Quick Tips: How to Make a Successful Career Change
For better or for worse, the era of spending a lifetime in a single job is, for the most part, long gone. In recent years, a much more dynamic labor market has emerged, with regular job changes over the course of a person’s working life rapidly becoming the rule, rather than the exception.
Employment statistics confirm this trend: today, it’s estimated that the average worker will hold seven or more jobs over the course of their career. Still, the mere fact that job changes now occur more frequently than they once did does not make the process of switching jobs any easier or less intimidating. Indeed, many of the same challenges that you face landing your first job will still apply when you’re looking for your fourth or fifth.
Even so, if you’ve reached a crossroads in your current role and you’ve got the urge to explore a new professional path, it may be time for a change. You could be harming your long-term prospects by lingering too long in a position you’ve outgrown or a field that no longer inspires you.
If you’ve taken the time to consider all of your options and you’re convinced that it’s time to make a change, you can equip yourself for a smooth, successful career switch with these basic guidelines.
Consciously adopt a winning attitude.
Mid-career job hunters who have been around the block a time or two know that the search for the right role can be a trying process marked by setbacks, reversals, and disappointments. You probably won’t approach the process with the same wide-eyed optimism of your first professional job search, and that’s probably a good thing. Deliberately take on an attitude that combines confidence, optimism, and realism in equal measure in order to weather the challenge.
Remember that good things come to those who wait.
As a mid-career job hunter, it’s likely that it may take a while longer for you to land your dream job, especially if you’re seeking to enter a new field or area of specialization. Take the time to be selective about which leads you follow, and try not to be too impatient. Experts caution that a mid-career job switch can take anywhere from four to six months to pull off successfully, so plan your transition accordingly.
Big picture, baby steps.
Craft a road map of the professional path toward the ideal long-term outcome of your career change, and then identify any obstacles that are standing in your way. Don’t have enough experience in the field? Look for an after-hours internship in your preferred area of specialization. Lack applicable education in your dream field? Sign up for an introductory night class at your local community college. Chip away at the obstacles standing in your way little by little. Before you know it, your persistence will pay off and you’ll be well-positioned to enter your new chosen field as a qualified applicant.
If you’re dragging your feet, double-check your goals.
If you find that you just can’t muster the focus or energy to mount an active search for a new position, take the time to analyze potential sources for your avoidance. Are you really ready to leave your current role? Does the career change you have in mind reflect your true interests? Sometimes, your resistance to the prospect of a job change can be a signal that the time isn’t right to make a switch.
If the timing’s right and the job market’s cooperative, making a mid-career job switch can be just what you need to perk up your professional life and reconnect with your passion. As long as you approach this challenge with the right attitude -- along with a healthy dose of patience, realism, and flexibility -- you could find your career on a completely different trajectory in the span of a few short months.