and hold you accountable. Or work with a career coach to create a concrete strategy and help keep you on track.
4. Get Involved
Your new career comes with a new community of colleagues. Get to know them. Learn their language. Find out what publications they read and what associations they belong to. Get to know the experts in the field and stay up-to-date on new research and emerging trends. Insert yourself into the world of this new career.
5. Be Willing to Start Over
The truth is that a career change often means you’re going back to square one. It can mean less money, less seniority, fewer benefits, and proving yourself all over again. If you’re not willing to make these kinds of sacrifices, you’ll need to reconsider your decision.
Remember that opportunities will expand as you grow in your new field. And determine what it’s worth to you. If this new career promises a greater sense of fulfillment in the long run, perhaps a little sacrifice is acceptable for now. Only you can make that decision.
Photo Credit: Dirkstoop (Flickr)