According to a Harris Poll survey, the majority (52%) of American workers are considering a job change in 2021, and as many as 44% have plans in place to make the leap. Here’s a common scenario. You’ve been at the same company for years, and you feel stuck. Over the last 11 to 12 months, the thought of making a career change continues to creep into your consciousness. Then you ask yourself whether it is too late to switch companies or even make a career change to another industry.
A report released by Indeed shows that the average person who switches careers is 39 years old. So, career change isn’t just for twenty-somethings. I often work with clients in this situation. You’ve been at the same company for years, and while you feel stagnated and unchallenged, it’s still comfortable.
But you don’t have to settle. Instead, there are concrete steps you can take to overcome the fear and overwhelm associated with making a career change.
Do acknowledge that career change is scary
Even if it’s an activity you’ve been dreaming about for years, career change is scary. That’s normal. Research shows that the human brain perceives changing jobs as a life change that threatens its survival. In fact, the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale found that making a career change is one of the 20 most stressful things that happen in your life, just behind the death of a close friend.
Do make a list of quantifiable achievements
If you’ve been at your company for any length of time, you have accomplished a lot. But so many people neglect documenting their achievements on an ongoing basis. Then inevitably, when you go to update your resume, it seems like an insurmountable task. If your LinkedIn profile is a laundry list of dates and job titles, it’s time to create a “highlight reel” of your big wins so you can share it with the world. This exercise will also go a long way in boosting your overall self-confidence.
Do consider the “sweet spot”
The “sweet spot” is what I call the intersection of what you both enjoy and are good at. Chances are, your experience can translate into many different roles. But not all those positions will get you excited to jump out of bed in the morning. Write down a description of your perfect day. What are you doing, and whom are you working with? What does your office environment look like? By visualizing your future, you’ll get closer to making it a reality.
Don’t immediately update your résumé
The number one mistake people make when thinking about career change is to hurry and update their resumes. That’s because you want to feel like you’re “in action.” But unless you have a clear idea of your goal, this exercise will be a waste of time. Of course, a résumé is helpful if you know how you want to position yourself. But if you don’t know where you are heading, it will behoove you to wait a bit.
Don’t let the fear of career change paralyze you
The best way to combat fear is to take action, no matter how small. Once you identify that bigger goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable steps. Then develop a blueprint with action items and target dates to hold you accountable.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Getting stuck in your own head is one of the worst things you can do when planning a career change. Instead, make an effort to network with people in the industry or company you’re thinking of transitioning into. Find out all you can about what the day-to-day activities look like to determine whether it may be a good fit. A career change requires a lot of emotional support, so don’t hesitate to lean on friends and family. You may even consider engaging a coach or mentor who can provide an objective, professional viewpoint.
While it may not happen overnight, now is a great time to change careers. Geography is no longer a factor making more roles available as remote opportunities. And employers are more open than ever to hiring workers with unique skillsets. So don’t wait—because the only thing scarier than change is regret.