10 Myths About the Career Change Process

by Visconti, Ron Friday, April 25, 2008
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During my 20 + years of counseling and career work with hundreds of individuals, I have noticed various recurring themes that always surface among career changers. It is not that career change is effortless - quite the contrary, career change is hard work. However, please do not rule out the possibility of career change, because you might think it will require more effort and planning, because in the end it will be more satisfying.

Here is my list of the top ten reasons why career candidates seem to shy away from the idea of career change:

1. A Career Change Will Be Too Difficult

Any change, even a minor one requires extra planning, implementation, and evaluation. The career change process is often seen by others as a monumental, insurmountable step. Sometimes, applicants can take a mini-step towards career change that might lead to greater satisfaction in their professional lives such as:

• Changing industries but not roles (for example, going from IT in corporations to IT in government/ or nonprofit)
• Changing roles in one own industry (when you work in a particular industry , you will have the inside track)
• Changing departments with the same role.
• Taking on a new career path as a supplemental or extra income basis. For instance, if you wish to teach adults, start teaching on a part time basis. Or if you wish, to start a consulting business, to take on one client initially, to get your feet wet.

2. I Am Too Old To Change

Age is only a manifestation of your own mindset and motivation to change. Of course, some fields more than others, might have age requirements. In general, there are many ways to reach your goal.

I have seen second careerists do some dramatic things. A good book about this very topic is: Second Acts : Creating the Life You Really Want, Building the Career You Truly Desire by Stephen M. Pollan, Mark Levine. Any change - even small in nature - might mean more learning, new skill development, more energy, and increased networking.

3. I Am Going Make Less Money

Get the facts first before you jump to this conclusion. Sometimes, there might be a slight initial decrease in salary until you have become more experienced, but not always.

I have also worked with people who thought they were on the low (or high) end of the pay scale, and they were not. Always, get a gauge of your current and future worth. Talk with your colleagues, friends, and go on websites to find what employers are currently paying for your skills. Finally, if you really you have a true passion for something and it is doesn’t deliver the compensation you need, consider simplifying your life style.

4. I Need To Go Back To School

Not all changes require advanced degrees. In fact, I think there is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to go to school without fully investigating how other professionals reach their goals. You can conduct informational interviews or attend professional association meetings in order to get information about what is most critical to enter your desired field. Sometimes, modified programs such as certificate programs or a class or two might get you an entrée into the field. Staffing services or temporary agencies can also serve the purpose of getting your foot in the door.

5. Others Will Best Decide Where I Will Fit

It is very easy to want others to figure out what I want. That is not how it works. It is just plan hard work to really think about your skills, your motivators, your interests, and what employers and environments are right for you.

The blind answering of website ads or newspaper ads will not lead you to a new career change or path.

6. More Money Will Make Me Happier

Money is sometimes merely a symptom of the problem. In fact, if you make a job or career move solely due to money, you might find out that nothing has really changed about your career. We all need to make a living wage, however, money alone, will not give you satisfaction. Unless you probe deeper, you might be stuck in the same career box.

7. My Job Is Making Me Unhappy, Therefore, I Want To Change

It is important before you leap to know why are leaping. Do a critical analysis of what really makes you happy. What skills do you enjoy using? What is your preferred mode of working? Where do you think you would thrive?

Sometimes, it is not the job per se that makes you unhappy, but rather the company, the people, the boss, with whom you work. If it is the wrong environment - a toxic environment - then it is time to look on the outside (not necessarily a career change).

8. This Is Not the Right Time For Change

We all balance other responsibilities in our lives. It is important to look at these issues as well, however, sometimes, we use these things as a crutch, or a reason not to change. And, yes…timing is important, however, if you really want to, you can make the time.

9. Career Change Is Something External

Career Change is a serious and important step, but, is not something done to you, it is an internal process.

How you deal with change is psychological and emotional. Bill Bridges, in his book, Transitions, talks about the “neutral zone,” - that uncomfortable, in-between place where you are not quite there. We all experience important life transitions, such as the death of a family member, the empty nest syndrome, a recent marriage or divorce, etc. These are external changes, things that happen to us. How we deal with those changes is internal in nature.

10. Career Change Will Require Little or No New Marketing

Part of career change is developing a new perception and strategy about you - by re-packaging your skills and projecting what you can do in a new role. This requires careful re-shaping of your resume, talking to professionals currently in the field, reading career books, and communicating what you can and would like to do.

The career change process is not a haphazard process. Whether you are a taking mini-career step or a large one, it requires careful planning. The journey also brings new insights and new and exciting ways to expand your career search.