4 mistakes to avoid when making a career change

Job seekers go through a range of emotions when considering a career change. Those emotions include fears of failure, undermined courage, and the emotional torture of rejection. 

Shifting gears in your career at any given point can be extremely daunting especially when you’re unsure of where to go next, or uncertain about what the change can bring. However, you want to remain realistic and open-minded about the good, the bad, and the obstacles that may come your way. 

As a resume writer and career coach, I strategize with clients on a daily basis about career changes. However, there are four common mistakes to avoid when making that leap:

Don’t jump ship because of a bad manager or bad work environment 

Sometimes it’s easier to rule out a career because of one bad manager or one bad work environment. You begin to doubt yourself, your skills, and even the potential for workplace happiness.  However, don’t jump ship based on emotions of how you feel about your boss, your co-workers, or even the company’s culture. 

Make a list of pros and cons about your current career. Identify the challenges you’re facing and create an action plan to work around the challenges. Perhaps that means having a sit-down with your boss or discussing new ideas for more team-building events. The key is to create a workable solution that increases your own happiness without having to make an immediate exit, unless absolutely necessary.

Don’t let money be the deciding factor, but don’t ignore it either

While shifting into a role with higher salary potential may seem alluring, don’t let it be the end-all-be-all in your career change. Sometimes shifting careers may require you to start at the bottom and work your way back up. Additionally, the glitz and glam of that higher salary may have a trade-off with longer hours, less vacation time, and demands for higher work productivity.

Stay abreast on salary ranges for your new career path.  Consider the possibility that changing careers may not necessarily mean salary increases, but instead include salary decreases with a better quality of life.

Don’t trade long-term results for short-term gain

When I consult with career changers, I ask them a series of questions that hinge on their skills, strengths, and experience. Three important questions to ask include:

  • What set of skills do you prefer to utilize in a job role?
  • What type of work do you prefer (working in teams, alone, etc.)?
  • What drives you to be better in your career?

Unhappy career professionals tend to view their skills as positive, but they struggle in finding skills that align with their interests to create a happy balance. Another trap that unhappy career professionals fall into is transitioning into a career to appease their spouse or family members for immediate gratification.

Write down your long-range plans and goals. Is your current career is taking you on that path to the end result? Consider if a career shift will bring you only short-term gain or will bring you long-term results.

Don’t exit without a plan and detailed research

If you’re taking a pay cut by making a career change, you want to be prepared for it.  That may require saving up for a few additional months, conserving expenses, and reducing frivolous spending. If you’re taking a pay increase, be cautiously optimistic about the extra earnings in the event that your new career path doesn’t pan out. 

Remember to research all aspects of that new career, including salary guidelines and any additional training or education you may need. Don’t forget to also review your current finances and do some future forecasting.

Other things you should do before exiting your current career:  research targeted companies in the new industry and connect with key players (senior managers and executives). Don’t be afraid to ask for an informational meeting to learn more about their career trajectories. Seek mentorship and create a pros and cons list. Remember, view the potential career change from all angles.