6 mistakes to avoid when making a career change

If you’re concerned about job security, a career change to a whole new industry could seem tempting.

But before you leave a job to make a swift move to a new industry, there are six potential pitfalls to consider. Leah Lambart, career coach at Relaunch Me, gives her insights.

  1. Making a rash decision
    Before you hand in your resignation, map out a plan and some goals. “Don’t rush into a career change without taking the time to do some self-assessment and get a sense of what other careers would be your best fit,” Lambart says.

    Take a look at your own skills, interests and values. You can find career and personality quizzes online, or it could be worth seeing a career coach to determine career paths that suit you.

    Make time to speak to people in any industry you’re eyeing to see if it’s right for you. “There is no use going back to study only to find yourself in the same situation, or worse, a few years down the track,” Lambart says
  2. Changing careers because you dislike your current job
    Are there other issues at play making you unhappy in your work? If so, it’s possible that a career change isn’t the best or only solution. Before rushing into anything, reflect on your situation to see if a career change is really needed, Lambart says.

    “In many cases, people are unhappy at work for reasons that don’t require a career change, such as a clash of personalities, a boss who is micromanaging, a long commute that is exhausting, or a job where the work has become dull or repetitive.”

    Rather than jumping ship, there could be small changes that make a huge difference to your happiness in your job. Perhaps it’s talking to your boss about having more autonomy, finding new projects for variety, or finding ways to resolve a clash with someone.

    You might also benefit from a sideways career move: doing the same role in a different organisation or industry
  3. Changing careers without research or self-reflection
    Careers take time and effort to establish, so it’s worth putting in time to make sure a change is right, too. “Changing careers is not something to embark on without doing the research,” Lambart says.

    Start with online research, then try to speak to people in those fields about what the work is like. “By undertaking informational interviews with people working in the field you will get a warts-and-all view of what the job or industry really involves. These insights from people in the industry will ensure you are making an informed choice.”
  4. Changing careers for the money
    Income is of course important, but try not to make your decision based on the highest pay. “Everyone has different values, and money is often not a consideration at all for some people,” Lambart says. “I have worked with many clients who are making a lot of money but who are still miserable because their other values are not being met.”

    Ideally, a new role should match your interests, values, and strengths, she says. “To achieve that ‘career sweet spot’ you need to be energised by what you’re doing, it needs to come naturally, it needs to meet your values and it needs to allow you to live the lifestyle that you want.”
  5. Being overly influenced by others
    Friends, family, colleagues and people in industries you’re interested in can be great sources of information or encouragement, so talking to them is important.

    Be mindful, though, that family and friends may not understand why you feel the need for a career change. “Often to outsiders we have the perfect job, particularly if you have worked hard to achieve a career with status and a high income,” Lambart says.

    Even when family and friends are well-meaning, try not to be too influenced by them. “Be true to yourself and take the time to really understand what a great career means to you,” Lambart says. 
  6. Not adjusting your approach
    Before you apply for new roles in different fields, update your resume and online profiles, Lambart says. Add or highlight your transferable skills, relevant training and experience, so a future employer can see your ability to do the job without specific experience.

    “Include a key skills section on the front page of your resume that is tailored to the role that you’re applying to,” Lambart says. “This makes it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to match you to a role.”

Change can be exciting, but a truly rewarding career change takes some planning and preparation first. That way, you can push forward with a clearer idea that you’re headed in the right direction.

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