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Last Updated on December 1, 2020

How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide)

How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret your career decisions? Do you feel content getting out of bed and thinking about the day of work ahead? If the answers to these questions lead to a negative feeling, it may be time to consider a career change.

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can redirect the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know If You Need a Career Change

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. This can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain, and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire for true happiness. Here are some common signs that it is time for you to become a career changers and seek out your dream job.

Physical Signs

Have you aged more since you started your job? Do you have day-to-day anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a paycheck, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best in you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that your colleagues or boss takes advantage of your kindness, feeling anxiety due to the fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • Neck tension
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel that your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life, such as friends and family.

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Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career change are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

It is important to think about the work situation because some people decide to change careers for factors that are insignificant—factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here are some elements to consider before you decide to make a career change:

1. The Desire for a Higher Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe that they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one expects. Instead of leaving your current position to look for a higher-paying one, you can talk with your boss to see if there is any possibility of a raise—now or in a couple of years.

2. A High-Stress Moment

While long-term stress is unhealthy and should ultimately be avoided in order to preserve your health, moments of stress at a job are natural. For example, you may be working on a big presentation for a new client; this will inevitably lead to some stress, but the reward may be worth it.

Make sure you think carefully before leaving a job during a temporary moment of high stress.

3. Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds like a lengthy process, but, at times, a promotion requires time. Try not to jump the gun and change careers just because you got rejected for a promotion once[2]. Consider giving it time; the situation may change in a year or two.

4. Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a repetitive job, it is normal to feel bored.

You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work, or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of perspective.

A career change can take time; networking, education, and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

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  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem, or revive the excitement for one’s work.You may be ready for a career change if you experience one or all of these:

A Negative Workplace

If negativity greets you at the door each time you arrive to work, moving to a new business or organization may be the right decision in order to preserve your mental health.

A Difficult Boss

You likely won’t get along with your boss 100% of the time, but they should, at the very least, be respectful of you and your time. If that’s not the case, address the issue directly with them. If that doesn’t work, it may be time for a career change.

Feeling Lost

Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in new activities, remember that life is short, and mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step-by-step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a deadline for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking, or improving issues at work, among other career goals.[3] A career plan should be kept in sight because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest to you. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used for a variety of roles or career paths.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds as a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

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A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[4]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Will you need to move for a new position? Are you willing to relocate?
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition, achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work, or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars, or self-study are all options.

Complete a SWOT analysis before a career change

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about your desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or for extra benefits to make up for the difference.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials, or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve-wracking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, there are other roles that will make you happy. You may need to take small steps as you switch careers in order to get into the position you really want.

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    7. Volunteer First

    A person who wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget, and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague, or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance.

    Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    Online Search

    Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching for images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.

    Prepare Your LinkedIn

    Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.

    Portfolio

    A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design, and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.

    Cover Letter

    A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover a role in a career field that is the best fit for your skillset.

    Master these action steps to complete a career change on your terms, so you can make the best decision for your future.

    More About Changing Careers

    Featured photo credit: Bethany Legg via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Makeda Waterman

    An experienced online media journalist blogs about work and career development.

    How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide)

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    Published on March 24, 2021

    8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

    8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

    In the U.S., workers on average spend 90,000 hours of their lives working.[1] This means that it is likely you will spend more time working than with your spouse or partner. For this reason, it is especially important to love your job. When you are in a job you love, it feels custom-made just for you. You feel your values reflected in the company’s mission. You feel rewarded just for working there — “Thank God it’s Monday,” you think each week, and the paycheck is nice, too.

    Here are 8 steps for finding the career that fits your personality like a glove.

    1. Look At Yourself Carefully

    Firstly, Look Inside

    Some diagnostic tests help you assess who you are and what jobs make a good fit. Among free assessments you can take, the Myers-Briggs personality test is among the most popular for gauging how you perceive the world and make decisions. It consists of some 90 either-or questions that indicate whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, and what influences perceptions.

    Knowing yourself and the qualities associated with your personality type can help you decide whether you would be more comfortable in a front- or back-office setting, are more of an “ideas” or “execution” person, or prefer an open office or a quiet, enclosed setting to do your best work.

    Career Explorer is another diagnostic careers tool, and offers a free Career Test to reveal how your interests and goals match up against some 1,000 careers. The test asks your general interest in a handful of random careers, along with your career satisfaction in previous jobs, and predicts career matches that fit your profile.

    Then, Look Outside

    Your friends and family members often know you better than you know yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “What kind of career do you see me in?” or “How can I find a career that’s right for me? and pay attention to their answers.

    Also, think back to talents you enjoyed in your younger years, particularly those that elicited comments from others along the lines of “You’re going to make a great ___________ some day.” Others often see special abilities in you that you may have overlooked.

    2. Write Lists

    The perfect career awaits you if you do your homework. Keep careful lists of the qualities you possess and which types of businesses will reward those qualities.[2]

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    Similarly, when your friends have ideas for you, write them down. You want to be able to go back and reflect on different career paths.

    Putting pen to paper — or fingers to keyboards — and allowing yourself to follow ideas where they lead is a valuable step for finding the career that is right for you.

    What elements of past or current jobs and experiences stick out as the most enjoyable? List them. Think of careers where you could recapture some of those elements.

    Write down the activities where you find real joy. Do you love decorating or rearranging your living room? Could this translate to fulfilling work in interior design or merchandising? Or do you find children endlessly entertaining? Perhaps you would find teaching or youth development a rewarding career path.

    Generate a list of ideas, no matter how eccentric they may seem, and see if any patterns emerge.

    Write a Master List of All Your Strengths and All Your Weaknesses

    Be as specific as possible. If you hate waking up before 11 a.m., it is going to be hard to hold down a 9 to 5 job (unless you can work remotely in another part of the country with a different time zone). If you love talking to people, maybe the back office of a research department is too isolating for you.

    Are you high energy or laid back? Do your strengths or weaknesses tend to make you a natural leader or more of a maverick? Own your particular personality strengths and quirks, and think about the various work environments where you could make the most of them. Do you like receiving direction or chafe when someone gives you feedback?

    3. Set up 15-Minute Informational Interviews

    All of this introspection will help you narrow your search criteria, but then it must lead to action. Ask around to see if there is anyone you know who would spare a few minutes to discuss her field with you. It could be a friend or a friend-of-a-friend or even one of your parents’ friends. You may be surprised to find that people often want to offer advice on the steps to take to start out in their field.

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    Prepare some questions in advance, for example: ask how the person ended up in her field, what best prepared her for her career, which aspects she most enjoys, and how the field is changing.

    Depending on how forthcoming the person is, you might also ask if she would mind if you sent a resume to keep on file in case of any future openings.

    4. Read Job Postings

    Before you apply for a job, start reading job postings in the two or three fields that excite you. You can find postings on LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Simply Hired. Do you feel goosebumps zipping down your spine when you read about certain jobs? It could be an indication that this is the job of your dreams.

    Familiarize yourself with job descriptions to learn common industry terms, roles, and in-demand skills. Glassdoor, for example, gives you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work for a given company — but keep an open mind, too, knowing that former employees with a grudge are usually the most motivated to post reviews.

    5. Write Your Resume

    Your resume should reflect the skills you possess and the specific skills sought in a job. But be sure to customize and change your resume appropriately for each position you pursue. Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, companies will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

    Research the organization that you are targeting and try to work in examples that have relevance to their customers or clients, or to issues taking place industry-wide. State how you can add value by quantifying results you achieved in former jobs or even volunteer activities. For example, “coordinated silent auctions for children’s advocacy organizations that brought in $29,000.”

    Ideally, you will want to concisely recount your skills to make a riveting impression as a professional ideally suited for the position.

    Check out these 10 Killer Resume Tips to Nail Your Dream Job.

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    6. Watch a Movie or Two That Features a Character Working in the Field

    While movies tend to exaggerate, you may see something that either confirms that you belong in that environment or scares you away from it. Career conflicts are a genre in themselves — you can find most any job represented in some form on the big screen.

    The character played by Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada,” who successfully navigated her nightmare boss played by Meryl Streep, showed the ups and downs of working on a fashion magazine. Meanwhile, “Legally Blonde” likely inspired a whole horde of young women to enter careers in law.

    7. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

    When it comes to job-hunting, the biggest risk is not taking a risk. Write a cover letter that truly reflects your own personality. Remember that you need to stand out, not just blend in to the hundreds of “blah-blah-blah” letters.

    So, if you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, adopt a more measured tone. If you’re intellectual, use bigger words. Be you, not what you think you should be. When you’re authentic, it improves the likelihood that the career you find will be the right fit for you.

    Think of ways to show passion for the career path you are pursuing — and then make the case for why it is the right fit for you. Hiring managers look for candidates with dynamism behind their desire to work for the company. Choose words that reveal that you are passionate, not passive: instead of “helpful,” your findings were “game-changing.” Instead of “useful,” your discoveries proved “transformational.”

    Here’s How to Write A Cover Letter That Stands out from 500 Applicants.

    8. Thank Everyone Who Helped You — and Especially Everyone Who Interviewed You

    The gracious job-hunter lands a job faster. Even if you don’t snag a job the first time around, when you remember to thank the people who granted you an interview, those people will remember you and think of you for other opportunities. Thanks should also go to those who provided you with a recommendation or who took time with you for an informational interview.

    While it may seem old school or downright quaint, a handwritten thank-you card still carries cachet. It shows that you took time to be appreciative. Or, if you send a note electronically, sincerely show gratitude and help the person remember you by bringing up something he said that you found helpful or insightful.

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    A thank you to one person should not be able to be swapped with a communiqué to any other person who helped you in your search.

    You Are on a Campaign to Land a Job until You Land the Job

    You will likely have to meet several people in a company. Inevitably, those people will talk to each other. Make sure the emails that you write them are different from each other instead of canned notes with different names attached. Take a look at these tips on how to write a thank-you email.

    Show unwavering cordiality and professionalism to everyone whom you encounter in the company. Even if you come across the receptionist entering the restroom at the same time as you, politely hold the door. Your good impression will travel throughout the office network.

    Bonus: Return the Favor When You’ve Landed Your Job

    Congratulations! You finally landed! Now it’s time to pay it forward.

    Remember all those who helped you follow the key steps to your sought-after career, and never pass up an opportunity to help others land jobs they love.

    Returning the favor will make you even more appreciative of having found the right career for you. And, when you look for your next job, you will find that you’ve built a network of helpful people on whom you can rely.

    More Job Hunting Tips

    Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

    Reference

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