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Stop! Ask Yourself These Questions Before Changing Careers

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When you are dissatisfied with your career but not desperate to make a transition, a career change may be a good decision. To make sure you are ready, ask yourself these questions as part of your decision-making process:

  • Am I trying to solve another type of problem by making a change in my career?
  • What is the least amount of change I could make that would satisfy the need that is going unmet?
  • What part of my career needs to change the most?
  • What part of my career can remain the same?
  • What are the payoffs and consequences of leaving my present position, company, or career?
  • Is this a good time in my life and my family’s life to change my career?

Once you have determined that this is indeed a good time to change your career, the next step is to create your criteria. Grab your favorite pen or computer and answer these questions:

  • What is missing from the job you have now?
  • Which life and work values are top priority for you?
  • What strengths and experience do you want to use in your next career?
  • What passions do you bring to this career?
  • What do you NOT want to do?

This probably isn’t a one-time exercise. Keep the questions and your answers handy for a few days or weeks. See if your answers change over time.

When your answers become consistent, move to the next set of questions.

  • Considering your previous answers, list job titles, skills, or tasks that come to mind. These are your initial search terms.
  • Search on those terms on Indeed.com and OnetOnline.gov. Read the job descriptions that pop up. Save the ones that interest you.
  • What do the jobs you save have in common?
  • In what ways are they different?
  • Do you need to narrow your target more?
  • Can you see yourself applying for, interviewing for, landing, and working at these positions?

If the jobs are all of the same type, and you feel certain of your direction, it’s time to move on. Look up the short list of jobs on Salary.com to determine the likely salary range for your new career.
If the salary level fits, keep the following options in mind as you make plans to move forward.

  • Do you need education, certification, or other knowledge or experience for your new career?
  • Is there a way to “try before you buy” through shadowing, volunteering, or networking?
  • Can you find a mentor in your new career, someone willing to show you the ropes?

Preparing yourself for a career change is a time-consuming process. The questions you have answered will help you determine if you are ready to change careers, what direction will fit you best, and set you on the first steps toward making the change.

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