Someone recently asked me “How does career change feel?” It’s a great question you might also be wondering about for yourself when trying to make your own change happen. And even though this may sound obvious, another great question is simply “What exactly is career change?”
Career change can feel strange at times. And exciting. And painful. And frustrating. And hopeful. And many other feelings. And sometimes you’ll have started it without even knowing!
So what is career change?
Also called career transition, basically career change is the process by which you start to head in another direction with your career. But what makes it a bit confusing is that you may start taking small steps toward it before you are even aware what’s going on inside of you.
Career change can be a major shift to something very different. For example, you are a waitress who decides it’s time to go to medical school. Or you’re a lawyer who is miserable wearing a suit and filing endless briefs and decides to become a truck driver – and loves it. The transition doesn’t always have to be up any career ladder!
But changing your career can also start with something as minor as starting to explore new things either connected to what you do now at work or finding things to explore in your spare time. It can even start with a single class that interests you – or some volunteer work.
Taking that first small step
In some cases, you get started just by doing things you’ve always wanted to do and maybe never had time – or never before gave yourself permission. And for some, it may simply be finally earning a big enough salary to afford to live a life you deserve. You can give yourself permission for that too!
What matters most is that you head yourself in a direction that brings you more of what you want – whatever that may be. But even if it’s about the money, you might as well aim for something that will also bring you more personal satisfaction.
How do I get started with MY career change?
I think one of the best places to start is by getting to know who you are and what makes you happy. Although your answers may change as you progress through the career change process, your three guiding questions from the beginning can be:
Who am I?
What makes me happy?
What do I really want?
The following articles will give you some great starting points:
(1) You can use the “assess yourself” section of the first article and the “assessing your own strength” article (along with some of the career quizzes) as starting points.
Use the other sections of the first article to help guide you with networking and “job tasting” as you explore your new career. Please know that it’s ok to give yourself permission to try more than one job, even as a temp or freelancer to see how it feels first-hand.
(2) In the second part of the “getting your job search started” article (link above), there are important tips about networking and informational interviews that can help you explore new career possibilities. Also keep the job search tips in mind when you’re ready to target your new career and potential employers!
What you might need to do as part of career change
- Research industries
- Research people to connect with
- Network online and in person
- Look for people for informational interviews
- Join organizations related to your new field
- Ask people for help
- Try new things first hand (as mentioned above)
- Learn new skills
- Go back to school
- Take wrong turns
- Learn more about who you really are than you ever imagined!
Some final thoughts
This may seem daunting, but if you do it one step at a time, remembering to ask yourself the three guiding questions at various times along the journey, you’ll get there. And you may also decide this is a perfect time to get some career coaching help. It’s what we do.
Please know that true career change can take years in some cases. But it can also take less time, especially if you’ve already taken some baby steps. Or if you have some help. Just remember to be patient.
The time you spend now is a great investment in the rest of your life!
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