Ready for Something New? Define Your Next Career Move with These Tips

Ready for Something New? Define Your Next Career Move with These Tips
The New Year is fast-approaching, and now is the perfect time to take inventory of your goals for the upcoming year. Do you hope to take a family vacation, drop a few pounds, or pay off a car? For many people, the New Year offers the chance to pursue another goal: a career move. The average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times in his or her lifetime so, if you’re thinking about switching careers, you’re not alone! But if you’re still on the fence about the decision, or you’re not sure exactly what career is next for you, fear not. We’re here to help you decide on your next steps. Read on for our tips about making the career move, so you can start 2019 with a bang.

First: Take a Deep Breath

Before making any drastic moves, ask yourself whether your desire to change jobs is simply frustration with a current employer or, worse, your current boss. If you’re not getting along with a supervisor or others at your current job, that certainly isn’t a reason to invest time and money into swapping careers. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is changing jobs simply because you were dissatisfied with a minor element of your current situation. Remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side, and changing jobs is expensive and time-consuming. If you enjoy the industry you’re working in-say, working with kids at a counseling center-but you can’t stand your manager or you’re unhappy with your pay, that’s no reason to start chasing a food science or finance degree. Start by talking to HR at your current employer to see if the issue is easily-fixable. If not, check out job listings for similar roles at other companies.

The Heat is On

If others are pressuring you to change jobs-perhaps a spouse or a parent-take heed. Since many job changes require time spent on education or training, it’s crucial that you want to swap careers, too. Others might mean well with their suggestions to open your own business or switch into corporate finance, but this doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. Ask yourself a few hard questions. When your spouse suggests that you go back to school to be a medical tech, or your mother not-so-subtly asks when you’ll move to a job with a bigger paycheck, how does it make you feel? If you feel energized by the idea and ready to tackle the challenge, then, by all means, push forward. But if these conversations make you feel drained or irritable, it’s time to speak up. Let your family and friends know that you’re thinking long and hard about a possible career move, but the last thing you need is their pressure and opinion on the matter. Plus, if you moved into a new job because a spouse asked you to try it, and then you hate the new gig, everyone will be miserable.

Trust Your Instincts

There are ample resources as you begin to consider the right career move for you. You may consider simple personality tests online, or even reading a few books on the topic. There are even career counselors who can offer advice on your next step. But no matter what the books and quizzes tell you, do a little soul-searching and trust your own instincts. You might evaluate your strengths-are you great working with animals, or do you enjoy compiling your own home budget?-and your interests, too, like building model airplanes. Once you’ve identified your own interests and skills, think larger and try to apply them to a potential job field. For example, working with animals might lead to a career as a vet tech or supervising a humane society. If you love pulling together a home budget, you might make an awesome accountant. And if you enjoy model cars or airplanes, perhaps a mechanic or engineer is the best next step for you.

Seek Trusted Mentors Before a Career Move

While some people might offer uninvited opinions, there are others who we need to seek out! Do you have a trusted mentor-perhaps an old coach or professor-who can give you guidance on your skills? Even if you think you’re a terrible speaker or writer, it’s possible that others have seen strengths in this area that simply need honing. Take a look at your network (past and present) and reach out to a few people who you trust for guidance. Set up coffee or lunch, and let these mentors know that you’re looking to make a move in your career and would love their opinions on what skills they’ve seen in you. The best part of this idea? If and when you need references on a resume, these individuals will be more than happy to provide their information. Always remember to send a thank you note to these individuals, too.

Choose Your Field Wisely

Okay, so you’ve asked yourself some hard questions and you’ve sought guidance from a mentor or two: congratulations! If you want to move forward with the career move, it’s crucial to research your job field of interest before moving forward. While you have the ability to move into any field you desire, you want to be smart about things. Certain job industries are projected to remain solid in coming years, like nursing and accounting. But others, like retail, don’t bode well.  So before you invest time and money into opening that cute new clothing shop, think carefully about whether this is a good option. No matter what field you choose, one thing is true: IT (information technology) and the many sub-industries underneath it, like coding or app development, will be hot for years to come. Even if you choose a field in healthcare or sales, consider that some knowledge around IT will put you at the forefront.

Next Up: Nail the Requirements

So you’ve chosen the field for your next career move. The next step, of course, is to ensure you’ve met the educational, certification, or training requirements of the job. Review job listings online for “prerequisites” or “trade school requirements” to see what education or experience is needed in order to apply. For some careers, like nursing, this might mean an RN degree. For other careers, like HVAC technician, this might mean a technical program or certification. No matter what you’re interested in, do the research to understand the minimum requirements for the job. Consider the cost of education and training, too. There’s no such thing as free schooling, so there will be some cost. But if you’re looking at a $40k Master’s degree in Fine Arts, you might want to think long and hard about whether such an expensive degree is worth it.

Expand Your Network

As soon as you’ve begun your educational requirements, start expanding your network. Make friends with your professors and teachers, join community or industry groups, and start researching local companies that you might be interested in once the job search begins. As the old saying goes, it’s all about “who you know.” Expanding your list of relevant job contacts is just as important as acing your exams, so don’t overlook this. Internships or volunteer opportunities are a great way to meet people, too. Once you’re nearing your graduation or program completion date, start contacting companies in your new job field to ask about “informational interviews.” This is a way for you to ask more about the company and the requirements of the job, without the pressure of a formal job interview. It’s a great way to meet potential future employers, too!

Start Applying!

This is the big moment: you’ve graduated or nailed the certification program, you’ve reached out to local contacts in the industry, and now it’s time to start applying for jobs in your new career. Give yourself a big pat on the back! At this point in the process, the most important thing is for you to shine. If you haven’t already, invest in the proper attire for your job interviews. Ensure your resume is spotless, and ask for a second (and third!) pair of eyes on both your resume and cover letter before you begin to send it out. Be well-prepared for interviews, too. Always bring a notepad, two pens, and at least a dozen questions for the interviewers. Arrive clean-shaven and well-rested, and always send personalized thank you notes to HR and the interviewer once the interview is over.

A New Year Means a New Career!

It’s not an easy step to take, but making a good career move can be one of the best decisions you make for yourself and your family. By following the tips we’ve outlined above, you’re sure to nail the steps needed to successfully change jobs. The New Year is a great time to get started. For more career insight and tips on chasing that dream job, check out the rest of our blog!

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