What To Consider Before Changing Career Paths

Posted by Calling All Optimists on Mar 3, 2020

The inevitable happened: you hit a rut at work. You’re questioning everything: your role, your passion, even your entire career. You start thinking about other career paths and consider making the switch. But the entire time you aren’t quite sure whether a career change is the right decision or not. How do you know for sure? Make sure you’ve answered these questions before jumping ship: 


What’s the actual problem?

You’re not happy with your current job or you wouldn’t be considering a change. But do you know why you’re unhappy? You need to know the real reason to determine whether you simply need to switch companies or change your entire career path.

  • Signs you need to switch companies: Your workplace can color everything about your career and personal life. If you’re experiencing things like challenging colleagues, a poor relationship with your boss, no recognition, and lack of growth opportunities, you might just need to find a new workplace. If what initially drew you to this career path still interests you, make sure you’re not throwing it away over one bad work situation.
  • Signs you need to switch your career: Sometimes you change, and your career path stays the same. If you want new challenges, you’re disinterested in things about your career that used to interest you, your values have changed, or you have an intense desire to learn something different, you might need a new career path.

Have you done your homework? 

Just because you have set your sights on a different career path doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. After all, the grass is always greener in other careers when you are struggling with yours. Before making any decision, do your homework by assessing yourself and the potential career path.

  • Self-assessment: There’s always more self-learning to do! Take assessments like Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, or My Career Industry Fit quiz. Ask trusted coworkers and mentors about your professional strengths and weaknesses are. Brainstorm what you want out of a career versus not. Journal your success stories to figure out exactly what makes you proud and passionate. The better you know yourself, the easier it will be to know whether or not a career change is the right move.
  • Career assessment: Immerse yourself in information about a potential career path as much as possible before making a decision. Talk to people in the field about their experiences. Read related articles to learn as much as you can about the industry. Go to industry events to try the career on for size.

Do you know what you’re getting into?

Now you know why you’re considering a career change. Check. You have a better idea of what you want. Check. You know the career path actually interests you. Check. But do you know what you’re getting into? Even if the career change is a small one, some things are bound to be drastically different. Make sure you’ve considered the following:

  • Skills: Be realistic about the amount of growth you need to do to break into a new career field. What skills can you carry over? Do you need new ones? Would a Master’s degree or certification help you stand out? Analyzing job descriptions will help determine what skills you need to build and education might be essential to your success.
  • Salary: Speaking of salary, know whether your paycheck is taking a hit. Comb through some industry reports and get a sense of whether the potential salary is realistic for your lifestyle.
  • Seniority: This one is hard for some people. It’s very unlikely you’re going to enter a new industry at the same level you are now. Your status might dip, and you’ll be playing catch up alongside younger colleagues. Think of ways to brand yourself and promote your strengths so you are not starting from the bottom.
  • Planning: Finally, people who have successfully changed careers usually take 11 months to plan the switch. Changing careers will take time, but planning will help you smooth that transition.

There is no easy answer about whether or not to make a career change. Remember that a career path is a journey unique to you, and there’s no shame in making a major change or two. Take the time to answer these questions, trust your gut, and do what you have to do to be happy.

If you are ready to start planning your future, check out our career planning guide.