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Home  > Article

Look Before You Leap

By Laura Sweeney

The decision to change careers is a difficult one, but a career change can be rewarding if you make honest decisions and take the right steps.

Get to the bottom of your current situation, that way you'll avoid making the same mistakes twice.
Q: You're burnt-out. You're looking for "purpose." You want a better quality of life. You're bored. You're disillusioned by your profession. What are you?

A: You're what we call a career changer. You don't just want a new job, you want an entirely different job in a whole new field.

The decision to change careers is a difficult one and the transition can be tough. We don't suggest you undertake it lightly. But a career change also can be rewarding if you make honest decisions and take the right steps. We enlisted some help from Stephen Warren, author of The Purpose Principle, for advice on how to make a career change.

Avoid past blunders
Get to the bottom of your current situation, that way you'll avoid making the same mistakes twice. What's making you feel this way? Specifically determine what is wrong with your current career situation. Are you bored? Do you dislike your boss? Do you need a vacation? Is money the issue?

Change starts with you
Sit yourself down for a serious discussion. Assess your skills, your passions, your goals, and-most importantly-what you want out of a career. To make a switch for the better, you must be honest in your self-evaluation.

Identify options
Based on what you don't like about your career to date, what your interests are, and what you hope to get out of a career, you will develop a picture of where you want to step next. Do research and talk to as many industry professionals as possible to learn where you can apply yourself.

Educate yourself
Part of your self-evaluation was inventorying the skills you have already. No doubt you can use some of these in a new capacity (whether they be technical skills, expertise in a particular subject, or interpersonal skills). But you also might need some skills you haven't learned yet. Figure out what these are and work toward developing them. Can you take a class? Do you have to go back to school for an advanced degree? Will you learn them on the job? Consider volunteering or doing part-time work if these are skills you can learn while working.

If you don't have experience relevant to the industry you hope to enter, you're best bet for getting a job is networking. Talk to everybody you know in the field, and then talk to everybody they know. At this point in time, you will be able to sell yourself better than your resume can.

Get experience
Nobody wants to take a cut in salary or responsibility. But without previous experience, you might have to suck it up until you learn more skills and gain experience. You've got to grin and bear it, and be confident in knowing that you are taking a step in the right direction.

Stay in touch
Remind yourself from time to time of what you learned through the process of changing careers. Stay grounded in the goals that you identified in your self-evaluation. As long as you remain faithful to these principles, your career change will be a successful one.

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