Taking a U-Turn in Your Career

5 minute

Have you ever considered changing your job? I believe the majority of people would say "Yes." Many people I know look for other jobs while they are working. This could be because they are under-employed, want a similar job with better pay, want a job higher up the ladder, or are simply bored with their current position and need a change.

Have you ever considered a major career change? By major career change, I mean either a U-Turn or completely starting over and reinventing yourself.

Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past, doing so was not such a big deal. The markets were doing well. Finding work, even if it was only part-time at minimum wage, was not a difficult task. Keeping you and your family afloat while trying to figure out your next move wasn't as stressful. The situation is vastly different now. If you have a job, you are more likely to keep it, no matter how much you dislike it. It is easier to find a new job in some parts of the world. There are other parts of the world where one feels trapped, perhaps even shackled, in their current job. There are only a few options. Changing the rules of the game could be disastrous.

But what if you were so stuck that you couldn't breathe, having panic attacks whenever a work-related e-mail arrived in your inbox or your boss wanted to speak with you? What if you woke up in the middle of the night with nightmares about your current situation and no way to escape work-related thoughts? What if the situation was beginning to have a negative impact on your physical and mental health?

Why is changing a job a good idea?

Even if you are dissatisfied with your current job, it can be easy to find reasons to stay. That sense of safety and comfort can be enslaving. Unfortunately, comfort can come at the expense of development.

Changing careers is beneficial to your professional life in the long run because:

You learn your market value  

When you look for a new job, you realise the value of your skills and career. This is beneficial in fueling your desire to either earn more or learn more. While looking for new job opportunities, it's also a good idea to look for ways to learn new skills.

You connect with new people

The more people you interact with within your career, the more opportunities you will have to gain new perspectives. Having new ideas and concepts around you can be a fantastic way to learn new skills.

You become a personal-brand expert

When you go to a job interview, you dress neatly and professionally. Similarly, when you go job hunting, you want to show off your skills. This process enables you to see what the market wants and demonstrates how to create an excellent personal brand.

Tips to change your career successfully

Consider educational resources and develop new skills

If you’re employed, find opportunities at your current job to gain the skills you need to make a career change. For example, a marketer who wants to move into finance may ask for control over the marketing budget to gain skills regarding working with ledgers. Seizing opportunities like this is helpful, but only if you remember to apply those newly gained skills to your resume and cover letter.

If you're already working, look for opportunities to learn the skills you'll need for a career change. For example, a marketer who wants to move into finance may request control over the marketing budget in order to learn how to work with ledgers. Taking advantage of opportunities like this is beneficial, but only if you remember to incorporate your newly acquired skills into your resume and cover letter.

Research potential job matches

With your career change narrowed down to a few potential job types, you can begin more in-depth research. Conducting informational interviews with people in a field of interest is one way to learn more about it. Speak with people you already know or look into your college's alumni association.

Ask the big questions 

You will almost certainly be speaking with prospective employers as you look for a new job. It is critical that you find out what you need to know before agreeing to change jobs. Make sure you go in with the right answers in order to be the perfect interviewee, but also with pressing questions in order to get a sense of what is expected.

Make an action plan

Creating an action plan entails defining a clear goal as well as milestones to achieve it. By this point, you should have completed all of your research and be able to narrow down your career change to a specific occupation. It's time to think about what it'll take to get there.

Consider education and certification, skill development, attending networking events, and taking advantage of opportunities to practise within a specific industry or field. Make a list of the steps you intend to take and a timetable for completion.

Volunteer or freelance in the field

If you are unsure about which path to take next, you do not need to make a decision without first gaining some experience. Before you apply, look for opportunities to do some volunteer or freelance work to test your interests. If no opportunities are available, see if you can find someone in the industry with whom you can speak before diving in. Someone in the field will be able to tell you about their experiences, both positive and negative, which will help you decide whether you like the sound of it or not.

Take a personal inventory

Begin keeping a journal. Consider your reactions to your current job and how they influence your job satisfaction. Make a list of recurring themes, significant events, and how they make you feel. Pose difficult questions to yourself, such as, "What is it about my job that I like or dislike?" Respond to them, then read your responses. You'll start to get a sense of what job satisfaction looks like for you based on your own notes.

During this time, you should also take a personal inventory of your skills, values, and interests that are relevant to the work you enjoy. Consider times when you were successful and consider what you were doing — whether it was a job, a volunteer situation, an internship, or something else.

Determine what skills have played a significant role in your success and how they can further be applied to different roles you may have an interest in.

Challenge yourself

Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment that comes from pushing yourself.

"I'm not sure if I can do this," strange as it may sound, is not a bad thing to think because the pride you feel when you can is unparalleled. Just keep in mind that pushing yourself comes with the risk of failure. That's also fine. Because it means you're closer to success now than you were when you started.

Consider using a spreadsheet to log milestones as you progress toward a full career change to keep yourself motivated in your career-change plan. Changing careers can be time-consuming. Tracking your progress allows you to recognise all of the small victories along the way, which can give you a greater sense of accomplishment as you successfully make the switch.


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