Career Change – Change Careers or Change Employers?

There are several reasons people find themselves evaluating their careers. Perhaps you lose interest or you find something that interests you more. Perhaps your company is downsizing. The first step to take is to make sure what you really want to do is change careers. Following are 10 considerations to ensure a path toward career change success.

(1) Assess your likes and dislikes - A lot of people change careers because they dislike their job, their boss or their company. Identifying the dislikes and examine your likes. What do you really like doing when you are at work, when you are at home - in your spare time? What are you passionate about? If you are not sure, consider taking a career assessment test.

(2) Research new careers - Spend some time researching the types of careers that involve your passions.

(3) Transfer skills - Leverage your current skills and experiences to your new career. There are many skills (i.e. communications, leadership, planning, etc.) that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your new career.

(4) Training and education - You may find it necessary to update your skills and broaden your knowledge. If the skill you need to learn is one you could use in your current job, see if your current employer would be willing to pick up the tab.

(5) Network - One of the keys to successfully changing careers will be your ability to network. People in your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry and introduce you to others to expand your network. Even if you don't think you already have a network, you probably do - consider colleagues, friends and family members.

(6) Gain experience - Keep in mind that you are essentially starting your career again from square one. Obtaining a part-time job or volunteering in your new career field not only can solidify your decision but give you much needed experience in your new career. Also, consider temping in your new field to gain experience.

(7) Find a mentor - Your mentor may be able to help you by taking advantage of his or her network.

(8) Change in or change out - Some people change careers, but never change employers. Remember not to start asking about a job switch until you are completely ready to do so.

(9) Job hunt - Prepare your resume, cover letter and references. Contact those in your network. Seek recruiters and search for job openings in newspapers and online.

(10) Be flexible - A new career may involve anything from accepting a lower salary at first to relocating to making a lateral move as a springboard for a bigger career change. Also, consider starting your own business or consulting as other avenues.

Use these tips and do some research to determine if you are truly interested in a career change, or simply interested in changing employers.