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Considering a career change? Ask yourself these questions first

Dive In
  • Writer's pictureThe CareerBeacon Team

Are you in a funk? Not the good, George Clinton kind of funk, but the bad kind where you feel like your life is going nowhere and you need a change – like a career change?

A career change can be an exciting prospect, but it’s not something to take lightly or do on a whim.

Here are six questions to ask yourself before making the decision to change careers.

Is your job one of those lists of jobs that won’t exist in ten years?

These lists are released regularly. Take a look at them. They’re not written in stone and can be wrong, but they can give you an idea of whether your job is precarious. Or your job may exist, but be harder to come by. Travel agents, for example, I think will always be around but there will be far fewer of them than there are even now, and the job will only be available to the best of the best.

Are you very unhappy in your job?

Or are you actually relatively happy, even though you might think your calling is actually something else? You don’t have to be dancing a jig every day. The idea that you have to love what you do is a bit silly. People have been working jobs they don’t love, in order to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, since time immemorial. But ideally, you shouldn’t hate what you do to the point where you dread getting out of bed.

Have you been stagnating for three years or more?

Have raises and professional advancements been eluding you? If there is momentum in your career, that is a good sign. If there hasn’t been any momentum, this could present a problem and mean you’re stagnating. If that is the case, why is that? Is there room to move forward? Do you want to?

Is it really your career that’s the problem?

Are sure you’re not having a crisis over something else that won’t be fixed by changing jobs? Maybe your career is actually fine and you’re just having a midlife crisis. Maybe it’s really your spouse that you hate or the city you live in. Maybe you just need a new haircut. Assess your whole life, not just your job.

Can you afford to leave your current career?

If you have benefits and a pension and are paying a mortgage and supporting a family, you need to ask yourself if you can afford to make a change. If a new career is going to mean starting over or taking a big cut in pay, your life has to be able to absorb that change.

Do you have a plan?

Have you done your research and put together a comprehensive strategy? Or is this just some half-baked pipe dream that isn’t going to fly in real life?

If you answered “yes” to the majority of the above questions, you might be ready for a career change.

If nothing else, the answer to Question 6, “Do you have a plan?” absolutely must be “yes.” Don’t make a move without one. This involves researching the career you want to move into, and whether the market is a viable one for you. Do you have the skills? Can you afford the required education and/or setup/transition costs? Whatever the job you want to move into is, is it something you’re good at? Is it something you are knowledgeable about? Can you make money at it? Is there a future in it?

A plan also means figuring out whether you can afford to change careers, knowing what you will live on during the transition period, and creating a contingency plan in the event things don’t go as you hope.

Maybe you’re not ready to just jump from one ship and onto another. Maybe you need to start your new career as a side gig. Like, if your plan is to write a bestselling book or become a YouTube star or Instagram model, those are the sorts of things you should probably approach from a place of employment. Just in case.

Don’t leave your job on a whim. Once you do, you might have a very hard time getting back in the game.

Make a plan first. Pursue your dream career second. You’ll be glad you took the time.

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