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Thursday, December 9, 2010

¤ Common Mistakes People Make When Changing Careers ¤

Common Mistakes People Make When Changing Careers

 By:Bobby Edelman;
(Excerpt from new Career Transition Ebook "An Over 40 Career Change: Arctic Freeze or Tropic Breeze © Learn more or Buy Now
Making a complete career change, whatever the reason, is a really big undertaking that can have huge ramifications in your life if you don’t take the time to think things through. Jumping too quickly can result in more unhappiness in your career than you’re feeling right now, so it’s important to avoid making a few common mistakes.

First, have a plan. Probably the biggest mistake you can make is attempting to change careers without a plan. A successful career change can often take months to accomplish when you have a strategy, so without one, you could end up adrift for an even longer period.

Having a detailed action plan (including items such as strategies, finances, research, and education/training) is essential to your success. Without a plan, you might take the first job offer that comes along, whether it is a good fit for you or not.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing hating your current job with hating your current career. Take the time to analyze whether it’s just the job, another employee, or your boss that you hate, or whether it’s the career, the skills necessary to do the job, or the work that you dislike.

The same goes with if you are feeling bored or lost with your job; review whether it’s the job, the employer, or the career. Whatever you determine, it’s best not to leave your job -- if possible -- until you have a plan for finding a new career.

Many people make career changes based solely on the prospect of making more money or because of better benefits. This, too, can be a mistake. Certain career fields are very alluring because of the salary and other benefits they offer, but be very careful of switching careers because of all the dollar signs.

Keep repeating to yourself, “Money won’t buy me happiness.” Remember that you may make more money, but if you hate your new career, you’ll probably be spending that money on stress- and health-related expenses. A career that’s hot today could be gone tomorrow, so dig deeper if this is the only reason you want a new career.

If you have people in your life who are pressuring you to switch jobs, it can be very stressful, and you might be tempted to change careers just to “shut them up”. Don’t let your parents, significant others or anyone else influence your career choice. They don’t have to live that career every day; you do.

If you love what you do and earn a reasonable living, why is it anyone’s business but yours? If you switch careers because of outside pressure to have a “better career,” and then hate your new career, you’ll end up resenting whoever pressured you to make the switch.

It can be very helpful and even necessary for you to seek out the help of someone when making a career change. Having a mentor when you start this new career can be very valuable. As soon as you have identified the career field you want to switch into, begin developing new network contacts. Conduct informational interviews. Join industry associations.

People in your network can provide inside information about job-openings and can even champion you to hiring managers. Networking is essential for all job-seekers, but even more so for career-changers. And use a current or new mentor as a sounding board to help guide you in the transition.

Examine all possibilities before “diving in”. Don’t jump career fields without first conducting thorough research into all the possibilities, including career fields you may never have considered. By conducting research into careers you have never considered or been exposed to, you may find the career of your dreams.

Talk to people in your network, read career and job profiles; meet with a career management professional. The more information you have about various career choices, the more successful you’ll be in making a career change.

Although we’ll talk about this a little later, you really need to do some self-reflecting and really thinking about what you and what you don’t like. Self-assessment of your skills, values, and interests is a critical component to career-change success. Make a list of the skills you love doing: in your job, in your hobbies, in all aspects of your life. Then list those things that you never want to do again.

You may want to consider taking one or more assessment tests, especially those with a career component. Preparing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis is also a useful activity. All these activities are designed so that you better understand yourself -- your product -- so that you can find the best career for you and then sell yourself to employers in that new career.

DO NOT change your career just because you’ve seen others succeed in that field. It’s human nature to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. Just because your best friend or neighbor is successful in a certain career does not mean that you will be -- or that you will be happy doing it -- so certainly consider the career field, but make sure you do the research before jumping into it.

Finally, just to add yet another cliché, too many job-seekers switch careers on the assumption that the grass is always greener -- and often times find out that is not the case.

You have to have some experience or education for almost all career fields. If you have neither for the field you want to get into, you’ll most certainly fail. As a career-changer, you must find a way to bridge the experience, skills, and education gap between your old career and your new one.

While transferable skills – those that are applicable in multiple career fields, such as communications skills - are an important part of career change, it is often necessary to gain additional training and experience before you can find a good job in a new career field.

Research whether you need additional training, education, or certifications. And try to find time to volunteer, temp, intern, or consult in your new career field -- what some experts refer to as developing a parallel career -- before quitting your current job and searching for a full-time position in your new career field.

If you’ve been in your current position for quite some time, chances are good that a lot of things have changed in the job market since you were last out there. If you don’t take the initiative to update your job skills – such as computer skills – then you won’t enjoy as much success as you might want.

Review your resume-writing techniques, master networking, and polish your interviewing skills. What’s the sense of doing all this research and preparation in attempting to change careers if you are not current with your job-search skills?

We mentioned a SWOT Analysis. This really is a useful tool when considering changing careers as well as in finding a job in general. Want to be sure to get the series “ Older Skilled Workers:Successful Career Change Tactics Revealed” be sure to sign up for our free newsletter.

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  2. Very useful article. It covered all areas one should reflect on while trying to change career


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