The decision to make a career change can be simultaneously scary and exhilarating. In most cases, careers and jobs make up an important part of people’s identify and self-worth, not to mention their ability to produce a living wage. So taking the plunge into a career change is not a decision to take lightly.
So how often do people change careers? There is no solid number available, although career professionals often use Bureau of Labor statistics to cite an average of 5 to 7 career changes during a work lifetime. However, others challenge this contention.
Whatever the number of career changes, each one produces consequences—potentially positive and/or negative—so must be addressed carefully. Please note that the number of career changes does not correspond to the number of job changes. Many people change jobs—quite often in many cases—but choose to remain in the same career path. In addition, people often change careers within an organization without becoming part of the job search market.
Here are 3 ways to effectively manage your career change to maximize success, while minimizing major disruption.
Ask the “Why” Question.
It may be tempting to plunge forward with a career change without knowing specifically why you want to do it. This is a potentially fatal error because the steps taken to execute the career change are usually closely related (or should be) to the reason why. Do you want more money, less stress, more creativity, and/or different and more challenging work responsibilities? Whatever the reason, take the time to determine what is fueling the need for a career change.
Gain a Better Understanding of Your Talents, Interests, and Motivations.
If you want to transition, for example, from an accountant to a sales manager career path, ask yourself if this is achievable and what background and experience you have—or can get—that will maximize your chances for success. Brainstorming with people you trust and then writing down the results can be quite helpful in this regard.
Using a career professional to determine and discuss personality traits or job-related interests can often be a great way to examine a change in career path.
The MBTI or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a personality inventory used to help a client choose the right career through use of Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. Another assessment, Strong Interest Inventory, is an empirically-based and time-tested tool for measuring people’s interests and how they related to occupational characteristics and environments.
Often these assessments are used together to help people gain a better understanding of their match with various career paths.
Identify the Steps Needed to Make the Career Change.
A career is no different than a job search campaign in that proper planning is key to success. Create a written plan that has numerous milestones that determine progress, along with reasonable timeframe expectations. Also, incorporate an evaluation framework where the plan can be reviewed regularly and adjustments made based on changing circumstances, opportunities, or challenges.
The stress level of most people will go up in relation to the control they feel of their circumstances and environment. This is certainly true of career change. Proper management is the best ingredient for producing a successful career change because it enables you to make decisions based on research, facts, and an evaluation of alternatives.