Have you enjoyed a satisfying career, but you feel like it’s time for something new? Then you might be thinking about stepping out and embarking on a career change. However, a decision like this must be made with care and thought. Changing your career will require a significant investment of your time, money, and energy, so adequate preparation is key. Here are four tips to make sure your next step is a successful one.
1. Decide if this is what you want
Start simple. Make a list of the pros and cons of your proposed career. Get everything down on paper and do some soul searching. Next, make an appointment with a career counselor so you can get a clear picture of your likes and dislikes as well as your strengths and weaknesses. You may want to start by visiting your alma mater’s career center and making use of the alumni services. Also look into spending some time at different companies so that you can get a feel for what your future job would be like. Job shadowing and internships are not just for high school and college students. There are internship programs tailored just for career changers. You can also offer to volunteer your services so that you can get more experience.
2. Don’t go into debt
Changing careers can be a fun and exciting step, but it’s not worth digging yourself into significant debt. Make sure you’re financially prepared before you make any big moves. Once you are certain you want to make the switch, sit down and figure out how much it is going to cost you to make it happen. Also look for scholarships and programs that offer financial assistance to career changers. There are several programs for those who are making a transition to industries that have experienced talent shortages, such as healthcare and technology.
In addition to researching the cost of education, take time to see how much you can expect to make in your new field. Remember that you’ll need to be able to pay those bills back and support yourself and a family if you have one. Websites like Salary.com, Glassdoor, and Payscale.com are good places to start.
3. Seek a mentor
Reach out to professionals who are already working in your field of interest. LinkedIn can provide the introduction you need to get the ball rolling. Check to see if anyone within your current network is linked to a person in your desired field. If the connection goes well, you may want to suggest meeting for coffee or tea so that you can chat and can get more information about the career you plan to enter. Attend industry conferences and make an effort to build relationships face-to-face.
4. Don’t burn bridges
Once you have decided that this is what you want to do, don’t turn around and burn the bosses and co-workers you leave behind. Even if you hated your job and everyone who worked with you, always stay classy. You never know when you’ll need to reach out to former co-workers or supervisors for assistance. And you may even run into some of these same people again at future jobs. So play nice.