At this time of year, when people are just returning to work after a break from the office, many begin to contemplate the thought of another year passing by in the same job.
But before you rashly start firing out your résumé, it’s important to give due consideration to such a move. Is it your job you don’t like, or your career? Could you make a change at your current employer or do need to move on entirely?
Here we look at some questions and considerations for those thinking of changing careers in 2013.
Why are you considering a change?
Is this desire simply a dose of the winter blues, or is it really time for a change? You should ask yourself carefully why you are considering leaving your current employment. If you’re going to change jobs in a difficult job market, you want to be especially sure that you are making the right decision by identifying the true reasons behind your feelings. Is it that you’ve worked there a long time and have learned all you can? Do you not feel valued by your employer? Has your role evolved as a result of a restructuring or changing business priorities? Are you having conflicts with colleagues or management? Have you missed out on promotions and feel your opportunities are limited? Is there a different job that you feel would be more satisfying?
What do you want from a career?
Once you know why you want to leave your job, you can then ask yourself what it is you want to get from your working life. Once you know this, you may in fact realize that you can achieve the change while staying with your current employer, perhaps by moving to part-time work or asking to transfer to other areas of the business.
You have to identify how you like to work and what your core values are. For example, is it important that you do good work, that your efforts are recognized, or that you gain status and importance? As for the work itself, do you prefer less paperwork and administration? Do you prefer to work as part of a big team, a small team or on your own? Do you want to travel, work from home or have flexible hours? All of these questions will lead you to a better understanding of what you should be trying to negotiate in your current role, or what you should be looking for in your next one.
Michael Woodward, an organizational psychologist and author of The You Plan, encourages job seekers to take the time to examine these factors. “Diving in head-first without looking is likely what landed you in the situation you are currently in,” he warns.
What are your skills?
Whatever job you might want, it’s crucial you have the skills to do it – so take stock of what you have to offer your next employer. Even if your new career is a total departure from your previous job, there is likely to be some crossover of skills. Consider what you already have direct experience with, and which skills could be transferable to a new career. Do you have organizational abilities, people skills, management experience, project management skills or a talent for getting new initiatives going? These are all examples of transferable skills.
Do your research
After establishing a clear idea of what you’d like from a new career, you need to gather more information before you are ready to apply. Look into what jobs are currently available in the sector, determine what experience you’ll need and find out whether the salary is going to be enough to live on. Will you need any extra training before you are employable? Can you speak to any people currently doing this kind of work?
If you know you want a change but don’t know what kind, recruitment firms or career coaches can help. If you have given thought to the questions suggested, this will stand you in good stead as you will be able to articulate what you are looking for and what you can bring to a new role.
Andy Teach is the author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time and also a corporate veteran. “You’ve got to do your homework and do it slowly,” he says. “Making a career change is a life-changing event and it’s not a decision to be made lightly.”
The bottom line
Changing careers is a big step, and while you can never guarantee you'll find your dream job, you can certainly increase the chances. Taking stock of your current situation and critically examining what is important to you will ensure that your values are aligned with your potential new line of work. So take your time, think, and research thoroughly before you take the leap.