You Probably Want to Change Careers — So Here’s How to Do That
Recent Research from the University of Phoenix found that roughly 60 percent of all working adults — and 73 percent of professionals in their 30s — want to change careers. If you’re thinking that’s too many people to be a coincidence, you’re probably right.
“In the survey, we found that half of those who said they wanted to change careers had entered their careers just because their were jobs available,” says Ruth Veloria, executive dean at the University of Phoenix Business School. “I think what we’re witnessing is a large-scale lack of careers that are interesting or engaging personally. Some people had to make some compromises, especially in the last eight or nine years, and now things are starting to change in the economy. Now, more people are wondering: Is it time for me to make a change?”
The study also found that people with annual salaries between $75,000 and $100,000 were most likely to have lost interest in their fields (45 percent) and feel burned out (40 percent).
Veloria believes this results from the “plateauing” affect many professionals feel when they reach this level in their careers.
“When we encounter folks in that bracket at University of Phoenix, oftentimes they are in the middle of their careers, and … they are feeling like their opportunities are beginning to narrow in their field,” Veloria explains. “They can feel like they are becoming stuck. When you are trying your hardest to move forward, but you may not have the skills to make that jump from middle management to the executive level, that can only enhance the feelings of burnout.”
If you’re one of the many people in want of a new career, Veloria has some tips for you:
1. Remember That Skills Are Transferrable
Some professionals feel they can’t possible change careers because doing so would mean starting over in an entry-level position. Veloria says that this is a mistaken belief.
“Of course, you need to do the research on how to get into the career that you want to have, but the important thing is to understand which of your skills can translate,” Veloria says.
For example, say you work for an advertising agency, but you want to move into health care in some capacity. Veloria says you may want to consider moving into the health care industry by starting in a marketing position at a level that is comparable to your current role at the ad agency.
And, if you’re worried that you lack a couple of the skills you need to make the jump from one career to the next, Veloria wants to remind you of the existence of online certificate programs, MOOCs, and similar training options.
“There are definitely ways that you can add to your portfolio of skills without having to go back to square one,” Veloria says.
2. Take Some Time to Understand Yourself and Your Career Goals
Let’s go back to pretending you work for an ad agency and want to switch over to health care. We told you to get a marketing position with a health care organization.
Great, you say. But I don’t want to be in marketing. I want to be in health care.
What you need to do at this point is some heavy self-reflection.
“Once you’re in the industry, you can examine where your long-term pathway lies in that field,” Veloria says.
A good way to do this is to find a mentor within the organization who can help you map out your new career path.
“You can have mentors in your company, or mentors in your field, who can help you grow,” Veloria says. “They can help you find new opportunities that align with your passion, and they can help you understand what it is you need to do to get there.”
3. Become More Entrepreneurial in Your Career
A mentor can help you blaze a trail to your goals, but, Veloria says, you need to remember that it is your trail to blaze.
“Don’t wait for HR to manage your career,” Veloria says. “You can manage it for yourself.”
Veloria believes that professionals looking to make career changes — and even those who are not — need to become more entrepreneurial and “take control of [their] career[s]” if they want to succeed.
Veloria spent time in high-level customer service roles with a number of big-name financial organizations, thereby becoming “quite expert in customer experience and satisfaction.”
When she came to University of Phoenix, however, Veloria wondered how should could use her knowledge of and passion for customer service for the organization.
“We work a lot on our student experience, and I [found a way to] fit my skills into that operating environment,” Veloria says. “I was able to create a brand-new position for myself that didn’t exist. I sat down, thought about what was missing, presented the business case for why it was needed, and was able to have that business case accepted.”
“It’s important to remember,” adds Veloria, “that all jobs that you want don’t necessarily exist in your company today. It’s a bold move — but it can be very successful — to create the job [you want] and sell it to the management team.”
And if you can do that, maybe you won’t even need to go through a whole career change. Maybe you can find passion and fulfillment in the field in which you felt burnt out in the first place.