Knowing if this is the right time for a career change is a lot to consider. And I’ve seen how the question can overwhelm the array of my coaching clients from senior executives with stock options to contract workers. So, as I do when coaching one-to-one, I’m here to give you the tools to fast-track your exploration and have the confidence to take action.
identify the impulse for change
In order to explore the appropriate time frame to make a successful career change, it’s vital to get in touch with your motivation for change. Whatever your reasons and whether you’re considering this question currently employed or not, it’s time to take inventory.
Make a list of your most important priorities. A typical list might include:
enjoying and being challenged by the actual day-to-day work
alignment with company culture and core mission
feeling valued by supervisors and peers
opportunity for career development and advancement
being able to make an impact for the greater good
the flexibility of a hybrid or remote work arrangement
ability to have enough time away from work
Now, rank them.
If you have a job while reading this, consider how many of these priorities are being met at your current workplace. And if they’re not being met, which ones have started to become deal-breakers. If you’re actively looking for a job after losing one, reflect on how many of these priorities are achievable in the field or role you’ve been in.
assess the feasibility of a career move
It’s essential to know the basics of what your career change will entail, ahead of time. Here are questions to ask:
Do a thorough accounting process, so you know you’ll be able to make it through to your end goal.
Will your career move require retraining? And if so, how much will it cost?
Will there be a gap between your pay? How long would that be viable?
Do you have an emergency fund?
If you’re wondering about a career move into another profession, your work experience might not appear competitive enough to an unknown recruiter looking at your qualifications. So it will be key to find people who can help open doors. Take an inventory as to who in your network will be able to make introductions. My motto is, ‘it’s not who you know, but who you can know.’ But you have to be willing to reach out to find these connections. And similarly, if you’re leaning toward starting your own business, you should consider:
Do you have access to possible investors?
Or are you willing to create and follow a networking trail to find those who do?
test your idea before making the leap
As much as I’m encouraging when clients come to me about making a career move, I also want to help them mitigate their risk. So learn as much as you can, in advance. A good place to start is talking with others who are doing the work you want to be doing.
If it’s possible to shadow someone during their work day, that’s a great way to gather information. There are professions where there might be volunteer opportunities so you can sample what the work is like before making a larger commitment. And though it’s never possible to eliminate the risk completely, all these acts of exploration will help to understand if you’re on the right career path.
should i quit my job before finding a new one?
There are multiple reasons for the adage, ‘it’s easier to get a job when you have one.’ The optics of having something current on your resume is reassuring to employers. The financial pressure of being without a paycheck can lead to hasty decisions. And networking while employed is just a lot less fraught, both for you and the person to whom you’re reaching out.
take a step
The way to counter the overwhelm of career change is to break the larger, amorphous goal into small, achievable steps. Collaborating one-to-one with a coach, with whom you can brainstorm—and who will hold you accountable—will fast-track the process. But if that’s not possible, find a an accountability partner or group. Whether that first step is taking an inventory of priorities, or talking with someone who’s doing what you want to done next, the most important thing you can do is start today!