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5 Ways to Test Drive a New Career

5 Ways to Test Drive a New Career

Reduce The Risk of Changing Careers

Do you hate your job? Have you already determined that you’re ready to move in a different career direction? Maybe you’ve even identified one or even several possible new career options. It warrants mentioning that there is no one perfect career out there for you, but you will find that several career paths best suit your individual skills and desires.

So now what? Sure, you could simply chuck your current job and blindly go out there to pursue your dream. [Check out: The Top Five Best Reasons For Leaving Your Job] This can work for some people, and the personality and career assessments I give to my career coaching clients helps to identify who those risk-takers are, but for most people, this would cause excessive anxiety and uncertainty. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Here are five ways that you can ease into a new career before jumping ship:

Strategy 1: Six degrees of separation – Okay, so maybe you don’t know someone who knows someone who knows Kevin Bacon…but there is something to this theory. You probably do know someone or someone who knows someone who is doing your dream job or has knowledge about it. Offer to take them to coffee or lunch. Ask them questions. Your best bet for gaining crucial knowledge of a career is to talk to someone who is already doing it, and doing it well. What do they love about their job? What don’t they love? They will be a wealth of information, and finding out important information ahead of time can save you time and energy in reaching your goal.

The power of networking is especially huge if you are changing fields entirely. You have a better chance of finding an “in” to a different field if someone knows you and can vouch for you. You need to get your foot in the door before you can convince someone how your skills translate to that area.

Strategy 2: Research – If you’re reading this article then you have an understanding of how to use the internet to find information…and you know that Googling is a verb. 😉 There is so much available online – just use a search engine to explore a specific career field and you can find things from salary information to success stories of people in that field.

Strategy 3: Volunteer or Intern – Many times, you can gain enormous insight into a possible career by volunteering a few hours a week. Non-profit organizations, hospitals, and shelters are just a few examples of places that use volunteers. Many other businesses offer internships (some unpaid, some paid) to those who want to break into a field. If a place doesn’t offer either of these, you can always offer yourself as an unpaid intern or volunteer– the worst they can say is no.  

Strategy 4: Take classes – Your new career field might require additional learning or certification. Some of these courses might be online which makes it easier for those working a full-time job. I’ve had career coaching clients do everything online from learning computer coding to obtaining their real estate license. Another bonus of doing this while remaining at your current job is that depending on the type of classes, some or all of the tuition may be reimbursed by your employer. You can check with your HR department ahead of time.

Strategy 5: Moonlight – Unless your current career forbids this, you can start doing your new career on the side to see how you like it. Especially if your new venture involves self-employment, starting it out on the side allows you to keep the financial stability of your current job while going through the growing pains of a starting a new business.  

As a career coach and executive coach, I know that changing careers always involves an element of the unknown but the rewards can be enormous. Being uncomfortable is actually a good sign, because the greatest growth in life always occurs beyond your comfort zone. Good luck and remember:

“You miss 100% of the shots not taken.” — Wayne Gretzky, hockey great.

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Top 5 Best Reasons For Leaving Your Job

Top 5 Best Reasons For Leaving Your Job

5 Ways to Determine If It’s Time to Leave Your Job

Most people daydream about a change in jobs now and again, but here are 5 ways to determine if it might be time to take the leap.

1. Make a list of all the things you like about your job.

No matter how unhappy my career coaching clients say they are in their current job, one of the first things I have them do is list the things that they enjoy, even if it’s a very short list and they can only honestly say, “the free coffee in the break room.” If their list of things they like is solely related to having a great boss, great benefits, and/or good co-workers rather than the actual work itself, that is very telling. Loving their work but not loving the corporate mission or its leadership is also important to figure out. Make an honest list and then keep that list in mind if you decide to go job-hunting, so you can recognize the things you like.

2. How do you feel on Sundays?

If you find yourself already dreading Monday’s return-to-work on Sundays, it might be time to rethink what you are doing. One of my executive coaching clients told me he started to feel that dread on Saturdays, because he knew he only had one more day before he had to return to a job he didn’t like. The ultimate goal is to be happy about what you get to do each day, and that your weekends are a time to truly relax and renew yourself. Keep in mind that it’s normal to have some ambivalence about jumping into the work week after an amazing weekend of fun, friends and family, but that’s different than the experience of actual dread.

3. You frequently browse jobs on places like Indeed and Linked In.

I get this one a lot from career coaching clients. They aren’t exactly sure what they’re looking for but they just want to “see what else is out there.” The problem is that if you don’t first clarify what you want, you end up with the “different job; same crap” problem and you’re back to job searching soon after. If you take the time to sort out what you really desire in your next job, you will be happy you took that time in the long run.

4. You keep hoping things will get better.

Sometimes, waiting things out is the smart thing to do. For instance, if you love your job overall, aside from one or two things, such as an overwhelming project, bad boss or annoying co-worker, it makes sense to give things a chance. Projects end, co-workers move on, and bad bosses may (hopefully) get fired. The key is to figure out where that tipping point is and your overall satisfaction. Did the project that ended get replaced by something equally undesirable; are you working too many hours per week despite being told things would “slow down,” or does your bad boss seem like they are settling in for the long haul? If the “waiting it out” is to the point that you feel you’re in danger of an ulcer or drinking problem, it might be time to leave.

5. You have thought about getting a career coach.

Many of my clients say they had considered getting a career coach at some point in the past due to work dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, too often people wait until they are really miserable in the jobs, and only look for a coach when either they feel they can’t take it anymore, or their work stress is impacting the quality of their relationships with their spouse, friends, and family. Ideally, you want to have a positive work/life balance, where you have plenty of energy and attention to give to the people you care about outside of work hours.

Is it Time to Make A Positive Change?

Think about the number of hours you spend each week at your job (2,080 per year for full-time work), and how many hours that adds up to over your lifetime. Life is too short to waste on something you aren’t passionate about, so if you are unhappy in your current job, do something about it. Many people don’t need a career coach if they already know what they want to do and how to get there, but others need more guidance or desire career assessments to determine their next path. Whatever you do, decide you want to be happy doing it, and get started!

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