4 Common Mistakes Career Switchers Make and How to Avoid Them

Looking to change careers? Avoid these common mistakes

(Image: File)
(Image: File)

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an increasing number of people changing careers. Last year, Americans switched careers at the fastest rate in a decade; according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by St. Louis Federal Reserve Economist David Wiczer.

And if you spend any time watching business-based reality shows, such as Project Runway, Shark Tank or The Pitch, you’ll quickly realize many of the cast members have one thing in common—they’ve also switched careers. But take note, while many people say change is good, there are a few common mistakes that people make when taking a leap into uncharted waters.

Check out the 4 common mistakes and how to avoid them.

[Related: Switching Careers? 5 Tips for Reinventing Your Personal Brand]

Not creating a career strategy and action plan – Making a successful transition from one career to another is not an overnight process. You’ll need to create a career road-map that identifies where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and the best strategies for successfully launching your new career. Your assessment process should also identify the sacrifices, as well as the mindset you’ll need to develop to make it all happen. Does your new career align with your values, strengths, and interest? Do you need to take a pay cut? What about health & retirement benefits? If your income increases or decreases, what are the tax implications? To close any gaps, create a 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month action plan. Your plan should include SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, and timely) goals, and key action steps such as enrolling in courses to develop the skills and experiences you need for your new career, creating a monthly budget for an irregular income, building relationships with influencers in the industry, and navigating potential roadblocks.

Not finding a mentor or support network – Whether you’re making the switch from employee to entrepreneur, or from one career to another, you can’t do it alone. A mentor, sponsor or support network, such as Score.org, can help keep you accountable and provide you with the tools and resources needed to thrive in your career.

Not  promoting your transferable skills – Sure, your old work title or role may be a thing of the past, but your transferable skills may be the key to setting yourself apart from the competition. Transferable skills are the competencies that can be applied across a variety of roles. This includes soft, technical, and analytic skills.

Not conducting thorough research on your desired career – Before switching careers, do as much research as possible. Set up a few informational interviews with people in your desired industry. Attend industry- related events. Read articles and scroll through online industry forums to gain some insight from professionals currently working in the field. Do you need a professional license or degree? Does your new employer cover continuing education courses? What are the day-to-day challenges of people currently working in the industry? What about work-life balance? These things are typically not included in a job description, so learning about the nuances beforehand can help you make a well-informed decision.