Switching careers is a big step, and you think you're ready to take it. But are you really prepared for such a big change? Did a few bad days at work leave you ready to throw in the towel, or have several years' worth of unhappiness given you the motivation to try something new? Have you thought carefully about the personal and professional implications of making a switch, or have you decided that anything is better than what you're doing?
Take this quiz to find out if you're really ready to switch careers:
1. Why do you want to change careers?
A. I've had a really stressful few weeks, and I can't take it anymore.
B. I don't get along with my team, and I don't fit in with the company culture.
C. This is my third job in the same field, and I still haven't found a role that I find fulfilling.
2. About how long have you been working in the same field?
A. A few months
B. Two to three years
C. Five-plus years
3. What have you done to prepare for a career switch?
A. Nothing yet, but it can't be that hard.
B. I've started thinking about what else I'd like to do and have looked into a few opportunities.
C. I've created a plan, I've spent a lot of time researching the new industry, and I've set up several lunch meetings with people in that industry.
4. Do you know what you want to do next?
A. No, I haven't had time to think about it, because I've been so busy and stressed.
B. I've thought about it, but I don't know what else I'd be good at besides what I do now.
C. Yes, I've known what I want to do for some time now; I just haven't found the right opportunity yet.
5. What are you willing to do to change careers?
A. Spend a couple hours a week looking for a new job.
B. Meet with a career counselor to discuss my career options.
C. Take courses three days a week to acquire skills needed for the new career.
Mostly A's: Not ready -- or not for the right reasons
It's tough to have a bad day at work. It's really rough to have a few weeks' worth of bad days. But be careful not to act too quickly before you've truly given the job a chance. When things are stressful, it's easy to want to throw in the towel, but if you wait it out, you may realize that things aren't as bad as they may seem. It can take some time to get into the groove of a particular position, and it's normal to feel a little frustrated if it takes some time to catch on to everything. But once you do, you may find that you actually like what you do and enjoy working with those on your team.
Mostly B's: Ready to make a switch, but not to a different career
It seems as though you've been struggling with your job for some time. But before you make a career switch, consider whether it's what you're doing or where you're doing it. Make a list of what it is that you don't like. If you find that it's mostly things associated with the particular company at which you're working such as your colleagues or manager, the company's culture or your clients -- it may be worth looking for a new job instead of a new career. Chances are you enjoy the basic elements of the role, but you just haven't found exactly the right fit yet. Now that you know what it is you want in a job, you can be more focused about finding your next position.
Mostly C's: Ready to switch careers
If you answered mostly C's, you've likely been following the same career path for several years, held multiple similar jobs and have yet to find one that's fulfilling. You've also taken the right steps toward discovering what it is you want to do next. You know that switching careers is a big deal, so instead of rushing into it, you're doing your research, gaining skills to help you in your new field and making important connections with people in that field. Make sure that when you do make the leap, you're jumping to a career that you're passionate about and could see yourself doing for a number of years. While there's no guarantee you'll love your new career, making all the necessary preparations should give you a good chance of happiness.
Debra Auerbach is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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