Nothing in life is permanent – except for change. Do you remember the song ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson? It is one of many, many great songs about change. Dealing with change, especially career change, can be excruciating for many people. It doesn’t have to be though.
Want to listen to the song again? If so, go here…
Some people just start on a career path and it works out great for them – they have continued success and enjoy the ride. Great. A good personal example is one of my own sons. He came back from a tour in Iraq with the Army and decided he wanted to be a lawyer. He has stayed in that career and been very successful.
I will tell you that this is the exception to the rule. Most of us have to deal with a great number of events that result in a need to change careers. Some of these events are within us or within our control and many are not; like offshoring, changing economics, demographics, etc.
I myself am on my 5th career! First, the US Navy, then Mental Health, then Manufacturing IT, then Financial Services IT, and currently Career Development. And I am not even that old! Ok maybe I am kind of old… But that’s about as far from a straight line as you can get.
The fact is that at some point everyone wonders ‘Is it time for me to make a change?’ No one can answer that for you, but there are things you can do to help you decide for yourself.
- Go evaluate yourself. First you need to really know your own skills and interests. You can do this by using various assessment tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory and Campbell Interest & Skill Survey. Another way is refer back to previous performance appraisals, 360 assessments, or even feedback from colleagues.
- See what’s out there. Take a comprehensive look at the marketplace. What industries and jobs seem to be growing? Which of those interests you or might be a good match? Check out the Labor Department’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, job boards and the business press to see what’s happening.
- Prepare your chosen path. Now dig a little deeper. Research some specific jobs to identify specific skills or experience they are looking for. Fill in the gaps with volunteer work, networking, or classes to position yourself for the jump.
Sure, this is risky. But don’t let fear immobilize you. Many prospective employers will view your willingness to change course as a sign of maturity, self-awareness, and confidence – which makes you a more attractive prospect.
Remember, you may need to take a step back (in salary, title,etc) in order to pave the way forward. Be realistic about this to avoid disappointing surprises.
Don’t burn any bridges from your previous employment. That way you can always shift back if things don’t work out the way you planned…