Thinking About a Career Change? Here Are Some Things to Consider

Is a career change in your future? Learn more about how to change careers and things to consider as you make a career shift.

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3 min read

The new year can be a great time to assess your goals. If you’re not happy in your current career path, there may be no better time than the present to consider a career change.

If so, you wouldn't be the first to contemplate a career shift, and that may be even more true the earlier you are in your career. Today’s graduates routinely change jobs several times in their first 10 years in the workforce—and a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says millennials will hold between 12 and 15 jobs in their lifetime.

Considering a different career path, and wondering how to change careers? Shannon Breuer, president at West Conshohocken, Penn.-based investment advisory firm Wiley Group, offers career coaching for clients and children of clients.

Why Change Careers?

There are different reasons why people change careers:

  • Job loss. “Sometimes they’re forced, or they think they're forced, because they lose their job,” Breuer says. In this scenario, sometimes people become anxious about the type of work they’re in and want to make sure a traumatic job loss doesn’t happen again.
  • Following passion. Some people have clarity about what they really want to do vocationally, she says. They want to do something different because it more closely matches their skills and passion.
  • Proactively fighting obsolescence. Still others may like their job, but they see that the industry they’re in is about to get disrupted. “Sometimes it’s a reason to say, ‘I’ve got to be ahead of the curve and make some changes now while I can,’” she says.
  • Looking for new challenges. Or perhaps you're not getting the challenge you want, not learning at the rate you used to, or not meeting goals that are important to you. Maybe you just want a better work-life balance.     

“You want to run to your next career,” Breuer says. “You don't want to run away from your previous career.”

When Should You Consider Changing Careers?

If you’re in your 30s or 40s, it can be a challenge to carve out time to research a new career or dabble in a new venture part-time or pro bono.

But it may be better to do it then because you still have runway left with your working years, Breuer advises.

Regardless of whether you’re in your 30s or your 50s, there’s some wisdom to keep in mind: “It’s always easier to find a new job when you have a job,” she says.

Things to Consider with a Career Shift

A number of factors can weigh into a possible career change, says Breuer:

  • Finances. A large majority of people make career decisions based on finances. “What’s the market going to pay for you?” she says. And although you might want service to be a big part of your career, not all nonprofits are going to give you the living wage you need, she adds. 
  • Health. Some people change careers because their current one is too stressful.
  • Risk. How comfortable are you with taking risks and doing new things? “You’re not going to know it all,” she says, but “don't not do it because it’s uncomfortable.”

To Thine Own Self Be True

Circumstances like losing a job or having a bad boss or office culture can make you want to change careers, even though your current career may actually be a good fit, Breuer says.

Self-awareness is at the heart of assessing whether you need to change fields, she advises. Talking with family and friends to learn about yourself as a person and as a talent can help you identify what your true competencies are, she adds.

“The hardest work of all is to really know ourselves,” she says.

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