By Randi Bussin
Career reinvention can be a complicated and lengthy process, especially if you are unprepared. Before you begin your career reinvention, consider these commonly made mistakes and how to solve them. Avoiding these potential pitfalls may help make your reinvention as smooth and successful as possible.
1. Quitting your job without having a plan.
A successful career reinvention can take months, even with a clearly defined strategy. Without planning, you may find yourself in limbo for a significantly longer period. Don’t make the leap until you have precisely determined what steps you are going to take to change careers and how long you expect to be without a paycheck.
Solution: Create a strategic plan for your reinvention by identifying possible career alternatives, based on a period of self-reflection. Then develop a detailed action plan outlining topics as diverse as additional training or education, finances necessary for the transition, and career marketing documents required to facilitate the reinvention.
2. Engaging in a reinvention without taking the time to self-reflect.
Deciding on a new career path without self-exploration is a fundamental mistake. Just because a job sounds as if it might be a good fit doesn’t mean that it will be. Certainly, don’t quit your job or invest time and money into further training until you are sure this is the career for you. In order to do that, you must first identify your real interests, motivated skills, the rewards you desire from this work, as well as your behavioral style. It is hard to find employment you are passionate about without first determining what makes you tick.
Solution: A period of self-reflection is the best way to identify your specific values, skills, interests, and career likes and dislikes. You can start this process by identifying the work activities you like doing and also those you never want to do again. Also consider taking career-focused assessments, which will help you explore each of the above self-reflection parameters. The more information you gather about yourself, the more accurate you will be in selecting the right career.
3. Making a career change just because you hate your current job.
Don’t confuse hating your current job with hating your career or occupation. There are many factors that factor into job satisfaction, so try not to assume that your career path is the problem when it may simply be a case of a bad work culture within your position and company.
Solution: Take a step back and analyze what it is about your current situation makes you unhappy. Determine whether your unhappiness is related to your current job (boss, co-workers, policies) that you hate, or whether it’s the general skills and work that you dislike. It is possible that a simple “tweak” can make the world of difference. This could mean switching departments and functions within your company, or still staying in your industry but finding another firm to work for. You may not have to completely jump ship and do a radical career reinvention.
4. Attempting to reinvent without help.
Career reinvention is a challenging and lengthy process that requires a variety of resources and support. Don’t limit yourself to the network of people you already have established. You would be putting yourself at a disadvantage by trying to break into a new career without insight from industry insiders.
Solution: Build new connections with individuals and mentors within the occupation or field you wish to enter. You can do this through informational interviews or by joining industry associations. Once you have established these connections, people in your new network can provide inside information about volunteer opportunities and job openings and may even recommend you to hiring managers. A strong network of knowledgeable people can guide your transition and inspire you if you get stuck.
5. Letting outside pressures influence and prompt a career change.
Don’t let your parents, significant other, friends, or anyone else influence your career choices. After all, you are the one who has to live your job every day, not them. Switching jobs based on pressure from outside sources will likely lead to dissatisfaction in your new career and resentment toward the person or individuals who pushed you in that direction.
Solution: If you are happy in your current position and are making a reasonable living, don’t change to accommodate the needs, standards or opinions of those around you. Stress your happiness and success in your current position anytime a career change becomes the topic of conversation.
6. Changing careers based solely on financial considerations.
It is tempting to want to explore certain fields because of the salary and other benefits associated with them, but “money” should not be the primary reason for selecting a new career path. Remember the expression, “money can not buy happiness?” I recently blogged about this topic, following research that was done with C-level executives. Although they stated that money was not their prime motivator when switching careers/jobs, they often forgot to consider other intangible rewards.
To read more visit: Are You Planning Your Career Change Carefully?
Solution: If you are happy in your current career, but aren’t making enough money to pay the bills, consider switching jobs within your field. You might be able to find a related position that meets your financial requirements. If you need an overall career change, start by determining which career paths will make you happiest and then consider the money. If you are happy and following your passion, the financial rewards will come over time.
7. Attempting a career change without the necessary experience or training.
Even if you have years of experience, you might find yourself having to start at square one in your new career. While you will have some skills that are transferable from your current field, most likely there are specific skills and training you will need to acquire before successfully transitioning. Additional training and experience will help you get a better job in your new career field.
Solution: Research the training, education, or certifications you will need to succeed in your new area. Speak with established professionals, or contact industry associations to find out what credentials you will need to break into the occupation. Also, consider part-time volunteering or interning to help gain experience while earning a living in your current position. This “free” experience will inform you about your new field before you spend a lot of time or money on education.
8. Selecting a new career path without doing your homework.
Don’t settle on a new career without first conducting thorough research into all of the possibilities. Neglecting to explore new options limits you to those careers you already know about—which means you could be shortchanging yourself in the long run. Your dream job might be waiting in a field you have never heard of or considered, so do your homework!
Solution: Meet with people in your network, research different occupations and companies that interest you, read career and job profiles of their team, and meet with a career counselor. Any of these resources might open your eyes to a career you had never considered.
9. Entering the job market without understanding job search 2.0.
If it has been awhile since you were last on the job market, things have changed significantly. It is important to understand the latest tools and techniques that are being used, such as online social media, personal branding, etc. Neglecting to familiarize yourself with today’s job market might leave you unprepared for an encounter with a prospective employer.
Solution: Meet with a career counselor or personal brand strategist who is very familiar with current requirements and trends in personal branding and job search. Research trends in résumé writing, online social media and plan accordingly. You also should conduct informational interviews with individuals in your chosen field to get a sense of the issues facing employers, the questions they may ask of you and how you could better position yourself for success.
10. Waiting for the perfect time to change careers.
Guess what? There isn’t one. Only you can take charge of your situation, so start one step at a time. Changing careers is a long process, so the sooner you start, the sooner you will be enjoying your dream job.
Solution: Stop waiting for the right moment or opportunity, and take action. Do the research, look at job listings, set goals, and seek the advice of professionals. Once you get the ball rolling, you will feel much more in control of the process.
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Randi Bussin, CCMC, CPBS, MBA, is a Career Reinvention “strategist” and holds the Reach Certified Personal Brand and Online Identity designations. The founder of Aspire!, she partners with successful individuals, helping them find more meaningful work while reigniting the passion that has dimmed professionally. She guides them to a renewed sense of direction, an actionable career reinvention, and a personal branding plan. Reinvention can be a new career, a role more aligned to their values, an entrepreneurial pursuit based upon a passion, or a retirement game plan.