After a few years, or a few decades, on the job, many people begin to dream about a career change. The average person changes careers three to seven times over a lifetime. The number varies widely based on what source you read, and what is the definition of a true career change. Some people change jobs within an industry, while others change almost everything about their professional path.
What are specific steps to take to ensure that a career change is a move in the right direction?
Bolles directs people to O*Net Online, a “digital, online treasure house of up-to-date information about 900 occupations groups by categories such as: industries in great demand; largest number of openings anticipated and the amount of preparation or training required.”
Another good idea from Bolles is career assessments, which can give “guidance, insight and direction that career changers are looking for.” Career assessments are usually questionnaires or tests that determine where an individual interests lie. He recommends taking several of these assessments, which can be found in places like the Internet or career coaches, to get a good idea of what career is a good fit.
Some of the best of Bolles advice deals with understanding what the job market needs over the coming years. A dream career may go nowhere if no one is hiring in that particular area. Bolles recommends keeping your eye on “the coming needs and wishes of the job marketing during the current decade.” He also adds, the career change might involve “not what you want, but what the market needs.” There are numerous places to go to find trending jobs, and the Internet is always a good place to start.
Author Mark Miller, writing for What’s Next, advises individuals not to rush into any career change, as the consequences can be life-altering. However, if you find yourself “bored, empty or worn out,” it may be time to face a big change.
Miller and What’s Next have a few suggestions for the hearty career-changer. They include
- Understanding your priorities and needs. Consider salary, contentment on the job, family needs, what excites you about a new opportunity. All these things will help you make a sound decision.
- Using a tool or taking a test (similar to Bolles advice).
- Telling your story. Look back at your history and consider things like “high points in your career that gave you a jolt of energy and pride. What makes you happy? What do you want more or less of in our life?”
- Call in the Pros. Seek the advice of career counselors or coaches.
- Test the waters. Volunteer at a school or a hospital to see if you like the atmosphere. Take a low-paying job within an industry to see if it meets your expectations in the field.
Another smart way to explore a new career is to take an adult learning class on a subject of interest, to enroll in a basic college class to learn more about a particular subject, or to enroll in a Certificate program. Certificates of completion tell an employer that you have done the basic work to enter a career, and these types of programs, which are often accelerated and cost thousands less than a traditional degree, can provide you with both information and experience. There are all types of careers in the law, medical, dental and paralegal fields, and dozens of other fields which might be a great career path for you.
Most people say they regret the things they didn’t do. Are you in a job or career that isn’t fulfilling your needs or your wants? Maybe a career change is just the thing you are looking for to make a change for the better.