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