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Should You Choose a New Career?

Where do you start when you need to choose a new career?

Photo by Matthew Wiebe

Settling on a new career isn't easy; and for many that haven't had to look for a job in decades, the ability to find a new job seems daunting. You need to make sure that your new job is suited to both your abilities and your personal needs. If not, you could find yourself living life in the wrong job, without proper planning for the future and the ability to face difficult decisions. While there isn’t a magic formula to follow, there are savvy steps you can take to find the next step in the ladder – or, in our new modern society, the jungle gym – of a professional life. Is it time for a new career? Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re ready for the “big move.”

Are You Leaving Your Options Open?

The most important ingredient in a wise career choice is flexibility. Be willing and able to change your plans. A slight detour may be all that's needed to make the career right for you. You're trained to be a nurse, but you like journalism, too. Why not combine both interests and become a science writer for a newspaper?

Are You Worried About What Others Might Think Of Your Choice Of Career?

By all means, take into account the effect of your work on your social standing. But don't overestimate it. There are “go-somewhere” careers where you'll find more jobs and fewer qualified applicants to compete with, more job security, and better pay than in some of the white-collar jobs we generally think desirable.

What Are Your Odds For Success? 

Drive, dedication, and ambition make success possible. Even though the odds are against you, if your desire is strong enough, give it a whirl! It's possible to acquire the necessary skill if you have the determination and desire.

What’s The Condition Of The Road Ahead?

The field may look fine now, but if the future appears cloudy, beware! No matter how good you may be at your job, you won't get anywhere if the industry is standing still. Your best chances for a great career change are in an industry that is growing and creating new jobs opportunities, where the demand for workers is great, the supply of qualified people low, and (if you’re a woman) where women have not traditionally worked before. Current examples are: financial and banking, manufacturing and wholesale sales, and legal.

Do Your Abilities And The Job Requirements Match?

Everyone can do some things better than others. Do you have the special mental, physical, or emotional qualifications necessary to succeed in the occupation you are considering? Just because a job interests you, doesn't man you'll be good at it. In what areas do you have special aptitudes? If you need to learn a job quickly, can you? Can you handle a job involving numbers or a healthy imagination or a good memory?

Who Are You? Who Do You Want To Be? 

Make your own personal checklist to decide which career comes closest to meeting your needs. Your list should include these questions:

  • Does the job offer as much salary, security, prestige, personal satisfaction, and chance for advancement as I want?
  • Will I like working with the kind of people employed in this field?
  • Will it satisfy my desire to work with people, ideas, or things?
  • Do I want a job in which I will be meeting people?
  • Would I be happy doing this for the rest of my life?

What Do People Do In The Work You’re Thinking About?

Discuss your career plans with people already in the field. Try to find out what a typical day or week is like. Will you do the same same tasks over and over, or is there variety? What are the "sometime" duties of the job? Do you like the kind of work being done by people in this field? Are the working conditions pleasant?

Become A Walking Encyclopedia On The Fields You Are Considering.

Do your exploring before you start training or job-hunting. You'll find job information at public libraries, or online. Follow influencers in your field on social media. See what they’re talking about. Trade unions, employers' associations, or professional societies will send you information describing available jobs and training opportunities in their fields. See what your career groups are talking about on LinkedIn. For each field, find out: What are the entry-level jobs? What will your salary be at first? In five years? What is the employment picture now? What are the Affirmative Action programs? What is the real potential for advancement?

Whatever your situation may be, be sure to make any decision with a clear mind and an ample amount of research. And remember, you can do it.

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