I am no stranger to career changes and all of the challenges that come along with it. Some changes were easier than others and some more predictable, but all required planning and personal reinvention.
I’m hoping to share my experience and help you decide the best approach for you.
Sometimes, when significant changes occur in our lives, we start re-thinking things we’ve been doing and imagining what we could do to change what is not fulfilling. That usually includes our careers.
It’s unusual to find someone completely satisfied with their career, and if you’re one of them, great for you! Keep doing what you love. But, if you believe a change could be beneficial, you’re not alone.
Changing our career is not an easy task, and we should be prepared to lose some important things we have achieved. Of course, some of our past experiences will help us during the change, but others won’t add the same value, and we will need to develop new skills.
We usually know what we don’t want to do, but finding what we want isn’t always as easy.
Things to consider before making the career transition
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Find something that will make you wake up every morning looking forward to getting started.
Didn’t find your passion yet? Think about things you see yourself doing or liked to do in the past, and try to experiment with informal activities.
You could engage in volunteer work inside or outside your organization, ask to contribute during off-hours to your passion projects. You could also try a short-term course to get some perspective.
It’s funny how things you thought you’d like to do, may not work out after a few trials.
Is it the right time for a career transition?
Depends! Do you have a solid job? If not, what do you have to lose? If yes, the best option could be to wait until the market gets back to normal. However, you could start planning and acquiring new skills.
Is money your immediate priority? If yes, re-think changing now. You can usually make more money doing what you do best.
How are you planning the transition?
Don’t try to apply to a new position if you don’t have the experience the company is requesting, it won’t work.
Instead, you could try a change inside your organization, where people know your work and will take into consideration more things than only your experience.
Your company doesn’t encourage internal changes? Then you could make a lateral move (same position) to a company that believes and fosters people’s development and prepare yourself to embrace a new challenge in the future.
Do you have the skills for the new role you’re planning to take?
You may not have the experience but could have the skills needed to do the job.
If you don’t have the majority of the skills required, it may be wise to acquire them before making a bold move. Those will undeniably help you with the future transition.
Have you spoken to someone that does what you want to do?
This is the best way to do a reality check on your expectations. Getting the point of view from an insider is precious and will bring up points you didn’t consider.
Don’t hesitate to search for people and ask for help.
Are you open to start over in your career?
Are you prepared to leave your glorious accomplishments behind to become a newbie in your new position? Ok, it wasn’t as magnificent, or you wouldn’t be thinking about a change.
Jokes apart, are you resilient enough to take on the new challenges?
The major challenge is leaving a position where you had success or knew what needed to be done, and be open to being tested on simpler things.
It’s easy to underestimate the size of the challenge and how much our resilience will be tested. The truth is that no matter how prepared you believe you are, there will be things you didn’t expect, and for that, you need to be patient.
If you strive for success and recognition usually, carefully analyze how long will you be able to go without a major accomplishment? Because it could take some time.
I have the privilege to work today for a company that incentivizes people to learn new skills and has the flexibility to look beyond your experience. When my position was flipped over by the pandemic, I was fortunate to engage in interesting projects that were a part of my career path.
Unfortunately, in the past, I didn’t have the same luck and had to switch over to embrace the challenges I wanted.
My last piece of advice is — don’t settle. It’s your career and only you can make it happen.