Do What You Love: Planning a Career Change

| July 10, 2015

dangerous businessThe Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average employed American spends over 7.5 hours a day at work or doing a work-related activity – more time than any activity other than sleeping.   According to a recent study, over 55% of Americans want a career change. Why do so many people continue to spend most of their time in jobs or careers that makes them unhappy or unsatisfied?  For many, it is because switching careers seems like a daunting task, with just too many obstacles blocking your way. But if you are determined to make a career change, there are only three main hurdles between you and your dream job.

Get Noticed: If you want to get a new job, you first have to find a job to get.  That seems obvious, but many people do a poor job looking for employment because they do so reactively. They search job boards for openings, take advantage of “now hiring” signs, or rely on other methods that require a reaction to an advertised job offer.

According to many job experts, the key to finding the right job is to be proactive. The proactive method of job hunting requires learning everything you can about a prospective job and meeting everyone who can help you land that job.  A proactive job searcher will not wait for a job offer to be posted, but instead will go looking for it through internet searches within the field of interest, locating companies in that field, reaching out to hiring departments for information on potential job openings, and by going out and meeting people who work in the field.  Not only will meeting new people boost your confidence and demonstrate your ambition, but talking with people within that field will give you a much better understanding of what an employer is looking for in a new hire. Additionally, a current employee that you remain in contact with throughout the application process might provide you with an intra-company referral.  Since employers tend to hire people that they know, making yourself known within the company before you even apply will set you apart from the other applicants.

Get Educated:  Having strong connections is a great asset, but not being qualified for a position practically guarantees that your application will come up short.  Certainly, some careers have strict degree requirements, but for others getting a new degree is not always required. Many companies will accept the completion of a training or certification program as an indication of knowledge.  If your potential employer is one such company (and you need to make sure before you start the process) then you can plan a short path to be competitively educated in that field. Employers want to hire people who will do the job correctly, so make sure you know how to get the job done right. Internships and volunteer work are also great ways to build these practical job-related skills while simultaneously networking with your potential peers.

Get Ready: One of the hardest parts of changing careers is finding the time to build your new skills and meet your future peers. But lost time also means lost money. While it is possible to attend night classes while working a full-time job, sometimes life gets in the way. In order to smoothly transition between careers, you need to build a cash “safety net.”  Some experts counsel that this safety net should be large enough to cover one year of typical expenses plus twenty percent for any unforeseen emergencies. Also, make sure that you account for the potential loss of offered benefits, such as health insurance, before you embark on a new career. If you do decide that you need to go back to school, take advantage of any financial aid programs available to you. Many companies offer tuition assistance, so check with your current or future employer. Scholarships are also invaluable because they can significantly cut the overall cost of additional education. With proper planning, the financial strain of changing careers can be mitigated, and possibly even eliminated entirely.

In the big picture, career change is very common, and is part of a vibrant national economy. Between the ages of 18 and 48, the average person will change jobs eleven times. Many people feel that once they start a career, they are too heavily invested to find new opportunities. But for many, finding a career that they love is a key to personal success.  So, you can take the initiative, learn new skills, and prepare for the future, and then make your dream job a reality.

Category: Lifestyle