6 Reasons for a Career Change (Plus How to Transition)
There can be many reasons people decide to embark on a career change. Some may desire greater earning potential and job satisfaction, while others want to start a family and pursue part-time employment. Learning about the reasons for a career change can help you decide if a professional transition is right for you. In this article, we offer six reasons for changing careers and provide a step-by-step guide describing how you can transition into a new career successfully.
6 reasons for a career change
Here are six reasons for a career change that you might consider:
1. Higher salary
While earning a higher salary can be attractive to many professionals, sometimes it may only be possible by beginning a new career. For example, a senior teacher may reach the limit of their earning potential. In a situation like this, a professional may believe they have the transferable skills and necessary commitment to change careers and pursue a job that can offer them increased financial security and disposable income.
2. Lifestyle change
Many professionals pursue careers that require long hours and focused dedication. While this might suit the personality type of many individuals, some may decide at varying points in their careers that they desire a lifestyle change. For example, an individual may decide to relocate or change their lifestyle in a major way for health reasons. To achieve this, they might require more flexible hours to make the necessary lifestyle alterations. Given their career choice, this might not be possible, in which case they may embark on a career change that better suits their new lifestyle aspirations.
3. Change in circumstances
Some individuals experience changes in their personal lives that cause them to consider a career change. For example, a person in a senior position might decide to start a family and have children, or perhaps a close family member becomes unwell, requiring the individual to provide care for them. People who experience changes in personal circumstances like these may conclude a demanding profession is no longer feasible or something they desire. Pursuing an alternative career that requires fewer hours and responsibilities might provide a solution, allowing them more time to focus on other priorities.
4. Increase potential
Some professionals may believe their talents are better suited to a more advanced career. This sentiment might arise after a member finds their professional duties consistently easy to complete. Individuals might also feel that they aren't maximising their potential if they recognise their current career provides minimal training or advancement opportunities. Rather than under use their perceived abilities, they may choose to embark on a new career that can offer them greater challenges and foster their skill development.
5. Pursue a passion
Although many people find immense fulfilment in their profession, others may enter a career for expediency, family pressures or simply because it provides a satisfactory salary and benefits. These individuals may arrive at a point in their working life where they wish to change their professional trajectory and pursue a career that can offer them greater happiness and meaning. For example, perhaps they've always wanted to be a photographer, writer, dressmaker or teacher. In situations like this, someone may choose to embark on a radical change and pursue a career they've always been passionate about.
Related: How to Find Your Passion
6. Shift in values
At different stages of life, people may come to a realisation that causes them to question their values. These shifts in values can encourage a person to reconsider their career choice. For example, a weapons engineer might become a pacifist and feel their occupation conflicts with their newfound beliefs. A meat processing operative might become a vegetarian and object to their personal involvement in the meat-packing industry. Individuals who adopt new values and believe their professional choices disagree with the essence of these values can find a career change compelling.
Related: Core Values: Overview and Examples
How to change your career
Here's a step-by-step guide you may find helpful if you're considering a career change:
1. Assess your current situation
Because a career change is a big decision, it's an excellent idea to spend some time assessing your current situation to determine if it's the right for you. This reflection might involve being honest about why you want to change careers and whether it's a financially appropriate time to do so. As you go through this process, consider making a list of questions and writing out your answers. This process can help you organise your thoughts. Here are some questions you might ask:
What are you hoping to accomplish by pursuing a new career?
What sacrifices are you prepared to make to achieve a successful career transition?
Do you possess the necessary experience and skills for your desired career?
2. Conduct research
Once you've decided which career path you want to pursue, consider conducting as much research as you can about your desired sector. For example, you could research the job market, specific available positions and the qualifications and skills you might require. This research can help inform your judgement about whether you still want to embark on a career in this industry.
Attending appropriate networking events can also be highly beneficial during the research stage of your career transition. Networking can provide the opportunity to speak with successful professionals in your desired industry and ask them for advice on getting started in the field and how to succeed. This interaction might help you discover information that you haven't considered. You could also form meaningful contacts with various professionals who are willing to refer you to companies that are searching for entry-level staff.
3. Create a plan
Next, create a comprehensive plan outlining the steps necessary for a successful career transition. Doing this can help you formulate the requirements and determine the ideal timeframe for each step. Some to-do items you might add to your plan might include:
updating your resume and cover letter
giving your employer sufficient resignation notice
enrolling in requisite training courses
attending relevant networking events
preparing for potential job interviews.
4. Prepare for challenges
Although starting a new career can be an exciting prospect, you may encounter challenges. For example, after conducting thorough research on your desired career, you might learn that you have a significant skills gap. You might also discover that your field of interest pays considerably less than you initially anticipated.
An excellent way to prepare for challenges like these is to create a list of all the possible obstacles you can think of, despite whether they're major or minor. From here, you can begin brainstorming feasible solutions. Even though you might not encounter any of the obstacles you identify, taking this preparatory approach can help ensure you're not taken by surprise if you experience any issues during your career transition.
5. Ask for advice
Asking colleagues, contacts or friends for advice, particularly those who have experienced a career change, can be a helpful step in your transition. They might be in a position to offer you meaningful support on how to adjust effectively during this period. They may also mention challenges they experienced that you haven't considered and offer tips for you to implement if you encounter similar situations. You may also find it useful to solicit the advice of a career counsellor, as they're often capable of guiding people in the right direction during a career change.
6. Track your progress
As you progress in your career transition, you may find it useful to track your progress and reassess your goals at various intervals to ensure they're still relevant. This strategy can help you identify the stage you've reached and what actionable steps remain. Consider also rewarding yourself as you complete objectives and significant milestones. Doing so can create positive reinforcement that helps you stay motivated.
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