Just Before You Make a Career Transition

With the rapidly changing shape of work and life, it is no longer news that the average person will have a minimum of three careers in their life time. Making the right move at the right time and for the right reasons will go a long way to bring fulfillment and satisfaction to you. Therefore, it is important that you engage in a carefully thought out analysis of the various options whenever you are trying to make a shift in your career focus. The following considerations should always guide you in your quest.

How prepared are you? Most people make decisions in order to be in tune with popular demand. Because the economy is in bad shape and particular professions have been badly hit, is not an excuse to decide you want a career shift. Having come this far in your career, any change you are planning to make should be deliberate and purposeful. You must be convinced that it is something you will be happy with in the long run. You must transcend the bandwagon effect and ask the question of whether you are set to make the change from your present career.

Take an inventory of your current skills. Having decided on the need to cross over, the next thing to immediately do is to take inventory of your current skills, knowledge and experience and then see the gap that exist between them and your desired career. Then, start listing the various skills, knowledge and experience you need to bridge the gap. Seek out and talk to people in your would-be career to guide you through the process.

Develop a parallel career before switching over. Career experts will never fail to advise aspiring career changers on the importance of building a parallel career before making the actual shift. You can do this by seeking out volunteer, temporary or internship positions in your new career field before quitting your current job and searching for a full-time position in your new career field. This step is crucial because it acquaints you with your new area and gives some assurance to your would-be employer that you will be trainable, since you already have the basics.

Consider your passion. If you are like most people, your first job after college must have been a child of necessity. You probably found yourself on that job, not because it was what you actually wanted but because you had limited choices when you were making the decision. It may have been possible that you had not clarified your career goals and determined what you actually want out of life when you made that first decision. Now that you have an idea of your passion and vision in life, do not decide on the next move without bringing them into the picture. When the chips are down and the going gets tough, it is your love for what you do that will sustain you.

Go for a functional rather than a chronological resume. When you are changing career, it pays to emphasize more on the skills, qualifications and certifications you have acquired, relevant to your new career, instead of detailing your previous work experience, which in most cases has little or no relevance to your desired career. As much as possible you will need to talk less about previous experience and blow up your other relevant assets.

You can talk to a career counselor or an HR expert to help you build a functional resume. It is your greatest tool in your career shift campaign.

Never decide on changing career for monetary reasons. I interviewed a friend who was contemplating a radical career change from the banking industry to the medical profession as a physical therapist. My first question to him was: what is your motivation for wanting to make this total switch? Certain careers are very enticing because of the material gains they offer, but be very careful of switching careers because of all the enticing benefits. Remember that you may make more money, but if you hate your new career, you will probably be spending that money on stress- and health-related expenses. A career that is hot today could be gone tomorrow, so dig deeper.

The Author is a Business Psychologist, a Career Coach and a Life-span Development Consultant. He currently researches into the mind and brain and how they can be used to maximize our potential for unlimited achievement.