Yesterday I announced a mini-series that would cover all aspects of making a career change. Today the first installment looks at the first part of the process that involves determining whether or not a change is in order. The USAA Educational Foundation has a checklist to help determine if a change is suitable for you. Check the items that apply to you:
I do not feel satis?ed or challenged in my current role.
My job no longer ?ts my personal goals, suits my skills or matches my basic interests.
My career ambitions cannot be ful?lled at my current company.
I am dissatis?ed with my company’s performance, direction or method of doing business.
I seldom think about my job when not at work.
I would consider a new job at my current salary.
I have fewer important job responsibilities now than a year ago.
I am earning below market rate for my job.
I am dissatis?ed with my income level and future earning potential.
I manage ?nances wisely but remain unable to save with my current salary.
I am working a second job to meet my family’s ?nancial needs.
My work is negatively affecting my health.
I feel stressed or depressed on days off when I think about going back to work.
Individuals I respect suggest that I change jobs.
My work commute is unreasonable.
How many of these did you check? Checking one or two does not automatically mean you are ready for a career change. It may point out areas of dissatisfaction that could be improved in your current situation. If you selected many of the above items it may be time to look into other options.
If a career change looks possible either now or in the future it will take some preparation. You have to understand that generally a new position will not fall into your lap overnight and careful planning will ensure you make the right decision. If you already have a career path in mind be sure to brush up on any skills that may be necessary in this new position. Will it require any formal training or licenses? Research the position and required skills so you can begin the application process with your best foot forward.
The next thing to consider is networking with those in the field you plan on entering. Do you know any friends or relatives in the field or do they have contacts that could help you? Building a network is important so that you aren’t blindly trying to enter a new position. These people can be a great source of job leads and hold a wealth of information in regards to the industry that can make getting your foot in the door easier. If applicable, join industry specific organizations or check with your alumni organization where you went to school to even further broaden your network.
Finally, if you have a spouse or significant other it is important to discuss every aspect of this decision with them. With change comes uncertainty. If one person in the relationship is unprepared for the consequences and changes that are bound to occur it will lead to unnecessary stress and tension making the whole process even more difficult.
Changing jobs is no easy task and the decision can have significant repercussions on all aspects of your life. Take the time to reflect on your current situation and determine the reasons you are seeking change. If the reasons are significant and cannot be improved upon in your current position it may be time to prepare for change. Take extra care in planning for this change and work with individuals who can assist you in this transition.
Tomorrow we will weigh the options and take a look at the financial impact of a change.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.