Scrabble letters spelling out change and chance.

Ready for a Career Change?

Do you want to make a career change? Have you already determined that you’re ready to move in a different direction? Maybe you’ve 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 might find that several career paths best suit your individual skills and desires. As a certified career coach, I can help you navigate this sometimes tricky transition.

When you decide it’s time for a career change, the first question that probably comes to mind is, “Where do I start?” You could simply chuck your current job and blindly pursue your dream: this can work for some people, but for most – there is a season of self-discovery and planning that needs first to take place. In my work with my Denver career clients looking to make a career change, we often begin with personality and career assessments. These assessments help to identify where you’re at in this process: Are you a risk taker? Do you thrive on structure? Do you need a plan? Can you jump off into the unknown and leave anxiety behind? Understanding yourself on a deeper level will help you to design your path forward

For example: if you thrive on routine, making a plan, and having a safety net – quitting your job with nothing lined up might be the worst idea for you. However, if you’re the opposite and you thrive on the unknown and enjoy taking risks – you might not mind the uncertainty that leaving your current job creates. 

Whatever the case, there are 5 ways you can ease into a career change no matter your age or personality type! These 5 ways to test drive a new career can be tailored to your level of risk/responsibility. 

5 Ways to Test Drive a New Career

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 in a field that you’re interested in or someone who is connected to a person doing your dream job. 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: 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’ll want 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 job satisfaction to success stories of people in that field.

Strategy 3: Volunteer or Intern

Many times, you can gain great 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 full-time jobs. 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 job 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 starting a new business.  

As a career coach and executive leadership coach, I know that a job change always involves an element of the unknown–but the rewards can be enormous. Being uncomfortable is a good sign because the greatest growth in life always occurs beyond your comfort zone. You just have to be willing to take the first step out of it. 

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