28 Jul Is Now The Right Time To Make A Career Change?
Maybe you’ve been thinking about a career change for a long time. Maybe working from home has piqued your curiosity about other career options. Maybe you read the headline of this article and realized you want to make a change. All of these are valid reasons, but none of them are reasons to make a decision hastily.
Starting a new career in uncertain times isn’t a decision that should be made overnight. There are a lot of factors to consider such as finances, personal hardship and stress, stability, and longevity. To help you gain clarity, here are five questions to ask yourself.
Are you making this decision out of desperation?
Living in the midst of a pandemic can make even the most patient and non-reactive person react hastily. Most people are experiencing higher than ever levels of stress, which can lead to hasty decision making based solely on emotions. We feel desperate to escape the situation we’re in and can only see one way out, even if there are many other options.
To be sure that you aren’t making a decision simply out of desperation, take a step back and think about how you were feeling about your job pre-COVID. Are the frustrations you’re feeling now the same ones that you felt back then? What has changed both about your job and the way you feel about it during the past few months?
While emotion certainly plays a role in decision making, it shouldn’t be the driving force behind a decision to make a career change. You need to have enough rational reasons to support your emotional ones. List making is incredibly helpful, as you can write out all of the reasons you have for making a change and analyze how many are purely emotional and how many are rational and logical.
Why do you want a new job?
It’s important to really dig deep and find the answer to this question. Every day for a week, write out your thoughts about why you want to make a change. Think about it when you’re angry, happy, bored, content, frustrated, or feeling any other emotion. You want to be sure that your reasoning stays the same regardless of your mood. A career change needs to be beneficial for the long term, not just a quick fix for the way you’re feeling right now.
What do you want in a new career?
It’s typically much easier to identify what you don’t want than to figure out what you do. Use that to your advantage and start to make a list of the things you don’t want to do in your next job, and that will free up some mental space for you to focus on what’s important in a new career.
You want to think both broad and specific, listing things like skills and responsibilities as well as overall impact. Perhaps you feel that you aren’t making enough of a difference in your current career, and you want to do work that more directly impacts people – that’s a broad idea. Maybe you’re in a more supportive role and want to move into something where you can exercise your leadership skills, or you’ve been stuck doing administrative work and you want to do something more hands on – those are specifics.
Broad ideas help you start to look for career paths and from there you can add in the specifics to narrow down your options. Both things need to be considered when you’re looking for a new career.
Can you afford to make a change?
Changing jobs doesn’t come with a guarantee of stability, especially during a pandemic. It might even come with a salary reduction or a temporary loss of income if your starting date gets altered. These are uncertain times and you have to be prepared for the unexpected.
Take into account what you get from your job beyond the base salary. Is healthcare covered? Do you have a monthly meal allowance? Are other business expenses covered, like internet or company laptops now that you’re working from home? All of these things if not covered by a new employer will add up as expenses, and need to be budgeted for.
Think about the potential financial impact changing careers will have, and if you can afford any kind of economic instability. You won’t know for sure what your new salary will be until you have an offer in writing, so you need to take a hard look at your finances and figure out truly how much your cost of living is. You also want to factor in expenses for emergencies, so it’s a good idea to take your base number and add 15%-20% to that. This becomes your absolute minimum required salary and is not a number that should be compromised on, especially during uncertain times.
What is the outlook of the industry you’re looking at?
Different industries have different risks at this time. Some are much more stable than others, so you need to take that into account. If you’re moving to an industry that’s more stable than the one you’re currently in, there’s less risk. If you move to one with less stability, you’re increasing the risk two-fold. First, the industry’s stability itself, and second, the unfortunate reality that often the most recently hired are the first to be let go.
Don’t make a hasty decision.
No question here, just an important step in the decision making process. You should take a minimum of two weeks to make your decision, more if time allows. This gives you ample time to sit with the decision when you’re feeling stressed, happy, sad, frustrated, angry, bored, or whatever cycle of emotions you’re going through. If your decision stays the same when you’re in a good mood or a bad one, that’s a sign that you’re making the right decision. If it fluctuates with your mood, you need to take more time to weigh your options and really think things through.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a much better understanding of what’s prompting your desire for a career change and if now is the right time to act on it. If it is, go for it. If not, take a step back and search for ways to find satisfaction in your current job and reanalyze your situation a few months down the road.