6 Career Change Mistakes to Avoid

May 8th, 2008

Guest blogger Heather Johnson has some great advice on common career change mistakes and how to avoid them.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and shift your career, then you’re bound to be feeling a bit vulnerable.  As you make your transition, you will likely experience a myriad of  emotions including anger, anxiety, stress, excitement and terror.  With all of these emotions running wild, wrong turns sometimes start to look like good ideas  To minimize stress during your career change,  avoid these six common mistakes:

1.    Not having a plan in place.  Even if you have a clearly thought-out strategy to shift your career, it can still take a couple of months to complete.  If you just up and quit your current job with no plan in place, you may be facing an even longer and more stressful transition period. 

2.    Changing your career because you hate your job.  Don’t mix up your career with your job.  It may be that you’re at the wrong company but not in the wrong profession.  Don’t let a bad job make you rethink your career path.  Figure out if it’s your job or your career that you hate before making a drastic move.

3.    Making a change just for the money.  Remember the old adage that money can’t buy happiness when you feel lured by dollar signs toward a different career.  Even if a different profession inherently offers more money than your current field, be careful about switching for money alone.  If you switch and hate your new career, you’ll be spending that extra money to relieve your newfound stress.

4.    Changing careers due to pressure from others.  If you like your job and make a reasonable living, then you shouldn’t change your job because of what others have to say about it.  Your parents, spouse or friends don’t have to go to your job every day.  While you can certainly respect their opinions, don’t let those opinions dictate your career choices.

5.    Changing careers because someone you know is successful.  It’s human nature to compare yourself to your friends and family members.  But don’t make a hasty career change because you’re envious of the success a friend has had in a given field.  Put your competitive impulses aside and think about whether you would truly be happy in your friend’s shoes. 

6.    Searching for a new career without honing your skills.  Before you take the plunge and actually change your career, take the proper time to prepare. Do your homework on the field you’re interested in and seek out any additional training or knowledge you will need.  Make sure your resume is up to date and presents your qualifications in the best possible light.  Practice interviewing with friends and start building your network.

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on the topic of career exploration. She invites you to email her with questions and writing job opportunities.

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Markandey Singh

Good one… tomorrow i am leaving my first company.

Rhonda Salazar

Great post. I definitely agree with 4. Dont let other people’s opinions dictate your life.

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The Coach

Excellent points to keep in mind. As a Job Search Coach for Executives, I always require my clients to begin their search with a Go/No-go list. The list includes only those things that are absolutely required in their job. This includes everything from location to salary, reporting structure to promotional opportunities and my favorite, seasoned management. Once that list is complete, your job search is a lot clearer and you won’t make the same mistake twice. But be warned; always focus on what you are going towards, not what you are going away from.

Simon Stapleton

This is such great advice. Not sure about other folks but I recognize all 6 mistakes I have (or have almost) made in the past. Especially making a change just for money. I did this once and was really miserable in the job I took. I won’t make that mistake again (although in these times, who can say for sure?)
Thanks for sharing!

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