Avoid These 10 Common Career Change Mistakes
Looking for a new job or thinking about how to change careers? You probably know that you shouldn't trip your current boss on your way out the door, but there may be common mistakes you haven't thought about. Fortunately, with the right information at your disposal, you don't have to make them. Here are 10 career change mistakes to avoid.
DON'T Forget Your Priorities
Unless your number-one passion in life is making money, choosing a career simply because it'll pad your wallet may lead to dissatisfaction. According to Gallup research, income beyond what makes people feel financially stable doesn't have much effect on their overall well-being. So, before you go chasing after millions, consider whether or not the money is worth being in a field that doesn't ignite your spark or having a job that you dread going to every day.
INSTEAD, consider finding a career that allows you to enter a state of “flow.” Flow is that feeling you get when you're deeply engaged in something you're passionate about, when you're challenged but not frustrated and when the hours seem to go by like minutes because you're so in the zone. According to flow expert, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, it's the key to happiness on the job and in life in general. Even if your career change is motivated by the need for a more substantial paycheck, there may be a job out there that allows you to feel motivated and fulfilled at work.
DON'T Rush into a New Career Because You Hate Your Job
Hating your job can send you into fight or flight mode when you've finally had enough, which can also result in sending job applications out carte blanche to find something new as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, rushing into the first new job you're offered often yields mediocre results in terms of increasing your professional satisfaction. Worst-case scenario: you'll end up in a job you hate as much (or more) than your current one because you didn't have time to evaluate what you really want out of your next career or make a game plan.
INSTEAD, stay put… for now. It can be quite unpleasant to work in a job you hate while you explore your other options, but it's often the best course of action for your future self. And remember, having a job you love doesn't mean that you'll be happy and fulfilled every day – focus on what motivates you. Having a purpose can help you find long-term career satisfaction.
DON'T Get Ahead of Yourself
Unless you have significant savings to keep you afloat while you prepare and search for a new job, putting in your two weeks' notice before you have an offer can be impractical and put you under a lot of pressure while you're interviewing for positions. No job is guaranteed until you have the offer in hand, and going into a job interview believing you absolutely have to get the job for the sake of your financial security could cause you anxiety and affect your interview performance.
INSTEAD, (and yes, this bears repeating), stay put… for now. Indicating that you have a job on applications often makes you appear more desirable to hiring managers. And being employed while you're interviewing signals to employers that you're employable – that you have the ability to hold down a job and be productive – qualities that every hiring manager in every industry looks for. Once you've wowed an employer and have found a new job, heed the advice from our article on how to quit your job to make the transition easier.
DON'T Change Careers Because Someone Is Pressuring You
Maybe your spouse or your parents think you could be making more money, or maybe someone in your life thinks you'd be better suited for a different industry or role. Ultimately, switching careers has to be your decision, one you've come to after concerted thought about what you want, what your goals are and what you believe will make you happy. If you do it for someone else and it ends up being the wrong decision, it can lead to feelings of resentment.
INSTEAD, remember that you're the captain of your own ship, and making any major decision to please someone else will often do little to please yourself in the long run. Trust what you know about yourself, trust your gut and do your own research into career possibilities.
DON'T Skip Self-Evaluation and Research
Don't start applying for jobs without taking the time to set yourself up for success. Going in blind can hurt you in the long run, as it may lead you to waste time searching for jobs that aren't right for you or to miss out on opportunities that might have been great for your career.
INSTEAD, start with some self-evaluation and research as you set your career change in motion. Keep in mind that, before you can land your dream job, you need to put some work into figuring out what you feel passionate about, what makes you happy at work, what your long-term career goals are, which skills you bring to the table and which job skills you need to acquire to change your job. Knowing yourself and the ins and outs of the job you want are essential for a successful career swap.
DON'T Forego a Plan
You can't expect your dream job to be handed to you without doing your due diligence in terms of planning, setting goals, etc. Being too spontaneous or banking on luck can result in no results, or, at least, not the results you want.
INSTEAD, after completing your self-evaluation and research, make a timeline and set goals. Your plan should include a series of specific, actionable steps that improve your chances of getting the attention of hiring managers as a job candidate. Check out our article about where to start when changing your career for some ideas about steps to incorporate into your overall plan.
DON'T Fly Solo
As frustrating as it can be to have the preparation, skills, and merit to land a new job but not the right connections, it's never the best idea to go it alone. Finding the right job can depend a lot on who you know, and many open job positions aren't even advertised but offered to candidates who were referred to the company. Just because you don't know anyone in the industry yet doesn't mean you should job hunt without some backup.
INSTEAD, go to networking events, connect with people in your desired field, leverage social media (LinkedIn specifically) and find a mentor in your desired field to give you a leg up in your job search. Changing careers involves doing everything you can to get your foot in the right doors, and fostering professional relationships will, in most cases, help you get introduced the right people faster.
DON'T Expect Your Future Employer to Train You
Most employers don't have the financial or personnel resources to provide you with extensive on-the-job training. They expect you to have the key experience and skills you need to perform your job duties on day one. In most cases, it's on you to acquire the skills and experience you need through professional projects, training, courses and professional development endeavors.
INSTEAD, find out what you need to know, learn it and then start your job search. For example, if you're pursuing a career in IT, you'll want to make sure your computer skills are up to current standards by learning the skills needed today. Otherwise, employers probably won't take you seriously as a viable candidate or you'll be in over your head when you start your new job. If you approach this change knowing that it's your responsibility to understand and plan for all of the necessary steps in the transition, you'll be much more likely to succeed and feel confident in your new position.
DON'T Fail to Update and Tailor Your Resume
If your resume simply lists all your past jobs and what you did, it'll be difficult for you to break into a new field or career role because hiring managers will focus too much on the jobs themselves versus the skills you gained.
INSTEAD, when you're switching careers, highlight your transferable skills and relevant training, experience and education. A functional or hybrid resume might be a better option for a career changer than a chronological resume. Rather than focusing on your most recent jobs, these resume types focus more on your skills.
DON'T Doubt Yourself
It can be tough to change careers. Others may not see your qualifications, or family and friends may question your decision. You may get discouraged along the way. But it's important not to give in to feelings of doubt before you've accomplished what you set out to do.
INSTEAD, remain confident in yourself and your abilities. Every step of the way, from deciding you deserve to be fulfilled at work to learning the skills you need for your dream job to interviewing for positions, you'll need confidence – it's the secret ingredient to both a career change and professional success over the long haul. Switching careers requires you to believe you have what it takes to accomplish your goals and succeed. And confidence is the soft skill you need to cultivate most as you venture toward your new job.
You have what it takes, no matter your experience, your current skills or your age. You just need faith in yourself and your ability to dedicate yourself to professional success. And it'll help, too, if you avoid making the career change mistakes listed above.
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