Sometimes life takes an unexpected twist or turn, and you find yourself changing careers. In fact, among millennials, changing jobs is more common than ever. So, if you’re one of the millions of people that decide to switch it up, you know you’re in good company.
Still, you’re probably hoping for concrete advice on what you can do for the impending change. While the specifics will depend on factors like your current career, the career you’re switching into, and the financial factors involved, there are some general bits of advice that are important for any career-switcher to be aware of.
We’ve put together 5 tips that can help you navigate your changing passions with a little less trouble. Remember: it’s bound to be a bumpy ride, but with the right mindset and a little savvy, you’ll find yourself happily engaged with your new career in no time.
Take some time to discover your passion
We’ll start off with some advice for those who are considering a career switch — or know they’re in need of one — but haven’t figured out exactly where you want to go yet. Often, people leave careers because they find their current line of work stressful, frustrating, boring, or simply not rewarding enough. Especially among the younger generations, finding work that you can feel passionate about has become highly important.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you explore the wide world of careers in hopes of finding something that will fill you with passion:
- What do I dislike about my current career? What do I like about it?
- Is there something else in my life that’s causing me unhappiness, or do I truly want to leave my current line of work?
- What does my absolute dream job fantasy look like?
- After answering question 3, follow up with: what would a more realistic version of that look like?
- What skills do I have to offer? What skills would I be comfortable taking time to develop?
- What is my financial plan for leaving my current job?
- How much money am I comfortable making in the new job?
You don’t have to have the answers to these questions right away. The important part is that you sit with them for a while and try to figure out your general approach to each one before making the leap.
Learn about the growth opportunities in your new area
Once you’ve figured out what area you hope to move your career to, it’s time to learn everything you can about it. Many people pick their first careers when they are young, fresh out of college or trade school, and might not know exactly what they want long-term.
Once you’ve spent some time in the working world, you have the benefit of that experience to learn from, and you can make smarter choices about your career based on the long-term growth opportunities that might be available to you.
That means that, as you explore your new career options, you should take the time to think carefully about what doors you’re opening for yourself. Ask yourself where you hope to see yourself in 5 years, and what possibilities for growth there are in your new industry: maybe that means working toward a management position, getting trained on high-tech tax software, becoming the principal at your new school, or getting certified as a nurse — the options depend on the industry you enter.
Knowing this information is beneficial because it allows you to plan ahead, and start making the moves now that you know you’ll need to get where you’re going later. As a bonus, if you know where you want to go and are serious about it, that will certainly shine through during the interview process: something that will definitely set you apart from other candidates.
Find a mentor or experienced colleague
Transitions are difficult to manage alone, especially when you’re entering a career area that you’re not familiar with. Having a mentor or experienced colleague who is already familiar with the lay of the land and the relevant skill sets in the industry can make a huge difference.
While online mentoring services do exist and can be a good option if you’re not sure where to start, it’s usually a good idea to reach out to key connections and see whether you know anyone organically who is willing to coach you on your new career. Attending career fairs and industry workshops can be a great way to spark these connections, too, as well as make good impressions on possible hiring managers.
Adjust your expectations
Something that happens to many people who change careers is that they expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows when they land that first job in the new industry. That might be possible in some cases, but in the majority of circumstances, it’s important to remember that a job is still a job. Even if your new industry is much, much better than the old one, it’s still likely there will be aspects of your work you don’t love.
And that’s totally okay. Learning how to navigate the trickier aspects of your new industry, along with difficult coworkers and bosses, is just part of the game. And, in time, you’ll learn the ropes well enough to navigate without worrying too much about it.
It’s also a good idea to adjust your career advancement expectations. If you’re entering a new line of work later in life, it can feel like a setback. Remember that it’s not a race: what matters most is that you’re somewhere that you feel happy and comfortable, and that you can make ends meet while still enjoying your work. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.
Remember to stay optimistic and keep an open mind
Leaving behind a career you didn’t enjoy is a joyful experience for some. However, for others, it can cause a lot of confusion and frustration. Every line of industry has its own quirks and traditions, and learning those new things will be a part of your career transition. So, it’s important not to let your frustration with your old job get in the way of your focus on the new one.
Staying optimistic and open-minded, ready to learn from peers and engage positively with your new industry, is one of the most important changes you can make to prepare yourself for your new career. It might not be everything you ever dreamed of right away, but with the right mindset, you can make it a dream come true for you.
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is the managing editor for 365 Business Tips as well as runs a personal blog, Mixed Bits Media. She lives in San Diego, California, and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.