Changing careers used to be considered a very risky and foolish move. Decades ago, it was rare to change career paths and blaze new trails. Not only were college educations fewer (many people were more hesitant to switch careers after studying so many years at their chosen profession), but work experience and loyalty to one’s firm was considered of the utmost priority.
Of course, today’s workplace has changed. Nowadays, it is rare to find an employee who retires after 40 years with a gold watch, and most people find that staying with one company for their entire working career doesn’t make good business sense. It gets boring and stale, and it leaves employees with limited chance for growth and upward mobility.
Not only are Americans braver about switching companies, we are also becoming bolder about changing careers as well. While the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) doesn’t specifically track data regarding how often people change careers, it is estimated that the average American changes career paths around seven times in his/her lifetime.
In fact, with the New Year just passing, many Americans are eagerly planning career changes and brainstorming ways to enhance their professional lives. However, there are some things you should consider before changing careers. Think about the following:
Ask yourself why you want to change careers. Is it because you are frustrated and bored in your current position, or is it because your chosen industry no longer stimulates you? If it’s the former, perhaps you would be better off asking your boss for new responsibilities, or even looking for open positions in your field. However, it if it is the latter, don’t waste anymore time stuck in a career that isn’t for you. You have options, and chances are, many of your talents and skills will be applicable in another field as well, whether you are a teacher who is interested in getting into writing or a lawyer who wants to become a social worker.
Be realistic. Do your research and find out whether your dream position will be suitable for your lifestyle and your financial needs. Consider your current bills and expenditures, and then look online to find the average salary for the new career you are considering.
Network with people who have the career you desire. Join a networking group that will connect you with people who are working in the field you are considering. Pick their brain and find out what they love about their work and also what they find difficult. Ask if they know of any intern positions or volunteer positions that will allow you to get hands-on training while deciding if the career change is right for you.
Consider using a staffing agency. One great way to gain experience and try out numerous different types of positions is through a staffing agency. Not only are staffing agencies, such as Addison Group, great for when you need temporary work or want to prevent holes in your resume, but they also give you the opportunity to try numerous different positions with multiple firms in order to find out what environment and career is best for you.
The bottom line is that if you don’t like your current career, you aren’t stuck with it simply because you have experience and education in that field. You can apply your skills and your strengths to a new career path, provided you are willing to do the work and get outside of your comfort zone. It’s never too late to try something new; you never know what the future has in store in for you!