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Published On: Wed, Nov 15th, 2017

Seven Tips to Switching Careers

Are you considering a career change? If you are, you are not alone. Most Americans switch careers three times in their lives. But changing careers is scary and the process can be very debilitating. The choice of a company, analysis and consideration of all proposals is not an easy task. However, making a career change is possible and much more common than you might think. First you should recognize that this is an important decision that needs sufficient time and thought. Here are seven steps to help you on your way.

photo/ Robin Higgins via Pixabay

First. What you understand from your current situation.

In a career switch, the first thing you should do is to learn from your current situation. To do this, take a step back and think about what you do for a living now and why you do it. Examine the reasons that keep you in your current job or career. Did you decide yourself to go to school? Was it what you did because your parents wanted it? Was it the “hot career” at some point? Did you just “fall into it”? Do you like it? Did you do it for money? Was it just to pay the bills? The answers to these questions may provide you with valuable information about the underlying reasons of what you want or need.

Now let’s examine why you want to leave your current job environment. Remove the business or related management policies that are specific to your current employer. Do you see your situation for what it is and ask yourself why you want to leave? Have you been forced by changes of market trends in business? Are you exhausted? Do you want to earn more money? Are you satisfied to do what you do? Have you done your best but found that your career is “just not a good fit?” Have you decided it’s time to pursue a career you dreamt about for a long time?

Analysis of the current situation and the reasons for wanting to change careers is the basis for the next step.

Second. A look inside.

Whether you already have a career in mind or you are looking for a new career, you need to look within. To make the most of your thinking, it is essential to start with a clean slate. Consider each idea (real or imagined) and a salary certain careers can provide. Discard the stereotypes or judgments of occupations. Get away from all wrong preconceived ideas.

Now seriously think about what you really want. First, start with the obvious. Look at your hobbies and interests. List the things you are passionate about, or where you have talent. Give yourself credit for the things you are good at and do not be afraid to write down the things you love, but are not good at yet. Include them all in a list, even if you think they may not be suitable for a professional career. You’re just brainstorming at this point and you should not remove anything right away. And it is important to note that you may have more interests than you think. In order to get a good look at your interests, consider the simple things. What types of reports perk up your interest? What kinds of TV shows do you like? What kinds of magazines and books are you attracted to? What kind of people you find interesting? What parts of your current career has brought you the greatest satisfaction?

Then, remember what you wanted to do when you was growing up. Is there something you always wanted to be? Do you always feel fascinated when you think about it? This can give you some real evidence. And of course, depending on what you wanted to be, this dream of your young age may be out of reach. But is it really so? Think about it. If your ideal career choice at age 10 was to be an astronaut, and now you are physically unfit or of the retirement age or are not in a position, you can exclude it. But what about other occupations related to astronomy or astronauts? There is a wide range of occupations that are related to the teaching of astronomy, telescopes, marketing, writing for a scientific journal, making working models or construction sets for movies, working in a museum or exhibitions! If you look at your passion using a little imagination, the sky (or should I say the space) is the limit.

Finally, what kind of person are you looking for? Be honest with yourself. Do you love manual work?  Do you like to work alone? Do you love participating in social work? Do you enjoy working in a team? Do you work at night? These are all examples of questions that will lead to understanding whether a particular career is right for you.

As you go through this exercise of looking inside yourself, it is important not to overload your mind or the list you make with the sentences containing “but”. If your answer to the question “Do you like working with your hands” was “yes”, it is an affirmative answer. Do not include the answers like “Yes, but I’m clumsy” or “Yes, but these jobs are not too well-paid.” Let your mind open and you will be pleasantly surprised by the ease with which you find answers.

photo/ Robin Higgins via Pixabay

Third. Discover what exists.

Now that you are armed with a list of your personal interests and talents, think of them for a few days. Find what can be used in your list. You may end up with some additional ideas during that period or strike off a few of them.

Start the next step by checking what is actually available (not what you perceive to be there, but what is really there). Get to your local community college catalog and scroll both the credit and continuing education courses, as well as writing dissertation. Look online for education or career. Make a list of the careers of your friends and family. On your next trip to work or the store, turn off the radio, looking around and at the buildings and businesses around you. Look at the people you see outside and start discovering what their lives are like.

The purpose of this exercise is to compare what is out there with what interests you. Keep up with the example of astronomy. If you are interested in astronomy, so what? Well … Now you have looked in the local community college catalog and seen there a training course in astronomy. You now have something concrete, a class that you take, which allows you to find your interest to pursue. But what a continuing education course will offer you? A number of things. First, meeting other people who share your interest. They all shall bring more information on the table. You can join useful groups or clubs. Or maybe these people have friends or relatives looking for someone to do a job or to share their wealth of knowledge with. Second, you have the opportunity to pursue your interest … or be able to decide on your career. You can learn that you really love astronomy and want to go further. On the other hand, you can learn that it’s not really what people thought it was and you really do not care enough to pursue a career. No matter what you decide, you’ll learn something about yourself and at least meet other people who share your interests.

Let’s try another example. Maybe on the way to work you notice a road construction worker.  On the first day you can see that you are in a smothering suit, but he wears comfortable jeans and jokes with a colleague, as he shovels asphalt under sunny skies. You think to yourself: “Boy, it would be nice to attempt to work out a sweat for once … Maybe I would do that …!” The next day, you see how a driver leans out of his window and insults him. “Hmmm,” you think. On the third day you see that it’s raining and cold and the worker must do his job while you warm and dry in your car. “Cross that one from the list,” you think. If you had only seen the man on the first day, you have seen a good day. If you had noticed on the last day, you would have seen the worst. Anyway, without really opening your eyes to full-time, you can create a fragmented sense of what it means to be this or that. The point here is not looking for things clearly positive or negative in a particular profession, but starting to see it as a whole. With this information you will be able to judge whether a particular activity might be a way for you to make.

In addition to the conscious exploration of specific jobs, talking to friends and family is an invaluable way of charging. If you share your interests and ideas in conversations and e-mails, you will probably hear a lot of “Oh, the son of Susan teaches astronomy at the university, he wrote a book about the Hubble telescope this year.” Or, “Oh, John has built a house and he loves it!” Talking to other people, you can connect or to better understand the experiences and opinions of people in relation to your interests. It will also provide other ideas for you. Maybe combining a love of writing with a passion for astronomy never occurred to you, until you spoke to your cousin.

4th. Do your homework.

So look into it. You have come up with many interests and have taken steps to explore what’s out there. At the moment you have come up with a couple of things you enjoy doing or that you have decided you want to track. Now it is time to get down to work. It is time that really should be used to deepen your experience in a particular occupational field. To reach this part of the trip, you need to do serious research.

Your search is made of homework researching the specific ways to do your job. For most careers, you have to engage in some kind of structured learning path. Examples include things like sponsored vocational training programs, degrees, certification programs, job titles, work placements or apprenticeships. Even if your career does not require training or education, you will probably want to invest your time and you need to know what and how much time you will realistically be expected to develop.

So what you should do? Suppose you have decided you want to seriously explore a job of pharmacist. Wonderful! What can you do to become a pharmacist? At the beginning, ask your friends and family, if anyone knows a pharmacist you can talk to. Talk to a pharmacist from your neighborhood, learn where they went to school and ask for their professional titles, education or training that can be taken. If you’re brave, ask them what kind of reward pharmacists can expect to earn. Also pick up this college course catalog and again check the program for pharmacology. Check out the requirements and note how long the program takes and what is the fee for the courses. Read the course description. Are they of interest to you or make you bored? A perfect complement to all your research is the Internet. There are many discussion groups, blogs, forums and professional association websites. Each of these sources can give you a valuable insight at what it means and what it takes to get this employment.

For each course you want, you should know the following:

  • What are the requirements for training?
  • Does the job require any certification?
  • Are there necessary skills?
  • Is it necessary to travel?
  • How much money can you make?
  • In which country people have a more successful career in this field? Have better insurance? Make more money?
  • Do you know which steps to make?
  • Do you need regular, ongoing training?
  • Do you know if you want to have your own business or work for another company?
  • Are there annual fees? (Renewal of license, for example, union dues, membership in an organization, equipment, etc.)
  • How many hours a week do you usually work?
  • Are there any age limits or cut-offs?
  • How much does it cost you to operate profitably in the field?
  • How long will it take until you are gainfully used in the field?

The answers to these questions will help you further narrow down your career choices and stand firmly on the ground.

5th. Do the financial audit.

Good. You did it! The answers helped you to come up with one or more tracks that you would like to run. You are now heavily armed with the knowledge of what it takes to get you where you want to go! But like everything in life, it will cost you something. Now you must add a list of all costs, and compare with what you are able to pay. There is no doubt that whatever you achieve in the situation, depends on your financial situation. It may take longer than you have expected or you can do it at the expense of some other things in your life, but you can still reach your goal if you set your mind to approach it and do it methodically. This may mean you have to use your research skills and new economic opportunities such as grants, scholarships, payment plans, loans or 401K etc. You may even be able to pay for training or experience with a skill that you currently possess through an internship or work you can do.

If you reach the financial balance, you can make us of it. Perhaps your goals are not financially feasible at this moment. Perhaps you have just had a baby, your youngest son, or you have just paid an absorbent amount of money to repair your car. It does not matter. Rejoice in the fact that you came all the way. You can make a plan and save or start applying for aid or other means. You can even start doing what is free or cheap, you can find books to read or prepare for university studies. Most people do not have the luxury to give up their jobs when they change careers, so chances are high that you will live a “double life” as you prepare for the change. Whatever you do, do not break the bank, because inevitably you’ll be right where you started.

6th. Check your calendar.

Great! They have everything under control. You know where you are, how to get there and how you pay for it. But you can not afford the time? Do you have enough free time and flexibility to meet the educational requirements? You are young or old, are to meet in the age professionals? If you have time and age, skip this step. If not, the last leg of your trip to your calendar mix!

Mixing your calendar can be easy. You can immediately eliminate or postpone what to know in order to make room for your new career. Conversely, the time found it quite complicated. Perhaps you have small children, maybe you have a sick parent, maybe you have obligations or church congregation … none of these things it would work towards a new career as a hard battle. Again, this may mean you have the postpone starting your career for a while. Or it could mean you need to start your informal education through books or online courses when you have time. Whatever your challenge, do not lose hope! Believe in yourself and have a perseverance to get where you want to go.

7th. Start your journey.

You have reached the last step. It’s time to jump into the water! The time to register for this first class, accept this internship, or apply for entry-level or part-time work in a respective field. Everything that you have found to be the first step in your career, a new joy in the fact that you too have gone a long way and do it! They have a lot of hard work, careful, and be proud of many things. Start this walk with your chin up and shoulders back!

So go now … out of here! Your train departs and you better be on it! Remember not to take but a few pictures on the way to stop and smell the flowers, to buy some souvenirs, and by all means, do not forget where you came from!

Author: Beatrice Howell

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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