According to figures collected by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average person will switch careers between three and seven times in his or her lifetime.
Truthfully, it’s hard to nail down the exact number of career changes. That’s because everyone defines a new career differently. Some define it as a new job or a promotion. While those are big steps, this article defines a career change as beginning a new occupation, like a doctor practicing law or an accountant becoming a contractor.
When to make a change?
Absent perhaps the complete elimination of your occupation overnight, there really isn’t one specific indicator that will signal when it’s time to change careers. That being said, here are a few considerations.
1. Declining industries
Every so often, there is a paradigm shift in an industry, whereby a career becomes obsolete. Just think of all the occupations that have disappeared thanks to technology. While rare that your particular industry will collapse overnight, you should be aware of market changes and whether new technology could make your role irrelevant.
2. Outside demand for skills
Career advancement is an important component of your working life. Always be aware of outside demand for the skills you possess. If a new career path will offer you greater potential for skills you already possess, then you should seriously consider the change.
3. Unhappiness and boredom
There will always be days that you don’t want to work. You’ll want to hit the snooze or leave early. That’s normal. What isn’t normal (or healthy) is a constant unhappiness with what you do. Your career shouldn’t constantly be draining you of energy or causing depression. You need to find some measure of passion and happiness in what you do. If your career doesn’t stimulate you, it could be time for a change.
Ensuring a smooth transition
Major life decisions require a plan. It isn’t as simple as giving your employer notice, searching for a new job, and then starting fresh. Before you pack your desk and head for greener pastures, here are a few things to consider.
1. Do some research
As previously mentioned, you’ll want an idea of where you’re going before leaving where you are. Who is hiring? Are you qualified? Will you need to relocate? Is your desired career experiencing a downturn and at risk of obsolescence? You may even want to decide if you need to leave your current employer. Perhaps your employer offers positions directly in line with your career change.
2. Consider the cost of change
Once you’re confident you must change, take an inventory of everything you’ll need to get done. Will this new career require additional education? How much will that cost? Will you need to start at the bottom of the career latter, and if so, will your salary and cost of living change? Make sure you understand all the costs of your change. Otherwise you could dramatically increase your stress levels, making your hopes of a smooth transition unlikely.
3. Build your network
Once costs are considered and research is done, a smooth transition requires that you network with other professionals in this new field. This will not only help you learn insider tips to improve your chances of success, but it also helps cement the change. When others see who you associate with, it solidifies the new direction you’ve taken. You may even luck out and find a mentor to give you a much more unique education.
Thinking its time for a career change? Or just looking for a new job? See who’s hiring.