Have you ever sat at your desk one morning, only to realize that your current career path isn’t the one for you? Whether you’ve been working in the industry for decades or are a young professional, a career change can present several challenges, but can also reap many rewards.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is impossible to estimate the number of times people change careers during the course of their lives. The BLS claims that it is too difficult to distinguish between an occupational change and a career switch. Until economists, sociologists, and other labor market observers come to a consensus on what constitutes a career change, the BLS won’t be able to collect any data on the subject.

But, do you know of anyone who has swapped industries? A coworker, neighbor, friend? Chances are you know someone who has made the daring move—use them as your example to take the plunge!

The career change process is not one to be taken lightly. There are many factors one must consider before, during, and after the entire feat.

Before the Change

When you decide to leave your current company, you need to be aware of the risks that come along with it. Perhaps the biggest concern is the money you will make in your new position. It is important to ask first, will you make less than what you are making now, and second, will you be able to live off of your new income?

Russell Clayton, University of South Florida professor and author of the Harvard Business Review article, “Can You Afford to Change Your Career?”, offers great insight on the topic. He suggests trying to live on your expected income for two months prior to making the decision to say goodbye to your current job or industry. Two months does seem like a long time, but it is the perfect amount of time to scrutinize your spending. Besides, wouldn’t you want to know if you’ll survive before you turn in your notice?

Wilson also suggests creating an emergency fund and assessing your household’s risk tolerance.

During the Change

Once you’ve assessed your financial situation and made the commitment to change your career, you must think about how you can market your current skills and experiences to the new industry you are considering. Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You, recommends leveraging the “halo effect” and tapping into your network.

According to Clark, the “halo effect” describes the initial evaluation one person makes on another person. This means that people either view others as “totally good and competent, or totally bad and incompetent.” So, if you are a highly experienced individual, make sure others view our success in your former field as a success all around.

If you’ve been a working professional for several years or even have a LinkedIn profile, chances are you have a large network. Even if the majority of your professional contacts are in your old industry, some of these contacts might know other people in your new industry. Don’t be afraid to use your network to your advantage and connect with people that can help you get your foot in the door.

After the Change

When you finally accept a position in your new industry, your mind still might be flooded with worry about the unknown. It’s like going to college for the first time all over again. You need to make new friends and fall into a new routine.

But, don’t let your worries overpower your confidence. You’ve clearly articulated your value well to the hiring manager and were given the position for a reason.

If you need help navigating your new industry, connecting with your newfound co-workers, or communicating your relevant skills effectively, iGenCo is here for you. Together let’s rehumanize the workplace and help you fall in love with your new career.

For more information on retargeting your skills to meet your new career path, read part two of our “Navigating Your Career” series.

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