The days of a “job for life” are behind us. Now, developing a successful career means advancing to more challenging roles in an organization, or seeking out a new business altogether. In this guide we’ll explore the areas you should consider when deciding if it’s time to change careers.
Do You Have a Career Plan?
Businesses are becoming more specialized, which means that positions and skills are getting increasingly niche. If you want to make a success of your career, it might be worth developing a long-term career plan:
- Think about the eventual position that you want to hold.
- Establish the skills, expertise, experience, and qualifications needed for that position.
- Work out the most senior position just prior to the final one you want that will provide those requirements.
- Put those positions into your career plan.
- Continue taking one step back on the career ladder and establishing skills and requirements for the next position up.
- Get to where you are now in your career, and you’ll have a defined path forward.
You certainly don’t need a detailed plan to change careers, but it can help you inform your medium- and long-term job decisions.
How Challenged Are You in Your Job, Right Now?
One of the most common reasons for changing careers is a lack of fulfillment, and that often comes from not being challenged in your current role:
- Work out why you don’t feel fulfilled in your current job, dig into the details about what you specifically don’t like about your role or how you might grow by moving to a new one.
- Understand the type of career challenges that are meaningful to you — is it learning new skills, interacting with people, making strategic decisions, running projects, or something else that inspires you?
- Establish if there are other things you could do, besides changing careers, that would help you meet those needs.
- Talk to your manager about acting up, job swaps, mentoring, or other changes if you don’t want to do something as drastic as changing your career.
Establish What Else You Would Want in Your New Role
There are plenty of factors that may play into your decision to change careers. Explore each of the following areas to establish how things might change in a new role:
- Compensation — how much would you expect to be paid if you move to a new position?
- Benefits — would a new position offer other benefits like more time off, better healthcare or retirement options, or other incentives?
- Work environment — are you seeking specific changes to how you work, your workplace, or the general culture?
- Autonomy — how much autonomy, coaching, guidance, or direction do you want in your new role?
- Flexibility — are there other aspects influencing your choice to change careers, for example working from home, work and life balance, and similar areas?
- Skill development — are there good opportunities to grow your skills in technical, interpersonal, or other areas?
Decide If You Want to Make the Career Switch
Now you know your reasons and desires, it’s time to think about making the switch. Here are some areas to consider when you’re making the final decision:
- Talk to people who are already performing a similar role so you get an insider’s perspective on if it’s right for you.
- Understand how many of this type of role currently exist and opportunities in the job marketplace.
- Establish if you need to take external qualifications or certifications to meet the needs of the role.
- Find out if there’s a path to the role in your organization, or if you would need to change businesses.
This will help you understand if now is the right time to make a career switch. Whatever you decide — they’ll be lucky to have you!