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10 Mistakes to Avoid When Changing Careers

Written by careers  |  11. January 2006

DECIDING TO CHANGE CAREERS You have courageously made the decision to change careers and you're excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. However, in order to steer clear of possible disaster, it is important to be aware of the potential pitfalls that may await you. Changing careers can be life changing and rewarding or a recipe for failure. BE SMART - AVOID THESE 10 COMMON MISTAKES Get your career change off on the right foot by identifying the most common mistakes individuals make at this critical time. Evaluate your unique circumstances to determine if you have or are at risk for committing one or more of the mistakes below. 1. Lack of skills You have always dreamed of being dancer, but you have never participated in dance training. The only experience you have is from dancing at the local club on the occasional Saturday night with friends. Similarly, you cannot expect to become a nurse without the proper training and licensure. Make sure that the career you are aiming for is not way beyond your current skills and experience. 2. Lack of knowledge about other careers A position as a high-level executive in a Fortune 500 company may sound exciting, but are you willing to dedicate yourself to a stressful 40+ hours a week schedule that is packed with tight deadlines? It is critical to understand the pros and cons of any potential career before making a change. 3. Leaving your current career for the wrong reasons You dislike your coworkers but love your clients. Or, the pay is average but you get complete satisfaction from the results you produce. In each of these cases, a career change may not be the right fix. Instead, you may only need to explore the possibility of revamping your current position by adding or taking away responsibilities. 4. Knowing that it takes lots of work to find new work It has been awhile since you were last in the job market and maybe you forgot that it could be competitive, taxing, draining, and stressful. Be prepared to experience rejections and frustration, as well as, conduct plenty of footwork while trying to enter a new career. 5. High salary expectations Making a career change sometimes means you may have to lower your salary expectations. Promotions within a company take time, and if you are a new hire, well, it may take even longer. Be prepared to accept a position within the career you want earning less than you do now. 6. Outdated resume If the last time you updated your resume was when Reagan was President and TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart confessed to a sin, then it is definitely time to modernize your resume before sending it to potential employers. Nothing screams unqualified to a potential employer more than an irrelevant resume. Research the best resume format for your skills and experience and proceed to fill it with applicable information relating to your career objective. 7. Lack of self-knowledge You say you want to be a flight attendant yet you've never been on a plane. How do you know then that you will enjoy this career? Or perhaps you are a night owl but are seeking work in a bakery? Make sure that you identify interests that are based on sound experience. Being conscious of your likes and dislikes will help you avoid potentially disastrous career choices. 8. Lack of interview skills Again, if you've been out of the job market for some time, chances are your interviewing skills have become rusty and could benefit from some improvement. Consider seeking the assistance of a job coach at your local employment agency or enrolling in a job search course at a community college to brush up on those important skills. After all, you don't want to strike out with a potential employer during the interview process. 9. Lack of technology skills If you use a typewriter to create memos, a pencil and paper to keep track of appointments, and only use a computer to play solitary, then you definitely need to improve your technology skills. The reality is that most employers require some type of technology knowledge in today's careers. Many libraries, employment agencies, and community colleges offer some type of basic computer training. 10. Financially unprepared Before you submit your letter of resignation to your current employer, make sure you have at least six months of living expenses in your bank account. This is the average amount of time it takes to find a new job. Being financially prepared will enable you to dedicate your time and energy in changing careers. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER Being aware of the potential pitfalls that lurk around the corner gives you a strong edge when deciding to change careers because it allows you to avoid them. Be smart and guarantee a successful career change by making yourself knowledgeable of these common mistakes.

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