Monday, March 15, 2004
What not to do if changing careers
By RANDALL HANSEN
Q: Iím in a dead-end job and feel a real need to make a career change. My employer is reorganizing the department and probably going to offer most people a (severance) package. I see this as my chance to get out and do something different. So what should I do ó and what should I not do? I already have a tentative job offer from an old boss and am thinking of taking it once I get the package. Your advice? -- GLENN
What should you do? If you are seriously thinking of changing careers ó not just jobs or employers ó what you should not do is jump at the first opportunity that comes your way.
One of the most common mistakes career-changers make, especially ones who are being forced to make a change through some sort of corporate restructuring, is to grab hold of the first job offer that comes their way. I donít mean to imply it might be a bad offer, but why not take the time to see what other opportunities are out there, especially if you have a severance package? You need to evaluate whether you want to stay in your current career or make a change.
What are some of the other career change mistakes to avoid?
Making a career change without a plan. A successful career change can often take months to accomplish when you have a strategy ó and even longer without one.
Changing careers because you hate your job. Donít make the mistake of confusing hating your job (or employer) with hating your career.
Making a career change based solely on money/benefits. Certain careers are more financially rewarding than others, but that doesnít mean they are right for you.
Changing careers because of outside pressure.
Q: After graduating from college with a degree in psychology, I got a job at a title insurance company where Iíve been employed for the past three years. I am working on a masterís degree and feel the need to change to a more promising, financially rewarding career. -- DELICIA
Unfortunately, I have no clue what type of job you currently hold, what area your graduate degree is in, nor what your interests and goals are ó besides wanting something financially rewarding. I think most of us ó at least the ones not independently wealthy ó want a financially rewarding career. So, the key is finding one that you are passionate about ... a career and job that will make you excited to head to work every morning.
My best advice is to first sit down and reflect on who you are and what you like doing. Perhaps conduct some research on a number of careers that interest you. Then meet with one or more of the professors in your graduate program (or perhaps even from your undergraduate days) and pick their brains about career options. Finally, once you have narrowed your career choices down, start making a plan for how you will make the change from what you are doing now to your new career.
Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is a career expert who has authored numerous publications on career development and job hunting. He is the owner of Quintessential Careers and an associate professor of marketing at Stetson University. Send career and job questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.