You can be a nasty surprise if you’re not careful before changing fields.
Career change is never easy. Half the world thinks you’ve lost your mind, headhunters say you never work again and your loved ones contribute the old “I told you so” routine. But for many people burned out, bored or multiple talents that are sitting on skills they do not get a chance to use, modify the fields is the only way to avoid losing their marbles.
Regardless of your career change strategy, never make these 10 mistakes:
1. Don’t Look for a Job in Another Field Without Some Intense Introspection
Nothing is worse than leaping before you look. Make sure you’re not escape a field that suits you just as bad as the last. Be sure you do a thorough self-assessment first.
2. Don’t Look for Hot Fields Unless They’re a Good Fit for You
You would not try to sneak into your skinny cousin, so why try a field because it works for him? People trying to help and will do the equivalent of whispering “plastics” in your ear. Instead of jumping to their suggestion, take the time to consider your options. Decide what you really want to do. When you enter a field just because it’s hot, burnout is not far behind.
3. Don’t Go into a Field Because Your Friend Is Doing Well in It
Get in-depth information on the fields you are considering networking, reading and doing research online. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends and family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.
4. Don’t Stick to Possibilities You Already Know About
Stretch your perception of what might work for you. Read job profiles and explore career fields that you learn about self-assessment exercises.
5. Don’t Let Money Be the Deciding Factor
There is not enough money in the world to make you happy if your job does not suit you. Job dissatisfaction and stress is a health issue No. 1 for working adults. This is particularly true for career changers, who often earn less until they get their sea legs in a different field.
6. Don’t Keep Your Dissatisfaction to Yourself or Try to Make the Switch Alone
It’s time to talk to people (probably not your boss for now). Friends, family and colleagues need to know what is going on so they can help you tap into this large percentage of jobs that are not advertised.
7. Don’t Go Back to School Unless You’ve Done Some Test-Drives in the New Field
You’re never too old for an internship, volunteer experience or trying your hand at a contract assignment in a new area. There are many ways to get an experience that will not cost you anything except your time. A new piece may or may not make the world sit up and take notice. Be sure where you want to go before you put yourself through the pain and debt of another program.
8. Be Careful When Using Placement Agencies or Search Firms
Do some research to be sure to find a good match. Ask those who work in the area you are trying to enter or other changers successful career for suggestions. Try to find a company that knows how to be creative when placing career changers – not one that focuses solely on the movement of people on the ladder in the same field.
9. Don’t Expect a Career Counselor to Tell You Which Field to Enter
Counsellors are facilitators, and they’ll follow your lead. They can help find your long-buried dreams and talents, but you have to do research and decision making for yourself. Anyone who promises to tell you what to do is dangerous.
10. Don’t Expect to Switch Overnight
A complete career change usually will take a minimum of six months to shoot, and time often stretches to a year or more.
Changing fields is one of the most invigorating things you can do. It’s like living young again, except with the wisdom of any age you are now.