After five years of boring spreadsheets, mundane calls, and countless days watching the clock till 5:00pm, you’ve had it—you’re done with this job and are ready to start over in a more exciting field.
Trust us, you aren’t alone. A study of the working lives of Baby Boomers found that most changed jobs at least 11 times before retirement. Among Millennials, that number could easily be much higher.
But before you decide to throw everything out the window and start from square one, first determine if you’re in the wrong job or the wrong career. Then, you can move forward with confidence on a new career path.
Here are 5 points to consider in order to make a successful career change.
1. Are you using your strengths in your current job?
If math was the one class you struggled in your entire life and the sight of numbers bores you to tears, would you ever think to yourself “I should try to be an accountant”? No way! But surprisingly, a lot of people don’t consider all their strengths and weaknesses while picking out the career they want to pursue.
Take a mental inventory of all the skills you have and the tasks that come naturally to you. Do they line up with your career choice? If they do, but you aren’t putting those skills to use in your current job, consider looking for a new position within the company, or finding a different company that will allow you to utilize those abilities. If your skillset doesn’t match the work you are doing, definitely consider a new career path.
2. Do you like the work your boss is doing?
The work you are doing now may be tedious but that could change tremendously as you move up the career ladder.
A good way to see if your job is a career stepping stone is to look to your boss. Do you like the work your boss is doing? Could you see yourself taking on a similar role with similar responsibilities and commitments? If so, then you’re probably in the right career, but maybe not yet in the right position.
3. How do you feel about the pay?
Would your discontent be fixed by better pay? If the answer is yes, the simplest thing to do is to talk to your current employer about a raise. (See: How to Get the Raise you Deserve)
“In today’s job market, most companies would rather pay a good employee to stay than find a replacement,” says Emy Yamauchi-Wong, recruitment expert at ALTRES.
If there isn’t enough money in the world to make you enjoy what you do, it’s high time to update your resume and look for your next opportunity.
4. What does the industry you want to break into require?
Marketing jobs could require experience with Adobe Creative Suite and Facebook, while an accountant may rely heavily on QuickBooks knowledge. Every job has a unique set of requirements and skills that you need in order to perform the job well. Start looking at job descriptions that interest you and work on developing skills that you need for the job.
“Most jobseekers who want to switch industries don’t realize they won’t get top salary without transferrable skills,” explains Yamauchi-Wong. “Most successful career changes come when an individual is willing to go through at least a year of reduced pay while they gain experience in their new field.”
Some careers also require specialized degrees or certifications. If this is the case, you research the required educational programs and come up with a realistic timeline of how you will reach your goal.
5. Have you worked in a different field before?
Do you have experience in the field you want to transfer to or is it completely new? Before packing up your old desk and committing to a new career, try to take on some temporary or part-time work in that industry. The goal is to find out first-hand if this new industry is something you’re truly interested in. Along the way, you will gain the necessary skills and get your foot in the door at various companies.