How To Prepare For A Major Career Change

By Caroline Castrillon | Aug 25, 2020
Caroline Castrillon | ACHNET

Preparing to make a major career change can be like parachuting out of a plane—thrilling but also terrifying. These days though, career transitions are not uncommon. According to a Harris survey, only 14 percentage of U.S. workers believe they have the perfect job and more than half want to change careers. Leaping into unfamiliar career territory requires courage and planning. Yet it seems like many people spend more time planning their vacations than their careers. As Benjamin Franklin said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Here are some tips that will help set you up for success when getting ready for that big career change.

Make sure it’s for the right reasons

Start by determining whether the problem is your career or your workplace. Remember that a career change is very different from a job change. The fact that you can’t stand your cranky micromanaging boss or your coworkers isn’t a good reason to make a major career transition. If you used to like your job in the past, but now you hate it because you have a new manager, chances are you’re not ready for a career overhaul. Know that the grass isn’t always greener. Dig deep within yourself to understand why you crave a career transformation. A significant career change should be born out of a desire for things like fulfillment, happiness, freedom and flexibility among others. Make sure you are running towards something you love and not away from something you hate.

Do your homework

Confirm that your dream career really is what you imagine it to be. Join professional associations and network with your future colleagues. Attend career-specific conferences. Tap into your personal contacts and talk to family, friends and mentors to gather as much information as possible. Learn what opportunities and challenges exist in the new career you are considering through informational interviews. If possible, shadow professionals or better yet volunteer or work part-time in the new field you are contemplating to get a sense of the daily grind. You will also want to understand upcoming trends as well as compensation. If after extensively researching your new career choice it still seems like the right fit for you, you can move on to examining how your current skill set translates to your future profession.

Take an inventory of your skills

Whether you know it or not, chances are you have valuable skills that are transferrable to the new field. For example, if you’ve been working in the corporate world and want to start your own business, you probably have an established reputation, valuable contacts and hiring practice—all of which will serve you well as an entrepreneur. Also, take note of areas where you may be