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How You Can Confidently
Make a Career Shift
10 questions to ask yourself before making a change

by Susan Eckert

So, you’ve been thinking about changing your line of work?

Don’t worry; you’re not alone. In fact, more and more people are following this previously unpopular career path. In fact, it’s becoming much more common for men and women, especially those in their 30s and 40s to do just that.

Tragic world events have also contributed to this new phenomenon—people are reconsidering work/life balance issues, their legacy, and how they want to be contributing to this world in the here and now. Doctors, interested in work/life balance and greater safety, are nurturing their artistic interests. Corporate employees, desiring greater independence, are swapping suits for bathrobes and starting up home-based businesses.

You can change your line of work AND be successful
If you do your research and plan well, you’ll be able to make a confident, well-informed decision about making a career change. Knowing the answers to the following 10 questions will provide you with the information, motivation and confidence to move forward and choose the right new line of work for you.

1. What are your skills and competencies?
Make a list of your general (e.g. management, organization) and technical skills (e.g. specific software skills, other industry-specific skills). Don’t stop until you’ve exhausted your list. Refer to online career development sites for help.

2. Which of your skills are transferable?
Note where you are strong, average, and/or weak. Also note your preferred skill set—which responsibilities do you enjoy.

3. What key competencies are required to be successful in your new field of interest?
Talk to others in the line of work you wish to pursue—ask them to list the key competencies that enable them to be successful. Match these against your list.

4. How many of these key competencies do you currently have?
Are they your strongest skills? Where are the gaps?

5. If there are skills you don’t have, ask how you might build them.

6. Would school or a certificate program support you in making the transition?
If so, can you/do you want to pursue this option?

7. What would making the change entail?
Would there be a temporary setback in pay? If so, can you live with the temporary adjustments?

8. What are the costs/benefits of staying right where you are now?
Have you carefully considered and weighed the positives/negatives of your current situation? Determine whether or not the negatives can be improved by a change in environment. Or, do the negatives revolve around the work and a conflict with your interests?

9. What are the cost/benefits of making a change?

10. Which is more appealing to you?
Once you’ve weighed the positives and negatives to both options, what have you found?

Once you know the answers to these questions, a clear choice should emerge, and you should be armed with key information to help you find work in your new field. Having a list of your strengths and transferable skills, and a clear understanding of how this new field better fits with your lifestyle, interests, etc. can also help you present yourself in a compelling way to a prospective employer or business partner.

Moving ahead
If the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, or, if you’re completely adamant about making the change, then carry a list of the benefits/reasons why you want to make the change in your back pocket. Anytime a “doubting Thomas” thought pops up, squash it by reading the list aloud.

Still sounds good? Then keep going—you will achieve your goal!


Susan Eckert is a career coach and consultant can help you love what you do for a living. Visit her website at http://www.thevaluescoach.com

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