Making the decision to change careers is definitely a stressful process. Changes are made for many different reasons; job dissatisfaction, economy fluctuations, income, and lack of advancement are all incentives to make career changes. Once the decision has been made, measures should be taken to make the transition a smooth, lucrative and rewarding experience. Below are five points to consider before ever leaving your current job. Proper assessment of each point will help you facilitate an enjoyable transition.
THOROUGH CAREER CHANGE EVALUATION – Search inward and outward to find the reasons for the desire to change careers. Some decisions are made easily and for very practical and clear reasons. Those still unsure should search to understand why they want to change careers. What are they trying to leave behind and what are they looking for? Are you looking for changes in your industry, field, position or all three?
Determine if this new career choice is the right job and fit for you before you give notice? Have you looked into requirements for the position, the growth potential, or what skills you will be regularly using? Have you anticipated how the career change will affect your family and personal life? Realistic understanding of your new career will help to ensure satisfaction of the job once you have obtained it. After evaluating your options and deciding that a career change is the right decision – you can be confident in moving forward and giving full attention to your new career search.
DOCUMENTATION PREPARATION – Before giving notice and jumping into your new career, get all your ducks in a row. This includes all career documents beginning with your resume, cover letter, thank you letter and reference list. Your new documents should showcase your transferable skills relevant to your new career choice. Your cover letter should also include transferable skills and provide examples of how you can contribute to a new company. All documents should emphasize the skills and accomplishments applicable to your new career.
References can be a deal maker or breaker and are something valuable to invest time in. Always ask permission before including anyone on your reference sheet. Provide an outline if possible for what should and should not be included in the reference. Groom your contacts by providing skill sets, accomplishments and examples that would be appropriate affirmations for the desired position.
PRACTICAL PLANNING – What will it take to be successful in your new career? It is crucial you are aware and prepared for what is expected of you. Do you need to become certified in something, complete a degree, or pursue a masters program? Talk with others in the position and build your network in your new field. Find out the pitfalls to be aware of and discover the best ways to get noticed and ahead.
DEVELOP A STRATEGY FOR YOUR JOB SEARCH – A career change within the same industry can be used to your advantage. You already have an in-depth understanding of the industry and this can be an added value highlighted on your resume, cover letter and during interviews. Existing contacts within the industry can and should be relied upon for networking. The majority of jobs found (some say as high as 80%) involve some form of networking. Networking within the same industry may be a bit tricky if you don’t want your current employer to know you are searching for a new position.
Careers sought outside of your current industry will take a little more work for network development, however joining associations, utilizing LinkedIn and other online networking sites can help. Having a flexible time frame is optimal because you would then be able to select the best fitting job instead of feeling pressure to take the first job that meets most of your requirements.
DON’T BURN BRIDGES WHEN LEAVING YOUR CURRENT JOB – Make every attempt to leave your current position on a positive note. A helpful reference will be much easier to acquire from a boss, department head or coworker that enjoyed working with you and respected your work. Depending on your new career you may easily be back in contact with your old employer or former company. You may even be able to find contacts for your new career through someone at your current employment.