Changing Jobs

The best questions to ask when switching careers

Written by Guest Contributor

When enthusiasm and passion for your career turns to apathy and discontent, it may be time to move on to the next opportunity. There are benefits to a job change—such as leaving your comfort zone, diversifying your skills, and taking a chance on your own ambitions—but it’s also important to consider the risks and determine whether it’s worth the trade-off. This is especially true if you’re switching careers, where you may need to take a demotion or step back, starting in a lower position to make your way back up the latter.

Before jumping into your new career, ask yourself these five questions, all of which will help you figure out exactly what you want and need.

“Do I Need More Opportunity to Grow?”

A common cause of job dissatisfaction is boredom and lack of engagement because your experience or skills are underused. In this case, Fast Company suggests considering whether there’s still room for growth in your current position, or if you’ve “maximized the opportunities for advancement.” To remain engaged, motivated and empowered in a career, you need responsibilities that can help you stretch and progress.

This may be possible in your current position, avoiding the need to switch jobs or careers. Express concerns with your manager and see if there’s a promotion opportunity, or even a chance to step up or lead on a new project. If your current job doesn’t offer the potential for growth, it’s time to seek one that does.    

“Am I Afraid to Do What I Really Want?”

According to a 2016 fears survey, personal failure is the number one fear among Americans. This intense aversion to the idea of failing keeps you stagnant, detached, complacent and timid to make any change that disrupts the status quo—even when it’s a change that could improve your situation long-term, like a new job or career change.

Instead of allowing fear and uncertainty to hold you back, be intentional about gaining both the confidence and courage to bet on yourself. Consider what you really want to do, and whether it’s feasible at this point in your career. In most cases, it is.

Note that it may be helpful to find a mentor and learn how they got started and how your current experience could be valuable in this new career. They’re guidance will allow you to get started on the right foot and set reasonable expectations.

“What Skills Do I Need?”

A lack of formal training or experience in the career you want to pursue doesn’t mean you’re unqualified. Forbes points out that skills honed in your current position may also be transferable to your new role. The key is knowing how to present those skills on your resume to show you’re prepared for this new career or job. Here are a few tips from Resume Genius for making your skills stand out:

  • Quantify when possible. Instead of “Types fast” say “WPM Typist.”
  • Instead of listing “Proficient with Adobe” list the specific tools: “Proficient with Illustrator and Indesign.”
  • List most important skills for position first.
  • Include examples of how you use those skills, if possible.

Finally, consider whether you should list your technical skills at the top or bottom of your resume: “Most job seekers end up choosing a resume template that places their relevant skills closer to the bottom, but for some specific industries listing them at the top is very effective,” explains Resume Genius. These industries include:

  • Information Technology
  • Graphic Design
  • Manufacturing
  • Technical Writing
  • Engineering

“How Can I Meet the Right People?”

Professional contacts in your field of interest can be assets during the transition period, offering recommendations, answering questions, and introducing you to the right companies. If you don’t have these contacts already, the first step in switching careers is finding them by setting up meetings and attending networking events. It may sound like a lot of work, and it can be, but in the end, it’s worth it:

“Finding people who challenge your ideas, push you to be better and give you developmental feedback—the trifecta for success and growth—requires hard work,” notes Ted Rollins, long-time entrepreneur recognized by Inc. 500. “So find events, both networking and otherwise, where you can connect with people who cross geographical, organizational and hierarchical lines, then you’ll be on a path to success.”

“Am I Willing to Start from Scratch?”

Regardless of your current rank in the pecking order, when switching to another industry, it’s often unavoidable that you’ll need to start from the bottom. If this new role requires a degree of expertise outside your wheelhouse, prepare to accept an entry-level position rather than overshooting based on your former credentials. Remind yourself that this will likely be challenging:

“You might be leaving behind a reputation, and sets of skills that you worked hard to build. When you take a risk like that, it can be doubly frustrating when things don’t happen right away, or you don’t get the level of job or salary that you were hoping for. So as you go into it, take a deep breath and understand that there will be challenges,” says Kate Lopaze, another contributor for The Job Network.

Besides, a positive attitude, eagerness to learn and diligent work ethic can help you advance faster than a sense of entitlement and inflated ego.

Is it time to switch careers?

If you feel that a career move would be in your best interest, after considering these questions, then embrace the change and trust in your own abilities to succeed. Form relationships with others who can point you toward actualizing your objectives, use resources like LinkedIn and job posting websites to make yourself visible to recruiters, and continue honing the skills and confidence needed to forge ahead on this next phase of your career.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years, is currently a full-time writer, content marketing consultant and business owner. She’s also no stranger to career changes, having gone through 5 jobs in 5 years. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Manta, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect LinkedIn.


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