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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)
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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.

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    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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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    How to Get Promoted Fast (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Get Promoted Fast (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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    “Attitude is altitude,” a famous adage tells us. When it comes to getting promoted fast, maintaining a can-do attitude conquers all. Keeping up a sunny, pleasant professional demeanor will help you win friends and influence Human Resources managers. So will good work hygiene. Show up early, work late, and volunteer for assignments once yours are completed to the best of your ability.

    Realize, too, that every office newbie wonders how to get promoted fast. So you are always competing against others at the company for that spot above yours. For this reason, it’s not enough to be a whiz at your given tasks. You also need to be likeable—the type of person whom others want to work with and (ultimately) work for.

    Research shows that employees with high emotional intelligence (EI), such as managing relationships, are 75 percent more likely to be promoted than employees with high IQ.[1] Teamwork matters as much as your individual abilities.

    Additionally, these 10 steps will help you succeed faster than you dreamed possible.

    Craft a Plan for How to Get Promoted

    Step 1: Have a Plan

    In this world of fast-disappearing mentors, you need to be the architect of your own plan.

    Ask others in your field what they did to get promoted and how long it took. Map out a general timeline for your own advancement.

    One thing to consider: think of where you want to be five years from now, then work backwards to figure out when you should receive your next promotion.

    Step 2: Commit Your Plan to Paper

    Studies show that writing down one’s dreams and aspirations helps them happen faster.

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    One Saturday when you’re not at the office, take a few hours to capture your plan on paper. Then, separately, pen the tangible steps you believe you need to take to accomplish your dream.

    Perhaps you should aim to get into the office at least a half hour earlier than your direct supervisor each day. Or maybe write, “win one piece of new business per year” as your goal. Do you know someone who could throw your company a piece of new business? Consider reaching out to that person.

    Step 3: Discuss Your Plan with Your Boss or Direct Supervisor

    Performance reviews are a logical time to ask your boss how to get promoted. Bear in mind that any raise you receive may be an indicator of whether you’re perceived to be on the fast track for promotion or on a slower track. (To find out how your raise compares to other workers’ raises, ask around.)

    If you already are on the fast track, just keep doing the excellent work you are doing. If you discover that you are on a slower track, it may make sense to first work out with your boss the steps you need to take to get a hefty raise, and from there, make the case for why you deserve a promotion.

    Get It in Writing

    Step 4: Ask for It in an Email

    Did a client commend your public speaking ability? Did your research report exceed your boss’s expectations? Did your colleague profusely thank you for pitching in over the weekend? In the most gracious way, ask that person to send you an email thanking you and to please copy your boss on it.

    When it comes to discussing a potential promotion with your boss and the powers-that-be, glowing emails really help bolster your case.

    Be sure to bring those emails with you into your performance review meetings. The emails can help you prove you deserve a promotion.

    Step 5: Put Any Interim Managerial Tasks in Writing

    If you are ever asked to fill in for missing supervisor, ask your boss to write an email to the whole team about the process to be followed.

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    This one step will help clear up confusion among your teammates and smooth the way for you to demonstrate your managerial talent. You’ll spend more time managing people and less time trying to manage the process.

    The Casual Check-In

    Step 6: Check In with Your Boss Now and Then

    If you happen to have a boss who gives you a lot of feedback, consider yourself lucky. You will already know how you are doing long before any performance review. You can also use any negative feedback to help you make micro adjustments so that you can bring up your performance before it’s officially rated.

    However, if you happen to have a boss who doesn’t offer up much feedback, make it a habit to casually check in with him or her. Wait until a calm moment, knock on the door or cubicle wall, and ask if he has a minute or two. Then, simply sit down and ask what he thought about your contribution to the latest project. (See Step 7.)

    But take care. The casual check-in should be used sparingly. Do it too often, and your boss may start to consider you a bit paranoid (and then wonder why you are).

    Step 7: Accept All Feedback (Positive and Negative) Gracefully

    When you ask your boss for feedback, you will receive it. And you may not always like what you hear.

    Maybe you thought your two-minute introduction to the new product launch was phenomenal, but your supervisor found it uninspiring.

    Perhaps you thought the client meeting was a smash success, but your client said otherwise after you left the room.

    Those who get promoted fast demonstrate an ability to receive positive feedback gracefully and bounce back from negative feedback equally gracefully. Even if you don’t like what you hear, thank your boss for sharing her feedback and promise her that you will work to improve. Then, draft some action steps you will take to keep your promise.

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    Solve Problems

    Step 8: Remember You’re There to Solve Problems, Not Create Them

    Try to be easygoing and flexible. Strive to receive the plum assignments, but realize that everyone in the firm also wants the better assignments. So, be gracious when you receive a terrible assignment, and just do your best to finish it professionally.

    If you find yourself with a lot of free time, volunteer for extra work, but be judicious about what you volunteer for. It’s important to be perceived as poised and professional, not desperate and clamoring.

    Prove you deserve to be promoted, instead of nagging your associates about how to get promoted.

    Step 9: Work Hard

    Today, business moves at the speed of technology. It’s important to keep up with technology as it evolves. You may need to take additional classes or get additional certifications and digital badges just to stay ahead of change.

    Be the person at your company who embraces change rather than shunning it. Do things the new way, and prove that you love to learn.

    By showing your willingness to change with the times, you’ll prove that you’re an employee who’s worth keeping around.

    Invest your time in learning about the business, your company, and your clients, and your investment may well pay off in a promotion.

    It’s Not Just What You Know

    Step 10: Get Along with Everyone

    Bosses tend to promote those whom they like faster than others on staff—regardless of their talent level.

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    So first and foremost: get along with your boss. But don’t kiss up because that will make your coworkers turn against you.

    Strive to be known for being nice to all, fair to all, and coming up with creative solutions to problems.

    To boost your popularity, try to attend some of the outings, all of the office parties, and as many office showers and office birthday celebrations as you can without sacrificing your work product. Occasionally offer to organize one of these events if you have the time.

    Getting along with everyone is one is a surefire way to get ahead and be promoted faster.

    The Bottom Line

    To get promoted faster, it’s important to understand that ambition coupled with camaraderie wins.

    When your supervisor notices that you take criticism well and learn from mistakes, and that you keep emotions in check and get along well with others, you will earn respect.

    The most important mantra for those who long to get ahead: be professional.

    Solve problems, so that you can be promoted to tackle and solve even bigger problems.

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    Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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