Regardless of what you studied in college or how focused you’ve been on a certain path, you might discover that, in the end, it’s time for switching careers. The thought of such a drastic change can be overwhelming, though, with panic setting in about what the future might hold. Take a deep breath, though, because changing careers isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can be the best decision of your life.
As much anxiety as you may have just thinking about it, actually switching careers can have both short- and long-term benefits, you just need to know the proper plan of action before happily walking away from an area of interest that no longer gets you psyched to get out of bed each morning. If you’re thinking of exploring a new career path, here are a few tips to get started the right way.
It’s pretty easy to fall into a trap of doubt, thinking that your dream job can’t be a reality. You might be stuck in a structured 9-to-6 job now, reporting to an office and receiving a paycheck every two weeks, but, if that security isn’t making you happy or content, look at what you like to do in your free time. Whether it be sports, shopping, art, building, etc., there are always ways that you can earn money from hobbies or things you do for fun. Just don’t forget to research how much you stand to earn with your new career path to see if it will comfortably cover all your expenses.
Once you’ve decided that you’re taking the plunge, switching careers and have figured out the direction, it’s time to compose a brand new resume outlining all relevant experience in that specific field of interest. Take time to write out all of your related skills, projects and education, which will serve as the foundation of your new resume. It might seem a little sparse at first, but you’ll be able to see all the areas you need to build credits, making it easier to focus on where to get the experience.
Yes, working for free sounds awful, but if it’s often the first steps toward a future paycheck in the field that you want to work in. Remember, sometimes you’ve got to take one step back to take two steps forward.
Take a look at your new resume, see what experience you still need and seek out opportunities. This could mean an internship, volunteering on a short-term project or taking an online class to expand your skill set. You might have to give up weekend Netflix binges and hangout time with friends, but when you see your new resume start to grow, the sacrifices you made will be totally worth it.
We all strive to be experts in our career field, but it doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to lean on the experienced people who can help you reach that level. And, to get to that expert point in any industry, it’s all about networking, networking, networking! Undoubtedly, you, or someone close to you,has a contact willing to be your personal Alexa of career advice, who will meet for a coffee and give you a crash course in getting your foot in the door. You can’t expect a work offer to come from these coffee meetings, but the people who see your hunger and enthusiasm will likely refer you when an opportunity does pop up.
In a perfect world, switching careers would be simple, with a seamless paycheck that doesn’t impact your bottom line. Unfortunately, we all know that that’s just not the case. Sometimes, it means taking a leap of faith and quitting your secure job to immerse yourself in starting a new career. This can be scary, but if you prepare, it won’t be as daunting.
Sure, you may have to make a few monetary sacrifices and adjust your personal budget each month, but try to sock away six months of expenses before you call it a day. Take into account the cost of things like insurance, gas/transportation and an emergency fund, when trying to figure out what’s a comfortable lifestyle for yourself. When you have enough to float on while you hustle your way to a happier work life, you’ll breathe easier without the stress of wondering how you’ll scrape by every month.
It can feel discouraging when your choice to switch careers doesn’t fall into place right away. As eager as you are to get to work and start your new career chapter, there will be some tough times filled with no leads, no work and, potentially, no money coming in. But starting over isn’t forever, remember that.
Gambling on yourself is tricky — and it has its pitfalls — but, when you do it, it’s rewarding in the long-term. While times may be difficult immediately after switching careers, just think of where you’ll be in one year, five years or 10 years, because that’s where you’ll see the biggest impact of the decision.
Lead image via Getty
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