Many workers find themselves doing jobs they do not have a passion for, and some may even be committed to a full-time career they do not enjoy. A mundane job may not inspire you, but you might keep it because you need to support yourself and your family. It may also provide you with more stability than the uncertainty of a career change.
The idea of a career change can be daunting for these reasons and many more. Changing careers is an important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but it is also an instrumental one that could determine your future. A full-time commitment shouldn’t hold you back from reaching your potential. Here is a look at achieving a successful career change as a full-time worker.
Why do people seek a career change?
Changing careers is a very delicate undertaking. There are many reasons an employed individual might want to switch careers. What would make, for example, an office assistant want to become a family nurse practitioner? Learn more about FNPs to understand what the position entails and how people can break into this field.
Here are the top reasons people tend to change professions.
This is the most common reason for a career change, and it makes sense because one of the primary objectives of working is making money. Many employees find it challenging to remain at their place of work when there is a better offer elsewhere.
Many people are familiar with the refrain “The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know”, but this is rarely a go-to principle when changing careers. Despite not knowing the reality of working for a company offering higher pay, many workers are still willing to take that risk as they believe the increased wages will be worth it.
The high rate of pay-induced career changes underscores why employees should be adequately remunerated.
It is almost impossible to be satisfied at a job that is too stressful for you, and unfortunately, job satisfaction can easily affect your personal life. Since workers spend a large chunk of their daily time at work, stress influences other aspects of their lives.
For most people, excessive stress is an undeniable signal to switch careers. Some people may reach a point where they feel that continuing in their job is putting their health at risk. There are different causes of work stress, and some of the most common ones include:
- Pressure to deliver
- Long hours
- Tedious work
Just as there are different causes of stress, individuals also have varying levels of stress that they can withstand. The “straw that breaks the camel’s back” for you might not have the same impact on the next person.
Inadequate work-life balance
Work-life balance is about stabilizing life in and out of work without either one suffering. Different schools of thought believe that being able to strike a good work-life balance improves work performance. This concept brings attention to the fact that excessively focusing on either work or hobbies outside work can harm the other.
While having a fun social life, enjoying your favorite physical activities, and spending time with loved ones is essential, the satisfaction you get from your personal life might lose its appeal when it comes at the expense of your job. Many workers consider switching careers in the rare case of being unable to cut it at work due to the excessive focus on their personal life. More importantly, when the nature of a job makes it difficult for employees to focus on other passions and hobbies outside of work, career change ends up on the table.
It should be noted that what work-life balance encompasses varies significantly depending on age. For most of Generation X, finding a good work-life balance involves striking a healthy balance between work and family. For Millennials, it is usually about balancing work with their social life, especially on social media.
Bureaucracy in decision-making
Even with an established hierarchy, employees like to be carried along. They want to feel like an important part of the organization and not just helpers to high-ranking staff. When workers are not a factor when decisions in a company are made, there is a high chance of dissatisfaction, which often could lead to the desire for a career change.
Individuals tend to gravitate toward where they are valued. This goes beyond the financial aspect and involves workers’ relevance in an organization’s decision-making process.
The desire for a new challenge
The desire for a new challenge can drive individuals who feel they have accomplished what they set out to do in a particular job or those who have discovered a new passion. Many of these workers might even have a good relationship with their colleagues and superiors but feel it’s time to try out new things.
Change can be difficult to resist in your professional life, mainly because individual values change with time. Your job objective at age 25 might not stay the same when you are 30. Sometimes, workers grow in a different direction than an organization.
Steps to achieving a successful career change
Before you jump ship, it is essential to evaluate the options so you do not find yourself on the wrong career path again. Here are vital steps to making a successful career change.
1. Critically examine your current job
Before moving from point A to B, critically examine the former to determine whether it is really worth leaving. With the increasing unemployment rate, leaving a job for no good reason would be unwise.
List your job’s appealing aspects and turn-offs, then weigh both sides. Also, identify the sources of your job dissatisfaction. Is it the nature of the job, your colleagues or your superiors? Find out whether there is any chance of these sources disappearing soon or working out a solution within the company.
2. Evaluate your passion, skills, and values
This is another step that requires self-reflection as you have to examine past projects, works, and tasks to find out where you excel. Determine which ones have brought you the most satisfaction, and check whether your top skills are being used in your current job and if your values align with those of the company.
With proper answers to these questions, it is easy to determine if you are on the right career path and whether you should make a career change. This assessment can also be about how financially compensated you are for your hard work every workday. Establish whether or not you are under-compensated and if there is a chance of that changing.
3. Check out alternative careers
In some cases, these alternative careers come knocking and are perhaps even the trigger for considering a career change. Other times, you have to find a job that adequately meets your needs and work objectives. During this brainstorming, it might be helpful to get a second opinion. This might be from family, friends, or even colleagues who can guide you toward the perfect career path.
There is also the option of using career counselors to help you identify and assess your professional opinions. Career counselors have reliable knowledge of the skills needed to succeed in different fields, salary ranges, and much more.
You can think of them as school counselors for workers. Note that the alternatives do not have to be in the same field as your previous job. The options just have to align with your values, passion, and objectives.
Your research can also include browsing the internet for job options. With a quick Google search, you’ll find multiple job openings. Many opportunities may appear suitable, but the onus is on you to evaluate them comparatively in relation to your values and objectives.
4. Get insider information
After figuring out the field you are turning to, it is important to get insights from experienced professionals. If you do not have personal contacts in those careers, platforms like LinkedIn can help out.
Informational interviews from these contacts can make all the difference as they are reliable sources of information about a job, field, or industry from stakeholders. Getting enough insider information prepares you adequately for the career venture and improves your chances going forward.
5. Give it a trial
No amount of research can give you a perfect picture of what a new career venture entails. This is why you should get practical experience. For example, if the new career path is venturing into the medical world, you can start by volunteering in public healthcare nearby. This would give you hands-on experience with the intricacies of dealing with human life. You might even find some turn-offs that you never envisaged.
Note that the primary objective here is not making a profit but having a grounded knowledge of the career.
6. Improve your qualifications and skills
Your passion for a particular career might not be enough in a competitive industry. As a full-time worker, you might struggle to attend full-time classes and earn a college degree for your new career path. Thankfully, there are a lot of courses that you can take online. Some of these programs are flexible enough to accommodate a full-time job. Therefore, it is possible to retain a job while studying for a different career.
Following a new career path doesn’t necessarily mean moving to a different organization. Switching to a different department within the same organization also counts as a new career path. In some of these cases, the organization may offer in-house training. Take as many courses as possible until you feel knowledgeable enough to make the switch. If you get the timeline of these steps right, you will not have to spend a day unemployed while changing your career.
Beyond improving their knowledge base, individuals seeking a career change should also improve their skills. Beyond the skills specific to the new career path, you should optimize your soft skills. Here are some soft skills that workers should consider strengthening before switching careers:
- Critical thinking
- Time management
- Active listening
- Interpersonal skills
These soft skills are not specific to any career path and can prove useful in any field you pursue.
Benefits of a career change
There’s a lot to gain from a successful career change. Here is a look at three major benefits when you move into your preferred career.
More financial benefits
Economic benefits are a significant reason people switch careers; few individuals move into a job with lower pay. A high salary says a lot about how valuable an employee is to an organization, and when such high-paying opportunities come by, it is easy for individuals to take advantage of them.
There is a high level of satisfaction that comes from following your passion and switching to a more suitable career path. Note that a career change does not necessarily mean less work, but it does mean the job description is likely more suitable. Even when the new job is more tedious, the fact that the organization’s objectives and vision align with yours can be very gratifying.
Other times, the source of satisfaction might be a more friendly work environment with like minds. Depending on your individual values, there are so many different ways a career change can lead to greater job satisfaction, which ultimately brings you more happiness at work.
Better work-life balance
Work-life balance is vital, and many workers seek jobs where they can adequately function both at work and outside work. This is easier to achieve in a less tedious and more satisfying career. Also, from research and reports, workers who can strike a good work-life balance are usually more effective at work than those who are unable to do so.
If you are ready for a career change, don’t let having a full-time job hold you back. Start considering your options and work on a plan to pursue the role of your dreams.