Many employees and even freelancers at some point in their lives realize that their job does not fulfill them. If you are one of them, you might be hesitant to change your career in this environment of financial insecurity. You need to consider however that people who love their job perform much better at work and are healthier and happier individuals. If you are trying to be a great professional in a career field that does not suit you, you are likely to end up with a burnout that will not even be worth it.
What is defined as “radical” career change?
It is important to clarify at this point that if you love what you do, but you do not like the company you work for or your colleagues, you can try for an evolutionary career change. This means that you still stay within your niche, even within your company, but you try to change what bothers you. A radical or revolutionary career change is about changing not only work environment, but also the nature and/or subject of your work.
Emotional preparation for a career change
A radical career change can be the best choice of your life, but in order for that to happen you need to think thoroughly and plan carefully your next steps. Especially if you are an enthusiastic person who changes preferences every few months, you will need to do quite a bit of soul-searching and goal-setting, before embarking on a new career journey. Knowing exactly what you want from your career is the only way to work efficiently towards getting it.
The first thing you need to do is to write down what you have learned from your current job. What are the things you like about it and what are the things you hate? For example, if you work in the PR department of a large firm, you might enjoy the contact with people but not like the pressure. This way you already know that a smaller company with less pressure might be a better option for you. Writing a list of the qualities you love and hate in your current job can be an excellent guide in your job search.
Then you need to ask yourself if your plans for your new career are really what you want or just fantasies. When we get emotionally tired by something negative in our life, we tend to go the opposite way, without knowing whether that is the right direction for us. If, for example, you work 12 hours a day as a financial adviser and you are full of anxiety and stress, you might decide that you want to live peacefully on the country side and raise livestock. But would you really enjoy this lifestyle change?
Once you conclude on the career path you want to follow, you need to check that your skills are enough. You might need some extra training in order to pursue a new career and in some cases that can be provided by the company. But if your work subject is going to be very different, expect that you will need to attend at least some workshops and seminars. A mechanical engineer who wants to work as a civil engineer has all the necessary engineering background, but still needs to update his/her knowledge according to the new field.
If you have your heart set on a new career, you need to check that the people who will be affected by this change agree with your plans. This usually includes your partner and children. A career change might mean that you will be working more hours or that you will be earning less. It might even mean that you will not be working at all for a while, if you need to train on a new field. Is your partner supportive? Explain to them how important this is for you and why and you will manage to find a solution that pleases both of you.
Financial Preparation for a career change
This is the part that usually discourages most people from radical career change. Especially if you have a family and you are the one earning the most money, it is hard to decide on taking a risk. There are two ways to deal with it: saving and keep working.
If you have your heart set on a career change, you should start saving as soon as possible and have at least 6-month worth savings before resigning from your current position. You will likely find a job much sooner, but it is good to have this safety net.
If you keep working in your current job while job hunting, you are more likely to find a job as well-paying as your current one, or even more. Employers trust people who are already employed more than other job-seekers. In case you find a job that is close to the definition of your dream job, but the salary is lower than your current one, discuss with your partner if you can afford to take it. Maybe older family members can support you with your career change, until you get a raise. Happiness is priceless, after all!