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6 Things to Consider When Pursuing a Career Change

When is enough, enough?

When do you know when it’s time to update the resume and seek better?

I have a best friend who, since graduating from college, has never stayed at the same job for more than four years. I used to find it amusing that she was able to obtain a new and better job with a resume that showed a move to different jobs every four years. Before you ask, no, it was not a promotion. She would leave the company and start with another. Now, I was always told that you must remain on your job for at least five to ten years before you change to show stability. But looking at her track record, she had no problem getting a better job, and a better-paying job with companies that fought to keep her and paid her what she asked for. So I must ask, when is enough, enough? How many years do you think one must stay on a job before they leave?

As I approach my 10th year within the federal government, I am starting to ask myself this. With the state of affairs, the inconsistency of regulations and the deliberate methods to fire people, what is my next step? When looking at pursuing a job or career change, what should you consider? Yes, I did say job or career because I believe that they come with a different level of perspective, loyalty and commitment. For example, they are defined as such:

  • A job is a paid position of regular employment.
  • A career is an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress, meaning working permanently in or committed to a particular profession.

As you see, a career implies a longer commitment whereas a job is just for money, so you have to know what kind of employment you seek. Is this just a paid gig or a retirement goal? In addition, here are more things you should consider when you feel that enough is enough!

  • Start With the Why: So many people know they hate or have outgrown their jobs, but they don’t have much awareness beyond that. You’ve got to get clear on the why before you just start steamrolling toward something new. Otherwise, you could end up in a different spot, but one that you still ultimately hate — and what’s the point of that effort?
  • Get Clear on the What: What does this new job or career look like? What does it not look like? What’s it called? Also, a very important question to consider: Do I have any career capital in this? In other words, are you going to be able to leverage your skills, your contacts and your professional brand to make a successful transition?
  • Figure Out What It’s Going to Take: Are you lacking certain skills that you need to be an attractive candidate for this new role? Do you need certifications? Classes? Licenses? Sometimes, even if you do, it’s entirely within reach. It could be a simple matter of taking an online course and gaining some baseline proficiency so that you can say confidently, “Yes, I know Excel” or “Yes, I can work in QuickBooks.”
  • Make an Action Plan: Begin with the end in mind. What’s your primary goal and ideal timeline? Assign yourself daily or weekly tasks so that you know exactly what you’ll be doing when you sit down in front of your computer in the name of “career pivot.” You don’t want to freewheel this.
  • Shift Your Brand: You will need to shift your professional brand so that you make sense to your new target audience. Simple rule: The easier you make it for them to “get” you, the better the odds that they’ll want to know more. Your competitors, at least some of them, are going to look great on paper because they’ve been in that industry or worked in similar roles for several years. So how are you going to brand yourself in a way that not only makes you seem logical, but maybe positions you as a clear standout?
  • Get in Cahoots With the Right People: You absolutely must get to know passionate and successful people working within that new field of interest. The best way to approach this is by paying a compliment or noting something that they’re doing that seems interesting or impressive. After you build a bit of rapport, then you can ask for a favor or a bit of their time.

If you think and execute these steps, your next move just might land you in your new career!!

See you at orientation!

Charron Hopson-Swift is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Lisa Salinas

I first heard you owe your employer one year. Recently, I heard two years. This is the first I’ve heard five years. The other day, I read a comment on LinkedIn that said we don’t owe our employer anything! I have a friend who has been getting a new job about every six months for the past couple years. Hers have all been promotions, so hooray for her. It’s hard for me to imagine someone hiring someone who looks like she’ll only stay a few months, but she’s been managing to get it done.

You’ve got some great pointers here. Thanks for posting!