‘Should I change careers?’ is of course a question only you can answer for yourself, but there are a few things that most people should consider when tackling it. When contemplating a change in career there are five key questions to ask yourself to help answer the big question itself.
1) Is my current career fulfilling me?
With work taking up such a large part of our lives, it is important to be fulfilled in your career. After all, your job can pay as much as it likes but if it doesn’t inspire or stimulate, it’s a long time over the course of a lifetime to be stuck in the office. A truly rewarding career will, to some extent, render money a secondary consideration. Your job could pay as little as it likes, but if it fulfills you, you will feel richly rewarded every single working day.
2) What career am I thinking of changing to?
You shouldn’t want to change careers just to get away from your current one. A change of career should be a positive thing; you should be changing careers because you know what you really want to do, what you’re passionate about. You may think it’s worth keeping your options open, but if you try to pursue too many career change ideas, it is very possible that none of them will come to fruition. Keep focused on one role and you’re more likely to find yourself in it.
3) What skills will I need?
If you’re going for a career change, it’s most probable that you will need to build up your skills, or even acquire completely new ones. It’s a big commitment but if you genuinely want or need to change careers you’ll be willing to invest in yourself. If, however, a new career doesn’t seem like enough of a pay off for investing time and money in skills training then maybe you need reassess how much you really want a change of career.
4) Where do I stand financially?
As said above, money can either be the only good thing about your work or it can be the cherry on top of an already rewarding career. Either way, we all have bills to pay and therefore financial circumstances must be taken into account when considering any type of career transition. If not only your current job but your current career as a whole is not the type to make your particular ends meet, then that’s a valid reason for seeking a career change.
Such pragmatism is particularly understandable if you have dependents or other such financial commitments. On the other hand, if you’re looking to shift to a career that will yield considerably less than you’re earning at present, you obviously have to work out where to cut your cloth and if you have any spare cloth to cut in the first place. Don’t automatically rule out a career change just because it pays less; first work out if you can afford it, and if so, how.
5) Is there help available?
A career change is a not just a career decision, it’s a life decision. Given how important a part of life work is, deciding whether to completely change your worklife is not a decision to take lightly. You’ll involve your life partner, family and others in your decision, even though it’s ultimately yours to make. Although these familiar support networks can be of great value to you when making such a choice, you may also want someone more objective to offer you guidance in answering all of the above questions as well as the Big Question itself: Should I change careers?
No one can answer that question for you, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone.
Autumn St John is the content manager and web editor of Position Ignition, a very personal careers advisory service for professionals. Position Ignition works with individuals through their careers transitions supporting them through to achieving their goals.