Entering the workforce, you might quickly get disillusioned with your career choice and consider going into something else. While your age is an advantage, every career change is a serious decision. It significantly impacts your life, perhaps even more than you expect. Here are 10 worst career-change mistakes you might fall victim to during the early years of your career.
1. Changing your career because of others
This is something you might be dealing with especially at the beginning of your career. Never let others, be it your parents, teachers or significant others, influence your career choice. Sure, you can take their advice and mull over their suggestions. But ultimately, the decision has to be your own – you’ll be the one to live with your career every day. If you like what you’re doing and are able to support yourself, nobody has the right to argue with you. Switching careers because of outside pressures almost always leads to disappointment and frustration.
2. Making a change without required experience/education
Sometimes you want to change your career so much, that you plunge right in and forget that your first step should to see whether it’s possible to bridge the gap between your current career and the new one. There’s the question of experience, skills or even formal education to consider.
Some skills are transferable and will work in any context – these will be most valuable in case of a career change. Sometimes you might need additional training and experience before entering the workforce in the new field. Naturally, before diving right in you should take your time to intern or volunteer to get an idea about the reality of the job. You can begin your transition only when you find a link between what you’ve got and the career in question,.
3. Having no plan
Sometimes you’re just desperate for a change and switch careers without having a clear idea about what happens next. You should realize that a successful career change takes months to complete and without a strategy you might find yourself drifting around for a very long period of time.
Having a clear strategy and detailed action plan which includes you finances and training is key to successful career change. Without having this plan, you might be tempted to take on the first offer that makes it your way and then sorely regret it.
4. Being lured by the success of others
Sometimes you might see a friend doing great in their careers and think: Why couldn’t I achieve the same? This is when you might impulsively jump into a new career track. Just o be clear, this is a mistake. Before changing a career, make sure to close research the new field.
Network your way into it to get the scoop from insiders. Do your research. Talk about the industry with your colleagues, friends and family. This is how you can learn the specifics of a job before making any decisions.
5. Relying on the expertise of carrier counselor
Even if it seems that career counselors know what they’re talking about, they’re facilitators and will ultimately follow your lead. Sure, they can help you understand where your talents lay or what you’d like to do for a living, but they cannot do the research for you. Ultimately, you’re the one who needs to decide whether you’re a good fit for an industry. Career counselors won’t be making this decision for you. If they promise they will, better seek help of someone else.
6. Making a change without finding a mentor or getting to know insiders
Never choose a new career on your own. You must realize that your ideas about a career might not correspond to the reality of the job, so don’t attempt to transition from one career to another without the helps of other professionals.
First, focus on developing you professional network by adding contacts who work in the field you’re interested in. Talk to them and interview them about their jobs. It’s a good idea to join industry associations as well.
Networking is key for all job-seekers – your contacts are your best source of reliable information about a sector. You should also look for a new mentor to guide you through the meanders of the career – someone you trust and know has the expertise to do it.
7. Choosing a hot field without thinking whether it’s a good fit
Sometimes you might find yourself attracted to a hot career without really thinking about what it’s like to work in that field. Even if everyone seems to be in awe of that profession, it doesn’t mean that you’re a good fit. In fact, sometimes these jobs turn out to be not as fantastic as everyone claims. Ultimately, your career is for you and only you – you’re the one who has to live it daily. Choosing a job because it’s attractive is a move that might cost you a lot.
8. Making a career change without self-reflection
Another mistake workers often make is jumping into a new career without really thinking about the consequences of this action. You need to first assess your skills, key values and interests. List all things you like doing (it can be skills and activities from different parts of your life). List things you wouldn’t like to keep on doing. Use the smart technique of SWOT analysis and list all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with the new career. It will help you to find a career that suits your personality and preferences.
9. Doing it for the money
This is a very common mistake. Many people are attracted to careers that offer large paychecks. Sometimes you need to sacrifice lots of time to get the required training and enter the market. Other times, it’s a question of luck and appropriate skillset. But regardless, it’s not worth to spend your life doing something you don’t even like. This leads straight to the painful road of workplace dissatisfaction. Changing careers isn’t easy from the financial point of view either. Even if you expect to earn more in your new career, remember that you’re a beginner and need to start at entry level positions which might not pay you much.
10. Expecting that career change happens overnight
Finally, you might change your career and expect it to just happen overnight. Well, it never does. Most often, a successful career change takes at least six months. But it can also stretch to one year. And that’s an entire year of your life. This is why you should weigh your decision carefully so you don’t lose time on a career transition that ultimately doesn’t make you happy.
Making a career change can invigorate your professional life, just as easily as it can turn it into a nightmare. Before you make any decisions, think carefully, asses yourself, research the new sector and try to picture yourself on that new job for the next five years. If you do all that and still feel excited about the change, it’s probably a good career choice.
Article contributed by Carol Williams
Carol Williams is a HR specialist at Grapefruit – a fruit shipping company from Florida. She combines her expertise in human resources management and career counseling with her zeal for tutoring and blogging.