As I complete work on a new career change guide and in my work with clients every day, I get a good sense of what you face in making a career change. There are many decisions to make along the way. The key to the success is to know what you want before you make a move.
Here are five tips that will help you make a successful career change and avoid some of the most common pitfalls career changers face.
1. Know what your personal values are before making a career change.
Your values define you. They guide your priorities and govern your personal choices. Have a good sense of what your personal values are so you select a career path that is in line with your values.
2. Remember that it is always easier to find a job when you have a job.
Keep your job until you’ve got a new job. Sure, you may hate the line of work you are in, but you need to be at your most marketable when you make a career change. You have far more leverage when you actually have a job.
3. Have all of the skills necessary for your career change.
Again, you need to be at your most marketable when you actually make your career change. Do you have the required knowledge, skills and abilities? What about licenses and certifications? An example: If you’re planning on going into project management, ask yourself what other project managers have in terms of special skills and expertise. Are most project managers certified these days? If the answer is yes, perhaps it is something you will want to include as an action item in your career change plan.
4. Don’t jump at the next fad career.
You want your career to grow and evolve with you. Do some research on career projections before you select a career path. The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 is an excellent resource. In the Overview of the 2008-2018 Projections, the handbook offers a comprehensive analysis of career statistics according to population, labor force, employment and total job openings as well as employment change by industry, occupation and by education and training.
You should also check out major newspapers, trade magazines and professional associations affiliated with your career selection to really get a good sense of where the industry is going in the future.
5. Have a plan and get some help.
You need a plan. Unless you want to keep making career changes, have a plan and get some help. Tap into the expertise of a career coach to help guide you through the transition to a new career. Your coach will help you get clarity and cut through any confusion through assessments, questionnaires, plan development and coaching sessions. Marketability, strategic positioning, and career planning are just some of the areas in which a coach can help you. Partnership with a coach can yield huge returns; make the investment.
Don’t take chances on your career change success. Have a good idea of what you want and what you should avoid. Your transition to a new career will go far more smoothly.