Switching Careers While Working Your Full Time Job

Switching Careers While Working Your Full Time Job

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We already know that the pandemic caused the Great Resignation. When we had time to assess our careers, more workers than usual quit their jobs in search of positions that better aligned with their values. 

Something you might not have heard about the Great Resignation, however? Fifty-three percent of those who quit did so with the intention of switching careers. 

“The Great Resignation is encouraging people to take the time to think about what they are really passionate about and what they want in both a job and employer,” said Karen Gaski of CareerBuilder. 

While severing ties with their current companies may be possible for some, not everyone is comfortable quitting their full-time job while searching for new employment. Perhaps you’re not sure what you want to do, or maybe you’re a senior-level executive hoping to make a lateral move into a different field.

So, how can you focus on switching careers while still keeping your full-time job? 

Consider if you want a job change or a full-scale career change.

If you’re unhappy in your current role, it can be easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. So, before you sever your ties with your current role entirely, decide if you really want to change your field – or if you would be satisfied by simply changing your job. 

“To help you, create a list of what you don’t enjoy about your job and what the opposite of that would be. Could you perhaps find fulfillment in the same position but at a different organization?” said Hallie Crawford and Jennifer Ortiz. 

Identify what you like and don’t like about your current and past jobs.

Make a list of what you liked and didn’t like about your previous jobs if you aren’t sure how you want to pivot. For instance, write out all of the responsibilities you’ve had in all of your past positions. Which tasks energize you, and which ones do you try to avoid? If you find you’re spending too much time on unpleasant tasks, you can start searching for career fields that would let you focus on the tasks that build you up, rather than wear you out.

Don’t limit yourself to jobs that you already know.

There are so many jobs in the world; how can you find a different field if you haven’t heard about it, let alone know anyone in that profession?

Many online tools can help you identify careers you may not have known about that could fit your interest. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections program can help you identify occupations that are projected to have more job openings…You could also check out employee reviews and salary comparisons on Glassdoor or Indeed. Ladders lists vetted jobs where the compensation is at least $100,000,” said Allison Pohle of The Wall Street Journal. 

Interview and shadow colleagues in professions that interest you.

One smart reason to keep your job is because of how much easier it is to connect with colleagues in career fields that interest you. If you’re exploring a new field, for instance, you can search your company’s employee database and tell them you’re interested in learning more about what they do every day. Ask them out for coffee or inquire if you can come to one of their meetings. 

If your colleague’s career does interest you, you could also see about job shadowing them. You may even want to communicate to your boss about your interest in pursuing a new field. 

“One of my previous direct reports raised a hand and asked to shadow a colleague in a different department because she was curious about the field…It was an informal arrangement that made it possible for her to still complete her daily tasks but also dip a toe into new waters,” said career expert Mandi Woodruff.

Decide if you want to pursue a career change at your current company.

One of the most compelling reasons not to quit while you’re pursuing a career change is that you might be able to get hired where you already work. Especially if you like your company – just not the position you’re in – this can be a great strategy.

“Try looking into different departments in your current company to see if there is one that better aligns with your career goals. You could do this by asking to shadow a coworker or sit in on a meeting to get an idea of what their day-to-day looks like,” The Skimm suggests.

To do this, you can – and should – be upfront with your boss and colleagues about your interest in changing careers. Not only can they offer you suggestions, but they may also tell you about upcoming openings at the organization in those fields.

Take courses or complete training that would help you be more successful in your position.

A third reason not to quit your job while searching for a new position is so your current employer can pay for the re-training classes you will likely need to take before pivoting. This can be a great strategy for making a career transition. 

“Once you have a better idea of why you want to change careers and what you want to find, take courses or go to conferences that will help you gain the skills and contacts necessary to land your dream role…You will likely want to do this before you leave your old job to ensure you like the new path you’re embarking on,” said Alicia Adamczyk of CNBC. 

Changing Careers While Keeping Your Job

Maintaining your full-time job while making a career shift can afford you much-needed stability. At the same time, though, you’ll have less time to explore different roles and network than you would if you worked part-time – or quit your job entirely. So, there are pros and cons to both sides. 

Not sure if you should quit your job or tough it out while you’re planning a career shift? One of Ivy Exec’s Career Coaches can give you the advice you’re looking for. 


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