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Considering Changing Careers? Here's How to Decide on a New One
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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If you're thinking to yourself, 'I need a career change but don't know what to do,' you're not the only one! Changing careers can be intimidating — especially if you don't have any experience in the field you want to pursue.  But it's also sometimes necessary in order to follow your dreams and chase your career goals.

While switching careers down the line isn't necessarily an easy feat, it can and has been done. There are, however, some things you should know before you make the move to change careers. Here's what you should know and the questions you should ask yourself before you switch careers.

What to know before you decide on a new career

Before you decide on a new career, understand the following.

1. Changing careers may require more education or certifications.

You may not be able to make the jump to a new career as seamlessly as you'd perhaps want. Switching careers may require you to go back to school to get another or a higher degree. It also may require you to go on to pursue a certification of sorts.

2. You might not land a job right away.

Changing careers is not going to be as easy as getting a new job in your line of work. Because you are basically starting from scratch, you will have to be aware that it could take longer than you might expect or hope to land a new job. You might decide to look for work before quitting your current job or pick up part-time work to get by in the meantime.

3. You may be asked about your career switch during interviewing.

When you go for interviews during the job-hunting process, be prepared for recruiters and hiring managers to ask you about your career switch. They will likely be curious about why you are changing careers in the first place — and about what interests you about the career you're now pursuing.

4. There are some questions you should ask yourself before switching careers.

  • What are my reasons for switching careers?
  • What are my hesitations about switching careers?
  • Are my hesitations just nerves, or are they valid concerns?
  • To what kind of career do I want to switch?
  • Am I mentally prepared to switch careers?
  • Am I professionally prepared to switch careers?
  • Do I need to go back to school?
  • Do I need to get any training?
  • Do I really want to switch careers, or do I just want a different job?
  • Am I prepared to potentially take a pay cut by switching careers and starting fresh?

What to do if you don't know what career to choose

What do you do if you know you want to switch careers, but you're not sure what career you want to pursue instead? Here are five steps to figuring out what to do if you don't know what career to choose.

1. Consider your passions.

Think about your passions — what do you like spending your time doing? Can you make a career out of it?

2. Consider your best skills.

Think about the skills you already possess — what kinds of jobs require those skills? 

3. Decide if it's the company you actually don't like.

Think about the current company for which you now work. Is it really just the company that you don't like, or is it actually your career? If it's just the company, then maybe you want to apply to other companies in your line of work before switching careers entirely. 

4. Decide if it's the job you actually don't like.

Think about the current job you now work. Is it really just the job that you don't like, or is it actually your career? If it's just the job, then maybe you want to talk to your human resources department about what's not working out so well in your current role. Maybe then can make adjustments, provide you more resources or help in some way to make the job more enjoyable.

5. Take a career test.

If you're really stuck and not sure where to even get started thinking about other careers in which you'd be interested, why not take a career test? There are tons of career tests out there (some are even free!) to tell you which careers would be best for you based on your personality and skills.

What to do when you hate your job and you can't quit

If you really hate your job but don't feel like you can quit (perhaps because you just started and don't want to job hop, or because you really need this gig for the pay right now, or maybe you have another reason entirely!), there are still some steps you can take.

1. If you can't change your situation, you can change your mindset.

If you can't change your job, you can change the way you think about it. Shift your mindset to think positively. Focus on what is going well! Does the job pay you well? Do you like at least some of your colleagues? Does your manager challenge you in a good way? Is it close to home? Are there good benefits? Try to keep your mind set on what you do enjoy and appreciate about your job for now. Maybe you'll be able to change your situation later on, or maybe you'll learn to like it.

2. Talk to your boss.

Have a conversation with your boss about what's not working for you. They may be able to help you, give you more resources, provide you more training, better delegate tasks, introduce you to colleagues who can lend a hand or help in another way. 

3. Sit down with your human resources department.

If your boss can't help you, maybe human resources will! Talk to the human resources department in your company about your role and what isn't working so well about it. They may be able to help you get adjusted.

What is the best career to start at 40?

Age is just a number! While ageism is certainly real in many companies, there's no one right answer to the best career to start at 40 years old or older. Answer the aforementioned questions for yourself about your passions and skills, and even take a career test, and you'll be able to determine the best career for you to start at any age!

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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