Everyone knows that it’s a difficult choice, as well as a difficult path, to change to a new career. It’s not easy to know what to do during such a transition.
Why? Because changing careers means that you’re choosing to adjust to a new working environment and consequently redefining your professional identity.
However, it’s not as difficult as you might think to make a change. Below are five steps for making a mid-career transition:
Step #1—Figure out what you really want.
The first thing to do is make sure that you really need to change jobs, can take charge in the new field, and can take the potential risk caused by the change. Ask yourself questions such as, “Am I going to be able to leverage my skills and experiences to make a successful transition?” Only when you’re sure that you won’t regret your decision is it time to prepare for the next step.
Step #2—Research the new careers.
You need to do your homework. It’s natural to feel insecure when nothing is certain, but researching can help you feel more safe and sure of yourself. You can find some useful information about your new career on the Internet, in books, or from other people. The more prepared you are, the greater your chances of success.
Step #3—Create a plan.
Write down your final goal first and then break it down. Draw a timeline and divide all of your work into clear daily or weekly tasks. What skills do you need to acquire? What things do you need to deal with in your current job? How much money do you need to support yourself or your family until you have a new job? Who you are going to meet with who can help you? Write out your plan and review it often. After you complete the plan, you’ll notice how small steps tend to have a “snowball effect.”
One of the keys to successfully changing jobs is networking. You can get information and advice about your new career or be introduced to others who can help you with these. Don’t be afraid of not having anyone to network with, because you must have—open your contacts and see the list of your family members, friends, former classmates, and colleagues. You can also try to connect to related professional organizations or alumni groups from college to broaden your network.
Step #5—Get what you need for finding a new job.
In your plan, you should have figured out what you’re lacking in your new career field. If what you need is experience, which is the easiest to obtain, just look for a part-time or volunteer job to get that experience. If what you need is skill or education, then make the decision of whether or not you’re willing to make that investment in your new career. It could be a simple matter of taking an online course, or it could be the difficult choice of leaving your family to study far away.
Just make the choice that you believe is the right one for you.