Over the years I have talked to hundreds of people who dislike their job or know they are in the wrong job. Most are reluctant to make a change for lots of different reasons. The most common is inertia – the feeling that they know this job and can do it so why bother to make a change. In recent years many of these people have lost their jobs and are now considering making a career change. Others are currently in a job and waiting for the economy to turn around before making a change. In either situation this list of 10 Mistakes Career Changers Make that will be useful.
1. Waiting until they are out of work before thinking about a career change. Making a career change takes time. When someone is out of work they usually want to get back to work quickly. Unless they have the financial resources or a temporary assignment to keep them afloat, doing the work necessary to find the right career change to make takes too long.
2. Deciding on what they are going to change to without research and self assessment. Before making a career change a person needs to be sure he/she has found a career that fits their behavioral style, skill set, and values. To do that he/she must have done a thorough self evaluation and then some research into the career itself. The research would include talking to people who currently have the targeted position.
3. Allowing money to be the major reason for the change. People who are well paid often limit their career change choices to careers that pay the same or more than their current career. That may lead to a poor career change choice. People who are in careers that don’t pay well also may limit their choices to higher paying careers. If someone only considers money and not values, passion and skill set, the career will not be the best choice for that person.
4. Choosing a career that a family member or friend said was a good choice. My mother always wanted me to be a computer programmer. Someone told her it was a good field. It didn’t sound like something I would like and fortunately I followed my own instincts. Career Changers need to do what interests them not what interests a family member. Going into the family business can be a mistake for some people.
5. Going back to school for a new degree or certification without having talked to people in the field. It is important to give a new career a test drive before deciding on it. Volunteering in an organization that allows you to try out your new career choice for a few weeks is one way to get this experience. Shadowing someone who has the job before making the change is another way to get a feel for the job.
6. Accepting the suggested career of a career counselor or recruiter. It would be nice if someone else knew exactly what was right for a person but no one can know that except the person him/herself. Career Changers can be open to suggestions but must examine the career for him/herself. There are no short cuts and anyone allowing others to make the choice for them is in danger of making the wrong choice.
7. Limiting their exploration to fields related to their current industry and position. Finding the career that is perfect means leaving all options open. Clues for new careers can come from past dreams and hobbies. There is detective work and intuition involved in finding a match that is right. Choosing to look at only possibilities related to their current field and industry may make the career changers overlook something that is perfect for them.
8. Changing careers because they hate their job. Career Changers must take the time to think about why they hate their job. Is it because of the work they are doing, the company they are doing it for or their manager? Many times a change of jobs can correct the situation without a change of careers. If it turns out to be the work that makes them hate the job, understanding what it is about the work that they hate will be a clue to what kind of work they will like.
9. Making a career change without a transition plan. Once the career changer knows what kind of a change to make, he/she will need a plan to move in that direction. Some people have all the skills they need to go to the new career. Others will need to take some interim steps to get there. One of the steps might be additional training. Another might be to take a lower level position and work their way into the position they actually are targeting.
10. Making a Career change without a coach. There are many steps to a career change and it is easy to get distracted and give up on the process. There are lots of temptations along the way that come from people who will want the person to just make up his/her mind. To do a thorough job having a coach as your guide is invaluable. It may well be the difference between a career that you love and just another job.
Alvah Parker is a Practice Advisor (The Attorneys’ Coach) and a Career Changers’ Coach as well as publisher of Parker’s Points, an email tip list and Road to Success, an ezine. Subscribe now to these free monthly publications at her website http://www.asparker.com/samples.html and receive a values assessment as a gift. Work becomes more meaningful and enjoyable when you work from your values.