Get Paid to Share Your Expertise
Help shape the future of business through market research studies.See Research Studies
The path to a successful and happy career is not always clear. Expectations and reality often don’t align, and priorities can change as professionals mature within their industry of choice. While some people choose to push forward in pursuit of compounding industry expertise, others see better opportunities ahead by making a more substantial career change.
According to a survey conducted by Zippia, the average age of professionals who make a major career change is 39, and it’s not always about the money. In fact, 58% of people indicated that they would be willing to take a pay cut in order to make a major career change.
A big change in the direction of your career is not a choice that you should take lightly. If you are considering a new path forward, this article will share a few steps to help you decide if a career change makes sense for you.
📊 Conduct an Unbiased Self-Evaluation
The first step in deciding the next move in the trajectory of your career is to conduct a full (and unbiased!) self-evaluation. You should seek to answer the following:
- Have you achieved your personal and professional goals to date?
- What stage of development are you at within your career?
- Do you find job satisfaction in your current role?
Essentially, you want to take stock of your experience, professional development, and future opportunities to understand how you may be able to utilize your entire acumen of skills in a career change.
📊 Consider Your Long-Term Plans
A career change today can have rippling effects throughout your entire life. Before you rush into a major shift in your professional life, try to consider your long-term plans and what you need to get out of your career.
It can be useful to break your goals down into smaller time periods to make it easier to plan:
- 1 Month Goals
- 6 Month Goals
- 1 Year Goals
- 5-Year Goals
- 10-Year Goals
- Retirement Plans
This can provide context to your career path and help you understand the right direction to pursue. It can also help you evaluate if you are just suffering from a mid-career crisis or if you are in need of a major career change.
📊 Review Your Financial Stability
Making a big change to your career comes with financial risk. You need to be sure that you will be financially secure if you make a change to your career. You may need to accept a lower salary, or you may need to endure a period with no earnings if you need to return to school or receive new professional training.
It’s usually advisable to have at least six months’ worth of savings to cover any of your needs in a worst-case scenario.
✅ Investigate Industry Trends & Opportunities
Hold on! Before you quit your job, conduct some research on industry trends and new opportunities to ensure that there is a viable path forward for your career. As with anything, there are often unexpected truths or hidden pitfalls in unknown territories.
It may look appealing from the outside, but without adequate research, you may regret your decision to make a sudden shift in your career.
✅ Understand the Four Pillars of Job Happiness
People seek out new job opportunities for many reasons. It may be high levels of stress, poor financial gain, or other personal reasons that are inspiring you to seek a new direction in your career.
However, most people who are content in their roles are satisfied because their professional lives revolve around four pillars of job happiness:
Ask yourself if your new career path will bring you closer to these elements before you take any action.
✅ Speak to Other Professionals
One of the most effective steps to help you decide if a career change makes sense for you is to speak to other professionals who are already working in that field. They can share deeper insight into a particular industry, the pros, and cons of positions within that industry, as well as their own personal working experience.
You can try to join networking events, reach out to people on LinkedIn, or request information interviews with interesting companies to find out more information. Insider perspectives will provide you with greater context for what the day-to-day might be like and help you ground what may be a more romantic vision of the next step in your career.