5 Things to Keep In Mind When Changing Careers

There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering a career change

by Lauren Brookes

There are few areas that cause feelings of stress and uncertainty as much as the thought of changing careers. After all, it’s not only looking for relevant positions and trying to assert yourself as the best candidate. You must also be on your toes throughout the entire experience in order to seize a good opportunity – as it’s imperative to keep your skills sharp to avoid losing out to another competitive job seeker.

If you’re currently unhappy with what your career situation looks like, you’re probably ready to start scouting for new options. While starting out on a new job hunt can surely be overwhelming, here are a few questions you can ask yourself that will help you better navigate the murky waters of job searching:

1. What Does Your Ideal Job Look Like?

Realizing that you are unhappy with where you’re currently at career-wise is the first step towards improving your situation, but it shouldn’t end there. Too many people get so entangled in their unhappiness at a position that they accept any job offer that gets them away from their current job and into something new.

While this way of thinking is understandable, it’s important to conduct the necessary research to ensure that you won’t hastily jump into a position that leaves you just as miserable as you were before. If you wish to end up in a position that you’ll actually see a happy future in, take time to specify the things you dislike at your current job and also highlight what you feel would make you truly satisfied. Here are a few things to start thinking about:

  • Salary. Money matters, and if you feel that you’re currently underpaid for the work you’re doing, search for a company that is willing to pay you the industry standard.
  • Benefits. Health insurance, sick days, child care/parental leave, vacation time, bonuses, etc. are all elements that contribute to workplace satisfaction. While you might not be able to find someone who provides all of these exactly how you see fit, look for something that comes close.
  • Work-life balance. A study conducted in 2015 reported that 75% of employees listed flexibility in the workplace as the most important benefit a company can offer them. Better work-life balance also has been shown to increase productivity and reduce employee turnover. As you can see, feeling that you have more time to focus on your personal development, your family, and your friends will most likely lead you to feeling happier with your career, so seek out an employer who values this as well.
  • Stability of the company. The less stable a company is, the more stress will trickle down from the top and onto you. Likewise, you don’t want to settle down into a job that doesn’t have the most secure future ahead. To avoid issues like this, take your time to research a company before accepting an offer to see if it has a solid track record or a positive projection for success.
  • Commute. This may seem like a minuscule detail, but long commutes, especially with heavy traffic, can make employees dread heading into work. If you are the kind of person who just wants to get back home as soon as possible after a long day, this may be something that factors into your choices.
  • Opportunities for advancement. If your old job didn’t provide any opportunities for you  to advance and grow, avoid getting into the same stationary situation again. Do you research and ask questions before accepting an offer so that you are clear with how probable promotions and growth will be.

2. What Kind of Company Culture Will Fulfill You Best?

Being satisfied with the pay, benefits, and perks of a job plays a tremendous role in your overall happiness with your career, but it’s still not the entire picture. At the end of the day, clashing harshly with your superiors, your co-workers, or the work environment itself will still leave you feeling frustrated. While you don’t have to be best friends with everyone in the workplace, you should be able to clearly communicate, collaborate, and voice your opinion.

It’s difficult to judge if you will mesh with a company culture before diving in, but there are ways you can test the waters, such as:

  • Read over the company’s website. Does their mission statement seem relatable to you? Do the company’s values seem to overlap with your own? What do reviews on Glassdoor and Yelp say?
  • How was the interview? Did the interviewers seem to communicate well and treat you with respect?
  • Assess whether the workplace is a laidback startup or a by-the-books agency or corporation.
  • Simply ask. When communicating with the hiring professional, ask questions specifically about the workplace culture.

3. Can Your Skills, Experience, and Education Easily Relate to Multiple Positions?

When looking for a new job, it’s helpful to acknowledge your transferable skills. These are skills  that are valuable and applicable among different industries and employment opportunities. For example, if you are an executive looking for a new senior role, your past experience overseeing and organizing projects, setting deadlines, managing time, delegating tasks, solving conflicts and issues, etc. will be highly marketable even if you don’t choose to go into the exact same industry.

Analyzing your credentials and skills will help you expand your viable options during your job search, and when you realize how many of them can easily cross over to a different role or field, you might discover a new career path that you’ll fall in love with.  

4. What Issues Do You Refuse to Budge On, and Which Ones Can You Compromise On?

As noted above, illustrating the details of what your ideal job looks like helps establish what type of situation will be the most conducive to your long-term success and happiness. That being said, it’s extremely rare for a job to match every single preference that you have.

As with life in general, perfection is a myth more than it is a reality, so do some thinking as to what issues you are willing to compromise on and which ones you absolutely cannot budge on.

For example, you may be willing to work for a lower salary than you desire if it means you have more paid time off or are able to work from home from time to time. Differentiating your wants from your necessities will help you make more practical career decisions, and doing so will also give you a stronger foundation to negotiate with potential employers on.

5. Have You Considered Working With Executive Recruiters?

Job searching can be a turbulent and confusing experience, especially in competitive niches. If you don’t know where to start, or if you keep hitting dead-ends, it never hurts to reach out to hiring professionals. Executive recruiters are the matchmakers of the career world, and they work hard to match job seekers to relevant positions. They help the candidates who they select land and prepare for interviews and negotiate hiring terms.

While most recruiting firms are hired by employers to find qualified candidates (not the other way around), there are ways for you to get executive recruiters’ attention, such as:

  • Seek out a search firm that specializes in your niche. You can outreach to them directly and network and connect with them on LinkedIn. Don’t be overly eager or pushy, but just let them know you’re available.
  • Check their websites frequently for new job listings. Many executive recruitment websites have their own job boards that you can apply and send your resumes through directly.
  • Optimize your LinkedIn to use keywords effectively. Recruiters often search for qualified candidates using the position they’re recruiting for as the keyword (e.g., senior construction project manager). Place the title of the position you want to be hired for in your title, headline, summary, etc. so that your profile pops up when someone is hiring for that role.

And finally, 

Job searching can be a trying, time-consuming experience. Oftentimes you know you want something different, but you’re not exactly sure how to get it. The good news is that if you take the time to clarify what you do and don’t want out of a job and company, assess what transferable skills you have to offer, and learn how to best get hiring professionals to notice you, you should be well on your way to being to landing a great gig!



Lauren Brookes is a writer who loves to help dish out career advice to those in the mood for a career change. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the depths of beauty in Colorado, her home state in the USA.


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