On the job : Don’ts for career changers
Changing careers is never easy. Half the world thinks you’ve lost your mind, head-hunters say you’ll never work again and your mother-in-law contributes the old “I told you so” routine. But for many burned-out, bored or multitalented folks who are sitting on skills they’re not getting a chance to use, changing fields is the only way to keep from losing their marbles.
•Don’t Look for a Job in Another Field Without Some Intense Introspection
Nothing is worse than leaping before you look. Make sure you’re not escaping to a field that fits you just as poorly as your last. Check out these self-assessment articles.
•Don’t Look for “Hot” Fields Unless They’re a Good Fit for You
You wouldn’t try to squeeze into your skinny cousin’s suit, so why try a field because it works for him? People who are trying to help you will come along and do the equivalent of whispering “plastics” in your ear. Instead of jumping at their suggestions, take time to consider your options. Decide what you really want to do. When you enter a field just because it’s hot, burnout isn’t far behind.
•Don’t Go into a Field Because Your Friend Is Doing Well in It
Get thorough information about the fields you’re considering by networking, reading and doing online research. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends or family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.
•Don’t Stick to Possibilities You Already Know About
Stretch your perception of what might work for you. Read some job profiles and explore career fields you learn about from self-assessment exercises.
•Don’t Let Money Be the Deciding Factor
There’s not enough money in the world to make you happy if your job doesn’t suit you. Workplace dissatisfaction and stress is the number-one health problem for working adults. This is particularly true for career changers, who often earn less until they get their sea legs in a different field.
•Don’t Keep Your Dissatisfaction to Yourself or Try to Make the Switch Alone
This is the time to talk to people (probably not your boss just yet). Friends, family and colleagues need to know what’s going on so they can help you tap into that large percentage of jobs that aren’t advertised.
•Don’t Expect to Switch Overnight
A thorough career change usually will take a minimum of six months to pull off, and the time frequently stretches to a year or more.
Changing fields is one of the most invigorating things you can do. It’s like experiencing youth all over again, except with the wisdom of whatever age you are now.