5 Key Things to Consider when Changing Careers
There are many reasons why you may want to look for a new job or change careers, but before you make a leap, take a step back.
To help ensure that you will be happy with your decisions going forward, here are five steps to guide you for a more successful change outcome.
- Be clear on what is driving your motives for change
Here are some top reasons why people want to change.
- To be recognised and appreciated
- To make more money
- For more advancement opportunities
- To learn new skills and have more challenges
- For better leadership and an inclusive work culture
- To reduce stress levels and enjoy a flexible work-life balance
Without clarity on why you really need or want to transition, all your ‘going forward’ efforts may not move in the right direction, and you may end up where you started.
- Dig deeper
With more clarity on why you want a change, delve deeper and examine each one closely. Determine if your issues have to do with the control of others, such as your manager, or whether you are the decision maker and in the driver’s seat.
- If you want to advance up the ladder by learning new skills and making more money at your current company, then you need to communicate this desire with your manager.
Are there other opportunities within your company that would interest you? Are there in-house training programs? Will they support outside learning and educational courses? Are there studies and programs you can attend outside work hours at your own expense?
- If your organisation’s culture is not supportive or diverse, you may need to switch companies for a culture that is known to be positive and inclusive.
- If you want a flexible work-life balance that is not being offered right now, then moving to a company that is more accommodating makes sense.
- If you want to totally change careers, do you need to go back to school fulltime or part-time? With each reason why you want change, determine what you personally can do about it, or not. Think through all the options and next steps. This puts the power and control in your hands and makes any decision to move on easier.
3. Examine your personal inventory
Now is also the time to take stock of your skills, abilities, interests, likes, and dislikes. Ask yourself these questions:
- What gives you satisfaction in your job right now, and what makes you frustrated? Is it the actual work itself, the people you interact with, or the culture and environment?
- What am I good at? What do I enjoy? What do I dislike doing? What made me happy when I accomplished something, and why?
- When I was successful, what was I doing? Was it in my current role, a past role, a volunteer position or doing something else?
Change for the sake of change is not a positive move. It’s when you understand the ‘why’ and understand yourself that a transition has the most chance of success.
- Understand your personality and behaviours
To have a better chance at job happiness and success, you need to understand your personality, natural tendencies, and the way you interact with others, and why. There is a strong link between personality, behaviours and job fit. Companies also look for the right fit for the team when they are hiring.
They may need someone who is flexible, decisive, or has a high energy level to quickly pivot from one thing to the next, or someone who is detailed and methodical.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do I like leading or want someone else to take on that role?
- When I communicate, am I assertive, aggressive, calm, rationale, detailed, etc.? How do I come across to others and what is natural for me?
- What motivates me? Do I like working on my own or on a team? Is it important that I make an impact and be recognised? Is financial stability a priority? Do I want more challenges and career advancement opportunities?
- Am I extroverted, withdrawn, friendly, enthusiastic, sociable, or persuasive?
We all have strengths and weaknesses, and different personalities and behaviours. Each job opportunity will require a mix of different personality and behavioural traits for the role itself, and to work effectively within a team.
Assessing your personality and behaviours will open a door of understanding to help ensure you end up in the right job, in the right culture, and on the right team.
- Don’t forget your transferable skills
Don’t forget your important transferable skills to help you land a new opportunity.
Employers often look for people who can demonstrate a good set of transferable or ‘portable’ skills. Here are some examples:
- An excellent team worker
- Great time management skills
- Critical thinker
- Problem solver
- Good listener
- Excellent communication skills, written and spoken
- Terrific with numbers
- Technology wizard
- Good at building relationships
Make sure you identify and give examples of the transferable skills you have developed on your cover letters, in your resumes, and in your meetings with recruiters. This will go a long way to persuading prospective employers that you are the right candidate for the job whether or the role is the same you had before or not.
It can be scary to consider uprooting yourself from a current position or are required to look for a new one. Take a deep breath. Research whether professional organisations and associations are holding networking events or career fairs in your area.
Constantly update your LinkedIn profile to highlight you skills and abilities. Join industry and other associations to meet new people and network. Reach out frequently to friends and former colleagues to find out what positions are available at their companies.
With a firm understanding of who you are and what you have to offer, you can face your fears and create a strategy for making yourself happier.