Many of us like the idea of changing careers. When you are tired of your current job, or if you are concerned that you might be stuck in a dead end, it is tempting to just start over again in a new career.
On top of that, you might be getting vibes that your current employment might be at risk. In today’s economy, there is no such thing as true job security. Most of us will switch jobs multiple times in our lives, so making a career change can make sense, especially if you think your new career will be around for longer.
Many people find that a career change can be just what’s needed to jump start their lives on a better, more fulfilling path — and one that might be more secure in the long term. However, before you take the plunge into a new career, here are five realities to be aware of:
1. Your New Career Might Not Be Any Better
The first thing to realize is that your new career might not be any better than your old career. You may not be interested in the new career as much as you thought you would. If you are just switching because you think you’ll make more money, you might be missing out on some of the passion that can make a career bearable.
Perhaps you haven’t done your research. You might not understand what it takes to get ahead in your new career, and you might be surprised to find that you are low person on the totem pole. If you’ve worked your way up in your old career, it can be tough to have to start over again (or at least start lower than what you’re used to). Your word may not have as much weight, and you may not actually be making more money to start.
Don’t just jump ship without thinking. It’s a good idea to review your goals and interests before you make a decision about a new career. Think about how the new career might fit with your existing interests and talents, and think about whether or not it will truly enhance your life. Plus, choosing a career path that can be expanded from what you already know or are good at can reduce the learning curve.
Different isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just a different type of frustration. If you’re going to make a career switch, it makes sense to be sure it’s what you want.
2. You Probably Need to Develop New Knowledge
A career switch usually means that you need new knowledge. There is usually a learning curve when you switch careers. As a result, it makes sense to take the time to learn something new.
This also includes learning soft skills as well as hard skills. You might need to learn about different technology, or brush up on organizational or presentation skills. It’s not always easy to just jump in and know everything. You may have to attend classes to receive new certifications, or even go back to school and get a new degree.
As part of this knowledge development, you need to understand that you don’t know everything, and that others have valuable things to teach. Some professionals have a hard time with this concept because they are used to understanding the ins and outs associated with their old careers. Be willing to open yourself to new knowledge and be willing to develop the new skills necessary to thrive in your new career.
3. The Learning Curve Can Be Frustrating
It can be fun to learn new things, but the learning curve can be frustrating. Successful professionals are used to having things come easy to them, because they’ve been in their old careers for a long time. Having to deal with a learning curve again can be frustrating.
It’s important not to be discouraged at first. You need to keep pressing forward and working on your skills and knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t forget to keep working at it. This is especially true if you are learning new technology or new systems. Don’t expect to pick everything up immediately.
If you are likely to get frustrated with the learning curve, you might want to reconsider the idea of changing careers.
4. You Still Need to Network
One of the best things you can do for yourself no matter your career path is to network. It becomes especially important when you are starting a new career. This is because building your network provides you with the connections and resources to succeed. You don’t want to forget about your old network connections; you should keep those up to date. But you also need to start fresh, building a new network in your new career. This can be challenging in some cases, but it’s a necessary part of success in a new career field.
Getting to know the people in your new field is an important part of moving forward. More than ever, who you know, and how you know them is vital to your career. You need to know who to talk to, and what they can offer you — as well as what you can offer others.
If you aren’t sure about networking, try attending some events related to your career field. Get to know some of the key people. Also, see how people interact with each other. The way that scientists interact with each other is different from the way financial professionals do. If you are changing careers, you need to observe the niceties and understand what is acceptable in your new work circle.
5. You Might Be “Demoted”
Starting a new career often means starting at the bottom again. You might have a great title and important job responsibilities now, but when you start in a new career, you might need to accept a lower position. You might not have as many responsibilities, and you might not get the same level of pay, either. Be realistic about what to expect from a new position, and be gracious in the way you accept new positions.
Also, accept that you might not be challenged like you thought you would be. Many of us want a fresh challenge, only to discover that a new career doesn’t offer that because you don’t have the responsibilities or authority to make a difference.
Whenever you start a new career, it’s important to understand that you have a lot to learn, and you need to be willing to learn it. Make it a point to be humble and teachable, and do your best to make new connections and learn skills as quickly as possible.