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5 minute read

8 of the Most Common Career Change Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to career decisions, whilst we should be courageous in taking leaps of faith, it also pays to be prudent with our choices. Beware of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. There are certain decisions that cannot be reversed, and while they might seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment, you might regret them later. To save yourself the grief, here are eight of the most common career change mistakes to avoid.

#1 Quit just because you’re bored

Sometimes you might be so sick and tired of doing the same thing day in, day out, that you just want out, whatever the cost. As tempting as it might be to just call it quits, ask yourself first – would resigning actually solve your problem?

Without understanding the root cause of your unhappiness at work, you would just be running away from the problem. Even if you land a new job, chances are once you’ve settled in, it might just be a matter of time before you start feeling restless again.

Have you explored the possibility of a job transfer within your company to a different department that might be of more interest to you? Or perhaps requesting for a promotion which will better utilise your talents and skills? There can be a multitude of reasons for your lack of engagement at your job, and it is important to identify the problem first to take constructive action and move forward.

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#2 Enter a new field just because it’s hot right now

Just because being a freelance fitness trainer looks cool and seems to be the hot new profession, does not mean you should do it too. Are you a good motivator? How do you really feel about health and fitness? Do you personally enjoy working out regularly?

The above is just an example, but the principles apply to whichever profession you’re considering switching to. Do you have the right skills and attributes to excel at this chosen career? Are you passionate and enthusiastic about the job? Taking on a job you have no interest in might be worse than staying where you are right now.

#3 Use money as your key criterion

Money might be important, but is not the be all and end all. Truth is, we can never have enough money or material possessions. It is what we do with what we have and how we use them to improve our quality of life that matters.

If you find a job you are passionate about which pays well, by all means, go for it. But if you find yourself having to settle on a less-than-ideal job just because it pays big bucks, it probably comes with a catch.

#4 Quit your job without having at least 6 months’ worth of emergency savings

It’s important to take risks, but make sure they’re calculated risks. After resigning, you would likely need time to figure out the new career path to embark on. Even if you already know what you want to do, it still takes time to secure a suitable job in that field. In the meantime, you will still need to pay the rent and put food on the table.

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#5 Expect it to be a smooth transition

Change is often fraught with complications. It is important to manage your expectations and brace yourself for the initial challenges when transitioning into a new career, so you don’t get frustrated and demotivated during the process.

Talking to those who have done it before can give you an idea of what to expect. It’s also a good idea to get a personal account from friends or acquaintances working in your chosen career field as to what the job really entails, so you don’t get any nasty surprises.

#6 Think a career counsellor can hand you a job

Sure, a career counsellor can give you sound advice and guidance, but they can’t tell you definitively what career path you were born to take. It’s tempting to hold onto the hope that someone out there can give you an answer key to your career, but in reality, we need to figure it out for ourselves. 

Professional advice and insights can offer you new perspectives and resources to make those necessary steps towards getting a new job – but don’t expect anyone else to have it all figured out for you.

#7 Limit your options

If you’re going to make a career change, then it’s time to cast aside any doubts about your abilities and explore hidden depths and talents with an open mind. Do your research, read about different career options you might not have considered before, and do self-assessment exercises. You could even take up voluntary work as an experiment.

The point is not to limit your options to what you’ve done before, and take this as an opportunity to discover yourself. You might be surprised!

#8 Underestimate the significance of the change

Make sure you’re not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Choosing to make a career change is a courageous move, but be careful that the new job doesn’t conflict with your values and priorities.

For example, if the new job demands long nights and working weekends, it might become a big problem if you’re a working parent with young kids to care for. Don’t just shrug it off and think you’ll figure it out later. Even something simple such as a job that involves a high degree of social media activity might affect your ability to deliver, if you happen to be someone with zero online presence due to privacy concerns.

The key is to consider the career change carefully before committing to it, so you don’t end up regretting your decision later. That said, don’t wait until you’ve got it all figured out before taking the leap. You can’t predict the future; all you can do is have a plan which you can adapt as needed.

 This article is contributed by JobStreet.

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