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Career Change: Are You Making the Right Move?

written by: Sidharth Thakur•edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 10/15/2011

Are you thinking about changing your career but aren’t sure if it’s the right move? Then here are some questions, the answers to which will reveal, whether or not shifting into a new career is right for you.

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    Whether you’re considering a career change to nurture a long cherished dream or because a new career line is more promising, the decision is not easy to make. There are a lot of considerations and concerns which must be rightly addressed before making a career change. Here are some of the pertinent questions the answers to which will help you get over the perplexity and reach a clear decision on whether or not you should jump into a new career.

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    Why do you need to shift into a different career?

    That’s the first question you need to ask yourself. Is your current career dying out? Does your current career fail to make the right use of your talents? Does the new career offer a more promising future? Are family or personal issues compelling you for a career change? What are the problems with your current career? What if these problems can be overcome, would you still need to change your career? It’s quite possible that at times you may realize that all you need is a change in the situation or job and not necessarily a change in your career. Make sure you don’t skip this very first step.

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    Will a career change mean more satisfaction?

    If dissatisfaction with the current career, is the prime reason for shifting into a new career, then the first thing needed is to build a list of reasons responsible for this dissatisfaction. Build another list for why you expect the new career to be more satisfying. Keep the two lists side by side and see whether this career move will really pay out in terms of satisfaction. On a different note – even if you’re changing careers not because of dissatisfaction, but because you feel there’s much more on the offer with the new career or because your changed circumstances are compelling you for a change, you still need to conduct this little analysis.

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    Are you talented, skilled and competent to perform well in your new career?

    A career change would certainly mean a change in the skills and knowledge required to perform the changed tasks. If you’re changing your career just because the new proposition is too alluring, but your talent or competence doesn’t lie in that field – howMaking a Career Change  can you expect to continue with it, leave aside excelling in it? A shift may require training or education – are you willing to spend the time and money or make efforts towards this. And on the contrary, if you’re already skilled or talented to take on the new career choice with full throttle, you score a plus one.

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    How fast and easy will be the change?

    Some career changes may be quick and easy to make and others, especially those that require acquiring additional qualifications and skills, may be too stretched out and difficult. Do you have the time and effort that’s needed for a successful change? Are you aware of what needs to be done to become more fitting for the new career? Do you have enough financial backup to last you through the change process?

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    How far can you go with your new career?

    If you’re shifting career for growth reasons, you must evaluate what all is in store for you with the new career. Ten or twenty years down the line, will this career still be a viable option? How much growth can you expect in the new career? Which of the two careers offers more chances of growth? Can you continue with the new career for a lifetime? Will the new career help you achieve your personal and professional goals?

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    Will the change get you a better and bigger payoff?

    Payoff is one of the most important, if not the only, factor that one would want to look at when switching careers. You must go deeper into the details of how your salary, perks, allowances, 401k plan, insurance, etc. will change. Even if you’re willing to compromise a bit on the financial aspect, just to fulfill your earnest desire, you cannot afford to overlook the financial aspect completely. Besides looking at the financial aspect, you should also consider how the work environment, designation, influence, etc. will change.

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    Is it the right time for a career change?

    To check whether it’s the right time to make a career change move, you need to analyze along two lines – does your individual situation allow you to change your career and whether it’s the right time to enter a particular industry. On the personal front, things like your financial conditions and your current skill and knowledge levels are the two most important considerations. And on the industry level – is the industry too new and unstable, how saturated is the industry, what kind of growth is expected, and how long will the industry survive are some of the things to think about.

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    How will the change affect your personal and family life?

    A change in career is never limited to one’s professional life. Your personal, family and social life will also get affected. Every career has its own dynamics, and you must take into account how these dynamics will affect the remaining spheres of your life. With a time intensive career or one that involves excessive travelling, you will have less time for your family and your social circle. Are you and other concerned people ready for this change? Some career changes also have a direct impact on your social status – have you taken such changes into account?

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    What happens if things don’t fall into place after the career change?

    Although you should have an optimistic approach towards your career change decision, still you cannot afford to rule out uncertainties. If the career change brings in all the goodies as expected - good for you, but if it doesn’t what will be your next move. Even if there are no noticeable reasons why the change may backfire, you still need to have an escape plan ready.

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    Are you really passionate about the new career choice?

    Finally, it’s time for some deep introspection. Question yourself how keen or passionate are you about this career change decision? Will you continue to be equally passionate about the new career ten years down the line? Is the new career your ultimate goal or will you again feel the need to switch careers a few years from now? Does the new career align well with the ultimate goals of your life? Will the shift make you eagerly look forward to each coming day? If required, would you be willing to walk a few extra miles to keep up with the new career?

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    When you’re done with these questions and answers and are still confident about making a career change, go ahead and put your right foot forward. Here is a wish for your success and good luck with your new career!


  • Image by – Sidharth Thakur