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There comes a time in oneâ€™s professional life where a job or career change may appear to be inevitable. Professional challenges, career stability, and the lack of a sense of fulfillment in oneâ€™s work are some of the factors which may persuade individuals to consider different career options.
However, before embarking on a new career path, it is vital for people to carefully review their current situation and clarify underlying motivators to determine whether a career change is the most suitable solution. Changing careers can carry some major risks, and if one has not fully prepared for such a change, career growth and success may be difficult to achieve.
If you think that a career change would improve your circumstances, then here are some key questions you might reflect upon to gain clarity and focus on the right career direction for you:
1. What is it about your present work that you are not happy or satisfied with?
It is essential to ask what aspects of oneâ€™s present work are triggering the desire to make a career change. Is it the nature of the job, the work environment, compensation and benefits, the colleagues and superiors one is working with, the management practices, or the lack of career advancement opportunities?
It may be that these can be addressed by discussions with your manager within your current organization. However, if internal drivers such as a change in oneâ€™s attitude, passion, and interests are not being addressed, then these may be significant factors why a person may feel he or she has lost direction in his or her career. It can be difficult to devise and implement a meaningful career action plan without being clear about these important drivers.
2. What are the consequences of a career change?
Understanding the implications and impact of a career change will help people assess and identify their career options. A career change is likely to considerably affect oneâ€™s lifestyle, finances, as well as personal and professional relationships, at least in the short term. Â Pursuing a different job or career may require investing in training and education to further existing skills, develop new capabilities or become more knowledgeable about the new role, company or field one wishes to enter. Â It is, therefore, critical that you evaluate and analyse whether you can afford and are prepared to deal with the risks and consequences of a career change.
3. What do you want to achieve by changing careers?
It is important for an individual to establish a clear set of goals and objectives before deciding on a major career move. Some professionals who change career paths may do so to increase their earning potential, achieve better work-life balance, make a tangible contribution to their chosen field, or to satisfy presently unmet passions. Exploring your values and preferences, and looking holistically at how your career supports your overall life aspirations is essential in developing those goals and objectives.
4. What are your transferable strengths and skills?
Gaining insight on your transferable strengths and skills is also vital, especially if you are embarking on a new field or career. Â Working with a professional coach may help you determine what these are and how your existing strengths, skills, abilities and experience may be valuable to the field you are interested in. For example, if you have benefitted from leadership or management coaching programs with a current or previous company, then you can explore how those skills which were developed through that coaching might be leveraged in your prospective new career.
5. How will you prepare for this career change?
After analysing the various factors that provide the context for your planned career change, exploring different strategies to help you prepare and implement your career plan should be considered. Professional coaching may be valuable if you need support and assistance in defining your career direction and laying out a clear plan to achieve it.
An expert career coach will help you assess your career choice and develop future career plans that will build on your strengths, experiences, preferences, and values. Getting support through interview coaching is also recommended as you progress along through your career plan. Interview coaching typically involves the preparation of CVs and application letters, interview simulation, development of interview strategies and more to help you demonstrate skill and confidence when presenting yourself at an important job interview.
Changing careers can be an exhilarating yet daunting experience. While there is no foolproof way to ensure success in making an important career move, there are several measures that will help you to prepare and increase the prospect of achieving the change and growth you seek.
Debra WrightÂ blogs about a plethora of topics such as leadership or management coaching. Wright considers Rainbow’s Edge as one of Australia’s leadership training program.