Kym Harris, certified career coach and founder of Your SweetSpot Coaching and Consulting, says she has many clients who make midlife career changes. She adds that the desire for change in our lives is quite natural because “over time our values change and our interests broaden.” Below are five tips from Harris on accepting your craving for something new and how to successfully go about making a midlife career change.
Understand the “why”: According to Dr. Harris, one of the first steps to making a career change is understanding the driving desire for change. She encourages professionals to ask themselves questions about whether or not they have unresolved issues at work and if there’s a sudden realization that their values don’t align with their existing career, or if this is a realization that’s been there all along. “Exploring the ‘why’ is a great place to start,” she says. “This helps to confirm that change is what an individual is truly seeking.”
Clarify your values: It’s important for professionals to have a sense of awareness about their personal values and what it is they’re looking for in their desired career. Ensuring that your hunger to change careers is value-based and supports your life priorities “will enhance the level of satisfaction that comes from the change,” Harris advises.
Do your research: Before making any changes in your career, one of the most important steps is to research the ins and outs of your desired field including what it takes to break into the industry, what it takes to be successful and some of the challenges that come along with reaching that success. Dr. Harris advises not to get caught up in the glamorous aspect of that career field and to really dig deep to see what grunt work has to be done and what key skills are needed to make it in that business
Conduct informational interviews: With any career change, it’s recommended that you reach out to other professionals in your desired field whose careers you admire to see if they’re willing to meet in person, over the phone or on Skype to offer advice and wisdom about how to thrive and be competitive in that industry. Not only will this help to build up your network of connections, but it will also give you a realistic view of what challenges other people went through to get to where they are. However, Dr. Harris warns professionals not to be so quick to use informational interviews as a backdoor to inquire about job opportunities, stating that “informational interviews are simple a way of gaining more information about a career interest.”
Close the skill gap: In doing your research and connecting with other professionals, Dr. Harris advises you to see what skills you’re missing, if any, and to take the initiative to gain those needed skills whether it be through training, volunteer work, certification or another degree. “The old adage, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ may not be the best thing to lean on,” she says. “In these competitive times, when so many people are looking to change careers out of necessity, it’s important to leverage your network and market a comprehensive portfolio of relevant skills.”
To find out more about Dr. Harris’ coaching services visit LiveInYourSweetspot.com.