Choosing a new career is a difficult decision that shouldn’t be made lightly.
But don’t worry – no matter how young or old you are, you can still make a career choice that will make you happy and enhance your life.
Before you make the leap to change your career path, you will want to avoid some common mistakes.
Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Careers
Making a complete career change is a big undertaking that can have huge ramifications in your life if you don’t take the time to think things through. It’s important to avoid making these common mistakes:
- Not having plan: A successful career change can take months when you have a strategy, so without one, you could end up adrift for an even longer period.
- Making decisions based off money: Pursuing a career that you love will make it easier to earn that paycheck.
- Moving too fast: Don’t jump career fields without researching all the possibilities – you might miss your dream career.
- Following the pack: Just because someone you know is successful in a certain career does not mean that you will be – or that you will be happy doing it.
- Being unprepared: You need experience or education for almost all careers. Try to bridge the experience and education gap between your old career and new one.
- Poor job search skills: Review your resume – polish your writing techniques, networking, and interviewing skills.
- Not knowing yourself: Make a list of your strengths in the career field you are considering. List your weaknesses, too, and make sure you overcome those.
Picking the Right Career Path
There are many things that you need to consider when choosing a career field. For some people, finding an exciting job in the right industry is an easy choice. For others, however, a career change decision isn’t easy.
It’s essential that you do your research before you jump head-first down a new career path. Once you have your list of possible jobs narrowed down, you’ll need to look at the requirements it takes to do the job. Are there jobs in this field available in your area? Can you support your family on the expected wages? Will you need more education or training?
A quick way to get started on your ideal career path is through career training programs, which provide you with the education and training you need for the career you want. Here are the career training categories from Auburn University offered through Education Consulting Associates:
Now that you have options open to you, it’s time to really explore making your career change.
What Comes Next?
There are two types of goals you need to set: long-term and short-term. Long term goals can take about three to five years to achieve. Short term goals can be realized within a year or so. List all of your goals, along with the steps you have to take to realize your goals. Having all of this information written down will make it more real and motivate you to achieve those goals and realize success. Begin your career action plan by writing down your educational background and employment history. This will help you determine where you fall short and what goals you need to work on first.
When you are listing previous jobs, start with the most recent one first and work your way back. Include the location of the company, your job title, and the dates you worked at that job.
Then list the schools you’ve attended, the dates you’ve attended them, and the credits, certificates, or degrees you’ve earned. Also list additional training and any professional licenses you hold. You should also list volunteer or other unpaid experience.
Some might say that going through so many steps just to choose a career is wasting time and doesn’t serve any purpose, but nothing could be further from the truth. A well-thought-out career action plan will prove to be a very useful tool.
Saying Goodbye to Your Job
In the business world, it’s important that you remember not to burn any bridges. Try to leave on good terms and be sure to ask for a reference or a letter of recommendation.
Once you’ve decided to leave, you’ll want to put your intentions in writing so that it can go into your personnel file. This lets you tell your boss exactly what your reasons are. This letter should be typed and written in business language.
The standard time frame to give notice is a minimum of two weeks prior to your intended quit date. However, it’s often nice to give your employer as much time as possible to find a replacement for you. If you signed a contract with your employer, check the terms to see if you are required to give notice for a specific time frame.
Don’t tell anyone else at the company until you’ve told your boss. You don’t want the news to leak out before you’re ready, and it’s in poor form for your boss to find out from another person.
Finding and Getting That New Job
Start by looking in your local newspaper as well as papers from the towns surrounding you– especially the Sunday paper.
There are also many websites dedicated to helping job seekers. These sites allow you to post your resume online and to search available jobs all over the country and even all over the world.
Here are some of the more popular sites:
The Cover Letter
A good, solid resume and cover letter will get you an interview, where you will want to shine and stand out from other applicants. How do you do that? Preparation is key. Being prepared for a job interview means knowing about the industry, the employer, and yourself. It means paying attention to details like personal appearance, punctuality, and demeanor.
Prepare for answering questions by researching the industry and employer and by listing some of your traits. Ask former coworkers to list some work-related traits about you that they most admired, as well as some that they found hard to deal with.
Practice how you will answer possible questions in an interview. You want to seem spontaneous, but also appear self-confident.
So what kind of questions can you expect during your job interview?
Usually toward the end of the interview, the person conducting it will ask you if you have any questions. You should have some. Here are some questions you may want to ask of the interviewer:
Don’t ask about salary, benefits, or vacations, as those all imply “what will you, the employer, do for me?” However, the interviewer may ask what salary you hope to earn.
You must prepare for this question before the interview. Find out what others in the same position are earning. Always give a range, not an exact number. You don’t want the employer to think they can’t afford you, but you also don’t want them to think you are a cheap commodity.
There are some questions that the interviewer cannot ask you and you are in no way obligated to answer. Essentially, employers cannot ask questions related to any of the following:
The reason they are considered illegal is because if they base their decision to hire you or not hire you on any of these factors, it is discriminatory which is against federal law.
After The Interview
After the interview, it is essential to follow up with a thank you note. This tells the employer that you value their time, while also bringing you back into their mind.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to come in for a second interview with a different person before a decision is made. If you are chosen for the job, you will get a phone call, during which time you can discuss salary and starting time, or set an appointment to come in and do so. If not, you may receive a rejection letter. But don’t fret – there are other options out there. Just because one business hasn’t hired you doesn’t mean they will all be that way. Just get back on your feet and try again until you find one that fits.
Making a career change can be a scary step, but when you are unhappy with what you are doing, why shouldn’t you try to change? It will take commitment and a little hard work, but it can be done.
The key is to be confident about what you want to do and then go for it! If you need to take some classes to work where you want to work, then do it. The next step is yours. Take it!