Change can be a scary thing no matter what aspect of your life it affects. When that change involves a career with so many other things riding on its success it can seem overwhelming. Statistics show people will make a career change five to seven times in their lifetime. For many women, career changes have been life changing...in a phenomenal way. There are inspiring success stories from the CEO of Avon Products and Hewlett Packard. Both of these women made major career leaps only to land in places they could have never dreamed.
How do you know when it’s time to change jobs? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person stays in a job just over four years. That time period is not universal as everyone’s lives are different. But, there are some tell-tale signs a career change is needed that ring true across the board.
Research shows before people decide to switch careers they feel as though they’ve plateaued in their current role or feel their skills are undervalued. Another red flag is when you’re unhappy every morning and constantly dread going to work. Everyone has their days here and there, but if this feeling starts making you feel depressed and affects your health then a career change may be a good idea.
Many people also take the work-life balance into consideration when making a career change. When that balance is always tipping in one direction, a majority tend to explore other options such as jobs with more flexible schedules. Bloomberg recently reported that 44% of baby boomers made a career change to achieve more work-life balance. That number is on the rise with 76% of millennials who say they’ve switched careers for the same reason.
Before hopping the next train out of your current job, you need to do your homework if you want to be successful. Here’s a quick checklist to make the change without losing your mind in the process.
1. It’s All About the Skills. If there’s a specific role you’re seeking look into the skillset people currently doing that job have. Determine if you have those skills. If you don’t, figure out how to get them. This could mean re-educating yourself. Whether it’s going back to school traditionally to take classes or taking those classes online, be open to learning. Don’t think you’re “too old” to go back to school. More and more adults are going back to college. Research shows more than eight million students enrolled in higher education or over the age of 25.
2. Don’t Jump Before You’re Ready. Before you make a complete 180 on your career be sure you’re ready. That means knowing what you want to do before you quit your current role. If you fail to do so you could end up making a huge mistake you’ll regret.
3. Network. If you have questions about the new field you’re looking into or want to find out how to get into it, don’t be afraid to network. Online communities like LinkedIn can be a great resource. You’d be surprised at who may know who. Everyone has their “six degrees”. You just need to make the right connections.
4. Get Financially Ready. While you’re in the process of making your career change, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be receiving a steady pay check. In order to prepare consider having six months of living expenses saved. This way you won’t have to stress when that check doesn’t come every week. You will also have to cut your expenses. This may mean cooking more at home rather than going out to eat. Whatever the case, be ready to make the sacrifice.
5. Seek Support. Be sure to talk over your career change with your family. Their support will influence your success. You will need to focus attention on switching jobs which could result in less time at home until things settle. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to doing things around the house or taking care of the kids. Explain to your family why you’re doing what you’re doing and how everyone will benefit in the end. It’s also a great time to phone a friend for a favor or two if you have limited family around you. A happy mother means a happy home. Job stress can have harmful emotional and health effects. Reducing job stress will have a positive impact all around.
Having a roadmap to navigate you through a career change can help make the process easier. The key is to be patient and realize a career change doesn’t happen overnight. Work towards it and give it time. Sometimes the only thing holding you back is yourself.