If you’re returning to the workforce after a long hiatus, or if you’re burned out at your current job, you may be interested in seeking a new career. This is an exciting and opportunity-rich time; you could finally choose a field you genuinely love, or one that offers you more pay and route for advancement.
If you want to make the most of this time, and increase your chances of finding a career you love, there are some important steps you’ll need to take.
What to Do Before Starting a New Career
These are some of the most important steps to take before your start a new career:
- Avoid burning bridges. First, avoid burning bridges. If you have a job you currently hate and you know you’re going to be seeking a new career, you might be tempted to tell off the people who frustrated you or quit without any warning. However, it’s much better for your reputation (and your future job opportunities) to keep things formal and respectful. You never know who might have an opportunity for you in the future.
- Define your goals. If you don’t know what you want to do, you might feel lost. So instead of trying to figure out which job you want, start by defining your goals. What is it about your current job that you don’t like? What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to pursue your passion? Do you want more creative responsibilities? Are you just looking to make more money? Write these goals down, so you can come up with career options that help you achieve them specifically.
- Understand your time and monetary budget. Most careers will require some kind of training or education, so how much time and money are you able to spend on these? For example, are you currently staying at home with a child? If so, IMBC suggests that getting a degree online might be favorable to getting one at a physical university.
- List your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re struggling to find a career idea that appeals to you, list some of your strengths and weaknesses as an employee. Do you excel in talking to other people and making new connections? Are you self-disciplined, performing best when you’re working by yourself? Getting these qualities on paper won’t magically direct you to a new potential career, but when you start brainstorming careers, you can return to this list to see how your strengths and weaknesses relate to them.
- Brainstorm the possibilities. There’s practically no limit to the number of careers that are out there, so start brainstorming the possibilities. You could review a comprehensive list of careers by industry, or talk to people you know about their current jobs. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could also consider starting your own business, allowing you to work however you like. In many ways, this is the hardest part of the process, since there are so many available careers—and so many options that are easy to overlook. Try not to write off any possibilities at this stage.
- Start meeting new people. Spend some time networking with other people, adding new people to your contact list and learning more about them. This is a good chance to learn others’ perspectives about their current jobs and careers, possibly aiding you in brainstorming new possibilities. However, it’s also a way to increase your chances of finding a new job when you’re ready to start looking; after all, most positions are filled by referrals, rather than by new applicants and cold introductions.
- Start seeking education (or put together a resume). Eventually, you’ll have an idea of what you want to pursue. At that point, you’ll be ready to prepare for next steps. Depending on the career you choose, that could mean starting to apply for a university program or trade school, or going straight to putting together a resume. Either way, you’ll need to do some introspecting and start taking the first steps toward your new career.
Finding a new career path is challenging and stressful, but it’s a lot easier when you have the support of the people around you. Don’t be afraid to lean on your partner, your friends, and your family members to help you come up with new ideas, and support you as you find a new route to success. You might hit some tough obstacles along the way, but if you’re committed to finding a better opportunity and willing to work hard, you’ll eventually find your way.