Moving from one job to another is not a new trend invented by millennials. In fact, the generation of those millennials’ parents — born in the latter years of the baby boom — held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But ultimately making a career change could be more difficult today. One prime reason for this? Student loan debt. In the U.S., 44.7 million borrowers are saddled with an average student loan debt of $32,731, according to Forbes. Given this kind of debt, along with the economic turmoil from the global pandemic, it’s understandable why someone would be hesitant about making a change.
It can be done, however. The key to successfully changing careers is preparation. Although it might seem intimidating at first, with proper planning, you can make the leap with minimal problems. By taking these steps, you could boost your chances of success as you seamlessly begin working in a new field.
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4 Steps for Successful Career Changes
- Research your new career choice. Some jobs will likely see rapid growth over the next few years. These jobs will be the best for a newbie to jump into because the demand will likely exceed those who had made it their primary career path. For example, data scientists, software engineers, and social media managers all receive strong salaries and will see an uptick in hires in the coming years. Make sure that your new career choice, however, is not solely based on salary prospects, otherwise you could end up quickly looking for another change. Direct your research to explore what your day-to-day responsibilities will include and whether those will be engaging for you.
- Build yourself a financial cushion. If you transfer from a mid-level position in your current field to an entry level job in a new one, you could take a financial hit. Your income will likely be lower as you complete any necessary training and essentially begin at the bottom. Then, once you demonstrate that your age and experience can offer more value, you may be able to get promoted more quickly. But in the meantime, you need to be prepared for an initial decrease in income. Save money and lower your monthly expenses to help build a financial cushion to smooth over this transition.
- Create multiple sources of income. Assuming you have some free time in your off hours, “side hustles” and other sources of income could help you transition to the new job and provide you even more financial security. Having other income sources could make it easier to take that initial risk and find a job you really enjoy. It’s also possible that one of these side jobs could really take off — if you’re successful enough with something, you should seriously consider making it your full-time job.
- Nurture your network. Who you know, and who they know, can make a huge difference in the job you land. Someone who knows your work ethic and can advocate for you to others can help you secure your first job in a new field. The key here is to create a personal brand — that you can communicate to your network of contacts — to promote your value and transferable skills. It will make it easier for you to get a job that better fits your lifestyle.
Switching careers may seem frightening. It may also require a giant leap of faith. Once you safely reach the other side, however, you will be glad you made that jump. To give yourself a better sense of security and more confidence in this process, follow our advice and see how you can change your career track.