These days a lot of people are considering changing jobs, careers or even opening their own business. The tough economic climate has made such a proposition even more appealing to those who have been laid off or fear being laid off in the future. Now, many people are thinking and wondering if it is the right time to make the switch. When considering making any type of career change, there are a few considerations and actions to take before taking the plunge.
First, Look Within
The very first thing that anyone considering a career change should be doing is asking questions of themselves about what type of career would be the best fit for their capabilities and interests. Ask yourself what kinds of activities you find interesting and challenging, and would enjoy even if you never got paid for it. Think about what sort of work and travel schedule you desire, and your preferences for working in teams or alone. Achieving some personal insight in these areas will help you begin to determine which types of careers might be a good fit for you, and may help to point you in the right direction. For example, someone who thinks they might want to pursue a research role, might think twice about it after reminding themselves that they prefer to work in teams rather than working in a job that may sometimes require a good deal of solitary work.
In the age of social networking, the concept of utilizing your personal and professional relationships to help yourself or others with a career or job search is nothing new. So when considering changing jobs or pursuing a new career, it can be helpful to use your network to get leads on job opportunities or advice about a particular area of interest. Sometimes just talking about your career interests with another person will give you ideas that you might never have considered.
In addition, networking can also include attending conferences, industry events or career workshops in an area that you’d like to explore. Not only will you increase your opportunities to develop relationships in your area of interest, but by attending these events you can also gather more information and insight about the types of hiring activity that might be going in companies in that field.
Study and Research
Another consideration for anyone thinking about a job or career change is to research and study your areas of interest. Internet research, a trip or two to the local library, and even a college course or certification program are all good ways to get more acquainted with a particular field that you think you might be interested in. Doing one or all of these things will help you figure out if a particular career is right for you. If your previous career was in accounting, but you decide you want to pursue your love of animals and consider a career in veterinary sciences, not only should you do all the research you can about different jobs one can perform in that field, but also consider pursuing studies in animal husbandry or animal care. You’ll be surprised to find out that many colleges or universities offer online degrees which will not require you to go back to school full-time or even part-time.
Just Do It
Lastly, sometimes the most valuable thing you can do to get a more realistic idea of whether a new career is right for you, is find some type of activity that will get you real, day-to-day exposure to the very job activities that you might be doing in that career. In essence, if you want to work in a new field, find a way to just do it. For example, someone who is interested in pursuing a legal career doesn’t have to start studying for their LSATs and applying to law schools right away. Instead, check out opportunities to do volunteer work that allows you to interact with attorneys, or request a project in your current job that will allow you to partner with the legal department on a new initiative. This will provide you with opportunities to ask questions and get a very small, even if superficial taste of what it might be like to work in the legal profession. Likewise, if you’re interested in moving from a sales role into a project management career, look for opportunities to assist with or manage projects at work, at your church, or even consider working as an unpaid assistant with a small start-up in your spare time. Whatever the activity, getting some type of practical exposure to your intended field will give you a taste of what you’ll potentially experience in the future.
by Melanie Haniph