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3 Tips If You're Planning a Career Change

AJ Smith

Making a job move can be scary and switching careers can be terrifying. If you’ve already established yourself in one industry but find you are not as financially rewarded or personally satisfied as you would like, a big change could be in order. Here are some tips on switching careers.

1. Do Some Digging

You may know you aren’t happy with your current role, but remember that the grass isn’t always greener. It might be, but don’t just assume it is. Instead, do some research.

Start with yourself. What is it you enjoy about your current job and what do you dread doing? What are you good at and what skills have you learned from your current career that you can carry into another one? Once you’ve answered these questions, you might have some ideas on what career you want to move into next.

Now gather as much information as you can about that career. Read some industry blogs or books. Seek out people you know in that career and ask them if they have time for a quick conversation. Either over the phone or in person try to ask them for as much information as you can about what it’s like to do their job on a daily basis.

Ask for referrals from relatives and friends to others in that business. You are learning and at the same time building your network.

2. Prepare Yourself

Once you’ve learned as much as you can about the career you want to pursue and determined it is a good fit for you, it’s time to make yourself a good fit for it. Chances are you already have many of the skills you need. But you need to determine how you can explain the ways those skills will translate to the new career.

You may need to do a little more for careers that require a special degree or certification. This may mean going back to school on a part- or full-time basis.  This can be a costly step so it’s important to look carefully at how this will affect your finances.

3. Have a Plan

Now that you are armed with information you need to switch careers, it’s time to make your move. It’s a good idea to have a plan for the transition.

For example, you may want to spend some time building up your emergency fund before leaving your current job. Transitioning to a new career may mean having to take a pay cut in the beginning, and the extra cushion can help you in the meantime. Otherwise, you may be going into debt during your unemployment, which can have a larger effect on your credit score than you may expect. (If you want to see where your credit currently stands, you can check two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

You may want to start a part-time internship or job while you are still working full time to get your feet wet. Or you may want to get that added degree or certification at night or on weekends before quitting.

It’s important to discuss a potential career change with family and close friends so you have a support system in place. If, after preparing yourself, you still feel strongly this is the time to take a leap of faith, make the first step to set your plan in motion!

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