Artwork by: Anastasia Kraynyuk
If you are thinking about making a change in your career, congratulations. Career transition can be exciting and challenging. What do you need to consider, and how do you go about it? This article will help you come up with a structured approach to your career transition.
When you are unhappy in your career, life is no fun. We spend much of our lives developing our careers. Having the right career allows you to find fulfillment and happiness. Job satisfaction benefits you both professionally and personally. But if you are in the wrong career, making a change is a huge decision. You have to take it seriously.
This article will outline some steps for you to follow to figure out if a career transition is right for you, and, if so, how should you go about making that happen. Here’s a list of the points we will cover:
Figuring out where are you in your career
Determining where you want to go in your career
Exploring your options
Choosing a direction and making a plan
Executing your plan
Considering making a career change? You are not alone.
Job satisfaction is on the decline.
Over 47.4 million workers quit their jobs in 2021
Only 70% of employees intend to be with their current organization in 12 months
Only 66% of people surveyed are satisfied with their current jobs
72% of employers say stress and/or burnout are a challenge for their organization
Younger workers feel that having an unfulfilling job is a top source of stress
There are many different reasons that people decide to make a career change. Life changes often cause many professionals to become disillusioned and no longer feel fulfilled in their careers. For others, it may be a lack of growth or work-life balance in their current position. Personal or family reasons can also lead to a need for change. The recent pandemic and the Great Resignation have led many people to look for more meaningful opportunities.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, then it may be time to reevaluate your career path. You should assess where you are in your current career and what stage of life you are in. What has changed or what would you like to change?
Some questions to help you determine your scenario:
Do you often hate going to work and wish you could do anything else?
How satisfied are you in your current role? Do you enjoy the daily work, but see no room for advancement?
Do your current values align with your company and your current job? Are you needing more creativity and the ability to freely express yourself?
Why are you considering a change? Do you want new challenges and opportunities? Or do you want to follow your passions? Are you seeking more flexibility?
Have you become lackadaisical about your tasks? Do you procrastinate or feel unmotivated?
Are you having issues with your personal and family relationships? Do you frequently get irritated with coworkers or your boss? Are you complaining all the time?
Take the time to think about these questions and answer them honestly. Be specific and highlight the positives and negatives about your current job and career path. If the negative aspects of your current situation far outweigh the positives, then it may be time for a change.
What makes you happy? What do you love to do? You need to determine what type of job and career will give you fulfillment. Examine your answers about your current job and figure out what type of job would reverse the negatives. Consider your work environment and how that would look in a perfect world for you. Think about the company culture and what would be the best fit for you.
As an exercise, imagine what your ideal day at work would look like. What would you do? Who would you work with? Where would it be? Putting all of these things together should give you a very good picture of what your perfect job should be. If it is sitting on the beach and drinking margaritas all day, then you might want to think about retiring! Keep it realistic. You also have to consider economics and the availability of the type of job you are thinking of.
Now that you have an idea of what your ideal scenario would be, you need to zero in on some more tactical details. Here’s another set of questions to aid you with filling in those details:
What kind of company would you like to work for (size, culture, values, products, and services)?
Your work would involve what tasks, projects, and initiatives?
What would the working environment include in terms of flexibility and work-life balance?
What opportunities for career advancement would it include?
How would this career support your lifestyle?
Do you have transferable skills for this new career?
What are your salary goals?
With your goals and job description outlined, you can move on to finding an actual career that will meet all your objectives.
Based on your assessments and soul-searching, pick a few potential careers that are a good match for your interests and ideal career path. Research those careers and determine if they will meet your financial and future growth needs. Choosing an industry or company that is in decline does not work well for a long-term plan.
There are many online resources and career development sites that you can look at. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to get high-level information on industries and jobs. Once you are satisfied that your choices are viable go-forward selections, you can begin to dig a little deeper. Search job listings and find some that match your objectives.
You’re not quite ready to apply for jobs just yet. With a specific industry, companies, and job listings in hand, start talking to people about the opportunities and what it takes to be in those roles. Use your contacts and go to some networking events related to that industry or job. Get as much first-hand information as you can from people that actually work in those jobs.
All the information you have gathered to this point will enable you to develop a plan to guide you forward. This plan will map out your new career development. Here are some basic things to include in your plan:
Target date for your career transition.
Training, certifications, licensing, or degree programs you need to complete.
Scheduling changes you need to make to accommodate your career transition efforts.
Find a mentor that can help guide you through your career transition. Someone that is in your target industry and role.
Find volunteer or job shadowing opportunities to gain experience.
Update your resume to reflect your new skills and qualifications.
Prepare for interviews.
Filling in all the above will give you a good idea of your timeline and will determine your final transition time. Now you just need to execute your plan.
Commit to your plan. Any career transition requires dedication and hard work. Anything less than 100% commitment will lead to failure. Stick to your schedule. Make sure you have time allotted each week (or even each day) to work on your career transition steps. This is especially important if you need to acquire a lot of new skills and training.
Plans can change. It’s okay if your plans change. This happens with almost any significant effort. Just make sure you adjust your plans accordingly and set realistic goals. Document your plans, progress, and any changes. Use your mentor as both a sounding board and as someone to help keep you accountable for staying on track.
Career transition is not easy. You will encounter challenges. Things happen in life that can change your plans. This should be expected and planned for! Build slack into your schedule for unexpected things coming up that could delay your progress. The key is to identify obstacles quickly and put steps in place to overcome them. Don’t get discouraged.
Update your career info. Once you have made some significant progress in your preparations for that new career, it is time to get your marketing materials updated. Revise your resume to include any new skills, certifications, training, and education you have gained. Update your career objectives. Go online and update any professional profiles you may have (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
Find a job. Now you are ready to wade into the job search. This is a whole topic unto itself, but you know what you want, and that is a solid start. Use all your resources and networking to go after the role you want.
Career transition takes time. The bigger the change, the longer it will probably take. Don’t get impatient or overwhelmed. Your hard work and planning will pay off. Lastly, don’t forget to spend time on yourself. Changing careers can be very stressful. You need to spend time with yourself, and with your family and friends. Relax and breathe. Life is short, enjoy it!
Career transition is hard. Decide whether a career change is really right for you.
Determine what career will make you the happiest.
Research all your options and choose the best one for you.
Once you decide to change your career, develop a plan and follow it.
Don’t get discouraged. Stick to your plan and follow through.
Garland is a writer and technology consultant that lives in far west Texas, USA. He is semi-retired from a successful 25-year career in the Information Technology industry, and now spends his time writing for various websites (mostly career development related). Garland holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, and a master’s degree in Economics and Computer Information Systems.