“You don’t have to take life the way it comes to you. By
converting your dreams into goals, and your goals into plans, you can
design your life to come to you the way you want it. You can live your
life on purpose, instead of by chance. ~ Whatever it takes” – The Goal
many careers would you say you have had to date? One, two, more? Our
parent’s generation seldom considered changing careers. The career model
for their time was to join a company, work your way up with the help of
promotions and retire with a great pension. At the retirement party
they would hopefully give you a gold watch and a party and you would be
on your way. Changing careers was not even on the radar screen for most
professionals. Today it’s seen as a potential issue if a professional
has not changed careers at least once. By changed careers I mean moving
from one field to another or moving to different positions within a
For instance, programmers may transition to technical leads
and technical leads to project managers or system architects. This is a
fairly standard practice in the developer track of Information
Technology but should be a planned transition if it is to be a
Quite often however, when considering a career
change the responsibilities of the new position are an unknown quantity.
There are several methods currently used by corporations that enable
employees to “try on” a position before making the career change. For
example, you can “shadow” someone who works in the field you wish to
move to thus enabling you to see what a typical day or week is like in
that job. Sometimes you find on closer inspection that the job is
nothing like you thought or the requirements are such that further
education or longer work hours are required. Job shadowing allows you to
experience advance what the job is really like without having to give
up your current position. Indeed, this style of “checking out” a career
first is a good idea if you are not quite sure which position is right
Sometimes additional training is required for the career
move and it behooves the person making the change to do a thorough
investigation prior to executing the investment of time and money. Your
company may be prepared to pay for your training since your improved
skills will benefit you both. In order for the company to remain
competitive in the marketplace they also need staff with up to date
skills. Similarly, benefits like additional training cuts down on
attrition, which can be very costly.
Another alternative is to
seek out a mentor who already works in the field of interest, and spark a
conversation to determine the personality characteristics required for
the position. For example, a developer who is considering moving to call
center work may find that interaction with the public in a customer
service role is not compatible with their personality. Whereas a
continued role in the development area, moving to architect of a
software module for instance more naturally suits their personality and
style of working.
Each individual must find their own motivation
and determine whether the desire to change careers is based on sound
reasoning. Among other things, you need to verify whether you are in the
wrong career or if the motivation to change careers is based solely on
monetary compensation or because something is amiss in your personal
Prior to executing a career change I suggest that you put
together a list of your career expectations. For instance, if you could
have any job you want, what would it be?
Ask yourself these questions:
- What would it provide you with?
- What kind of tasks would you perform?
- What size organization do you want to work in?
- Do you want to be a big fish in a little pond? Or a little fish in a big pond?
- What type of people do you enjoy working with?
- How dynamic of an environment do you like?
- Do you prefer to work on the bleeding edge or the leading edge of the field?
Would you prefer business analysis where you interact with the
functional users, or systems analysis where you remain more technical?
- Would you prefer working with Global systems or local systems?
a list of things you really enjoy about your current career. If you
have difficulty filling the list, it may indeed be time for a career
Put together a list of things you would like to do where
your needs are currently unmet in your current position. Look around
your present company to see what position could provide you with more
job satisfaction. Then go through the process again to see if the job is
what you think it is. I am reminded of the attorney who worked hard to
pass the bar exam, worked his butt off to make partner, then one day
found himself asking “is that all there is?” And, “why am I so unhappy
with this work?” Thousands of dollars later, he and his counselor
realized that he was an attorney because all the men in his family had
been attorneys. What he really wanted to do, was work with children. He
made a drastic career change, began working with children, and found
that he was much happier. While his income was not at the same level as
previously, he experienced a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.
change can be a daunting and yet very rewarding process. Rewarding
because you are challenged and excited about learning and using new
skills and abilities. Daunting because you may have to begin at an
entry-level position and have to work your way back to your present
level of expertise. I remember once when a new hardware platform entered
the marketplace and I wanted to get my hands on that system more that
anything. I took a 25% pay cut to get on the new system and learn it,
but a year later, I had almost doubled my salary. I took the 25% cut in
pay because the skills required for the new system were scarce and the
market was paying premium wages for the new skills.
for sure, if you want to change careers, you must make a plan and work
it. Like anything else, you will need to set goals, do your research and
follow the steps to achievement of your goals. You must:
- Plan your mission. What career do you wish to enter or move to?
- Visualize and articulate your career goal.
- Plan the steps necessary to reach the certifications and skills required.
- Set personal deadlines for achievement of your new career goal.
- Benchmark progress along the way.
that preparation always precedes success. Failure to plan is planning
to fail. According to Tom Peters, today’s employee will go through at
least 3 career changes in their lifetime. Perhaps now is the time for
one of your career changes. One avenue might be, when a new project is
being launched, make sure you get on the team. In today’s world changes
occur rapidly and in order for those you to remain successful you must
constantly upgrade your skills and bring them in line with the new
technology and this new economy.
In summary, to benefit from a
successful career change, your have to set goals, measure your progress
towards those goals, make adjustments as necessary, and work your plan,
to achieve a smooth transition to your new career.
To schedule a complementary 30 minute career change consultation, call 312-953-2126 or use the contact form at this link.