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10 Questions to Ask Before You Make a Major Career Change

Are you ready for a major career change? Have you been working in the same type of job or industry for years and your heart’s not in it anymore? Do you finally feel like you’re ready to take a big risk and switch to a completely different type of career?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you need to slow down, take a deep breath, and confirm that you’re truly prepared before you leave behind everything you know to venture into a new career. Make sure it’s the right time to make a big move, and make sure you’re completely ready to enter into a world that is completely new to you before you take the leap, because it’s hard to go back.

Following are 10 questions to ask yourself before you make a major career change. Answer each one honestly. As you review your answers, you might find that you don’t actually need a major career change to feel fulfilled and happy again. You could learn that you’re not aware of the challenges you’ll face in pursuit of a new career. You might realize you’re displaying signs that you’re ready for a job change, but not a career change. On the other hand, you might learn that a major career change is exactly what you need.

1. What do I want to accomplish by changing my career? What are my top five goals?

What are the positive catalysts behind your thoughts of making a career change? Honestly evaluate why you think a career change would be good for you and specifically identify at least five goals you hope to achieve by making a major career change right now. Review your goals and make sure that a career change can actually help you reach those goals.

2. What problems am I having that are making me consider a career change?

Why do you want to change your career right now? What are the negative catalysts pushing you in such a risky direction? Identify the problems in your current career that are causing you to think in extreme terms (because a major career change is an extreme decision that should not be taken lightly). Make sure that a career change will help you solve those problems.

3. If I change my career now, am I doing it for the right reasons?

Will changing your career really help you achieve your goals described in #1 above or solve your problems described in #2 above? A career change shouldn’t be a Band-Aid for your problems. Only pursue a major career change if it truly solves your problems and helps you reach your goals.

4. Do I have the education required to move into a new career?

Are there specific degrees or certifications that you need to have in order to pursue the new career you’re considering? Education and training cost money and take time. Make sure you’re prepared to spend the time and money necessary to obtain the education and credentials you need to have a chance of landing a position in your desired field.

5. Do I have the skills required to move into a new career?

Some types of experience can’t be learned in the classroom. These skills are best learned in a hands-on manner. If you need to get some hands-on experience with specific skills in order to succeed in a new career, make sure you take some time to get that experience before you leave your existing job.

6. Can I afford the financial impact that a major career change will have?

As mentioned above, making a major career change can require you to invest in education and training. Furthermore, you might need to invest in a new wardrobe to match the new career dress code, commute longer distances, move, attend networking events, and pay for all of the supplies that go into job hunting. Do you have that money available to you? Make sure your finances are covered before you quit your current job to pursue your new career full-time.

7. Am I prepared to make the commitments necessary to pursue a new career?

Time and money are just part of the career change process. You need to commit 100% to pursuing your career in all aspects of your life or you’re likely to fail. Completely changing your career is much more difficult than simply moving from one position to another in the field in which you already have education and experience. You can’t give up too soon, so be prepared to commit to your efforts for the long-haul.

8. How will a major career change affect my lifestyle, and am I willing to make the necessary changes to my life?

A career change could have significant effects on your lifestyle. For example, your work hours might change, your commute might change, or your living arrangements might need to change. You might need to travel in your new career more than you ever have before, or you might have to take a pay cut. Consider how your new career will affect your lifestyle and make sure you’re okay with those changes.

9. How will a major career change affect my family?

As mentioned above, a major career change can affect your lifestyle, finances, time, stress level, travel schedule, and more. If you have a family who will also feel the effects of those changes, you need to make sure that they’re on board and support your decision to change careers. A career change won’t work if you can’t afford to feed your children after you make the move.

10. Do I truly understand what is involved in the new career I’m considering?

A specific type of career might look great from the outside, or it might sound fun, interesting, or exciting. However, the daily grind of most careers isn’t as glamorous or wonderful as it looks from the outside. Make sure you do your research and learn everything you can about the career you’re considering. You can find a wide variety of information about any type of career online, and social media is a perfect place to tap into networks of people who work in the industry or career you’re thinking of moving into. Ask questions, read comments, and get informed before you take any drastic steps with your career.

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Join the Discussion

  • http://twitter.com/SomethingMoreRH Something More

    It’s not uncommon for a professional to feel as if his or heart is not in it anymore, especially when in pursuit of a more meaningful, well-rounded life. Sometimes a career change is the answer, but you’re right—it’s important to slow down, take a deep breath and confirm that one is truly prepared to make the switch. The 10 questions you offer are great ones to ponder when considering a major career change. As there is no place for “blind leaps of faith” in the crucial area of careers, my favorite tip is #3: If I change my career now, am I doing it for the right reasons? This is an important mindset to be in, and one that often needs shifting while in transition.

    I discuss some of these points in my new book titled, “Something More: The Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life,” a roadmap to a better life (amzn.to/V8wqcq) – Randy Hain, Bell Oaks Executive Search