Published on 2013/08/08
Three Steps to Changing Your Career
There are three key considerations an individual must take into account before jumping ship into a new career.

Changing careers. Millions are considering it, and there are millions of things to consider. Where to begin?

What is changing is the world around you. At your core, you are changing very little. Scientists know that by the time you reach adulthood, your brain is wired by your experiences. You are who you are. The first challenge is to match who you are with the new opportunities and make the choice that best fits you.

There are lots of career choices, many with very attractive salaries and growth opportunities. The U.S. Department of Labor lists almost a thousand in America alone.

So, contrary to what some are saying, the problem is not a lack of employment opportunities. What is confusing is, every month, the popular press focuses on the unemployment rate and the net new jobs created in the previous month. Recently, the new jobs number has been around 170,000 per month. But what is more important to the career change decision is the fact that every month, American companies recruit and hire millions of new employees, not merely a few hundred thousand reported as new jobs. This adds up. Over a year’s time, this means there are actually tens of millions of opportunities to find a job in a new field.

The real challenge for the career changer is to decide the key question: “Which of these tens of millions of opportunities do I go after? And even more importantly, how do I decide?”

Here are some suggestions to help guide you onto the right path.

1. Decide What You Want To Do

Think of a career as what you do with your life. The key to making the right choice is to make sure what you do matches with who you are as a person. Many go through life trying to figure out what they want to do “when they grow up.” The career changer has a unique opportunity to link their “doing” with their “being” and, from that, develop purpose and happiness.

Who you are is fixed. You can learn new skills but, in the end, none of us get to fundamentally change who we are as an adult. So the first thing the career changer has to do is find out who they are. In my book, “Your Future is Calling,” I discuss a number of the scientific instruments designed to help career-changers do just that.

2. Understand What Your New Career Entails

Once you have an objective read on who you are, look at good information on the “doing” part of your career choices. Here, again, there is good, objective information available on the specific career choices available. The very comprehensive website O*NET OnLine provides excellent information on a host of critical career factors, including what someone in that career actually does every day. It is just one of many sources you can explore.

3. Discover What You Must Learn to Succeed

The last pieces of the puzzle are to decide on what to learn and where to learn it. There are thousands of education programs at community colleges and four-year institutions to develop the skills you need to qualify for new career opportunities. Once the career that matches who you are is selected, course catalogues, course descriptions and costs are available at college websites. In addition, the Department of Education maintains a comprehensive site of information about college programs and costs on a site called COLLEGENavigator.gov. At this point, the main challenge for you is to select the major and the college that is the best buy for the career chosen.

Conclusion

At the beginning, a career change decision can feel overwhelming … mainly because it is. There are millions of things to consider. The good news is the range of choices narrows quickly when the match between who you are and what you do is made at the beginning. There is still a lot of data to look at and evaluate, but all of that is relatively straightforward with a good road map.

Mike Echols recently wrote “Your Future Is Calling,” a book that helps individuals make sense of their career path and helps them understand what education they need to get where they’re going. This infographic provides a great sense of some of the major changes discussed in Echols’ recent book. To learn more about the book, please click here.

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Readers Comments

Rob Young 2013/08/08 at 8:16 am

My guess is that people have a tough time with #3, identifying the qualifications they need for the career they want. There are so many options out there it’s hard to identify the ones that are legitimate and high quality versus the ones that are disingenuous and exploitative.

Besides College Navigator, are there any other resources you — or anyone in the comments — would recommend to help with this weeding out process?

Kelly Tibbit 2013/08/08 at 2:11 pm

Echols makes a good point about finding something that reflects who you are. Career changers are indeed in a unique position to link their “doing” with their “being.” Sure, they can take a personality test online to help them do this, but what would be more helpful would be specialized support from advisors and the like, who can steer them into something that’s appropriate for them and also achievable.

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