Considering a career change? Steer Clear of These 5 Common Errors

It is estimated by most experts that the average individual will experience a change in career (not just job) between 3 to 5 times during their working life. What are the reasons? Many people are feeling burnt-out, underpaid, stressed, bored, unsatisfied, or stuck in a career rut. Thanks to corporate mergers, changes in technology, company restructuring, age discrimination, and a thousand other reasons, some people have had their careers changed upon them. Having counseled thousands of people in finding new careers and jobs, we have discovered that there are five classic mistakes commonly made by those transitioning to a different career or job:

No clear goal has been set. It's impossible to run a race without knowing where the finish line is, just like it's impossible to succeed without having a clear goal. Only partial goals are held by many career changers. They desire a job with less stress, more money, a brighter future, greater independence, and increased satisfaction. However, a career goal should be comprehensive, specific, clear, and realistic. Your decision-making process should take into account not only the practicalities of your situation, but also your personal identity, the current job market, and potential drawbacks.

No clear picture of your strengths was presented. Many individuals who are looking to transition careers (or seeking employment) worry more about their shortcomings than their talents. Many people are unaware of what their strengths are. It is your strengths, not your weaknesses, that determine your career success. Obtain an expert evaluation. Include personal characteristics, motivation, aptitudes, goals, values, interests, and talents in your description as well. This picture is too important not to have when making a career and job decision.

Lack of careful planning. Although thinking about it for a long time is common, it does not equate to a thorough plan of action. People tend to plan a night out with friends more meticulously than they do their careers. To properly plan for a new career, one should research the career, talk to people in the field, gain hands-on experience, read books, trade journals, and industry newsletters, create strategies to combat any potential negatives or problems, consult with a mentor, and understand the educational and training requirements necessary.

Lack of motivation. Many underachievers of all ages that I, as a psychologist who has worked with them, have encountered have good intentions, yet fail to take action. Of course, this is a normal human trait. At times, we all tend to procrastinate, come up with excuses, and fail to take the necessary steps to achieve our objectives. Unless you are highly motivated, it is not advisable to change careers. You will only get to your desired destination through consistent, daily, and well-thought-out action.

No individual should lack a personalized job search strategy. For those who are switching careers, employing tactics beyond the conventional job search is essential. A strategy must be tailored to you as an individual, taking into consideration your current career change. If you tell a job interviewer (or anyone else) that you are "changing careers," it can be a death knell - for example. If you are changing careers, you are essentially starting over from square one and have to compete with people who have recently graduated. You should say, "I am taking the next step in my career," which is closer to the truth for most career changers. As one more example, ensure that your résumé is updated in such a way that it does not limit your options to the former career. Minimize the use of technical language. Highlight the specific skills acquired in your old career that will provide a tangible benefit in the new one. By avoiding these classic mistakes, you are setting yourself up for success in both your job and your career.

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