Changing Careers Successfully: When You Want to and When You Have to (Part 2)
In Part I of this Changing Careers Successfully article series, we discussed how sometimes you may choose to change careers and I shared some tips on how to do it successfully. In Part 2, we will explore how to change careers when you have to make the move due to external factors that are out of your control. Below are some of the main reasons you may need to change careers:
Changing Careers When You Have To
Mergers & Acquisitions. The most common reason employees are sometimes forced to change careers is due to mergers and acquisitions. The reasons for a company to merge, acquire, or be acquired are many. And the reasons really don’t matter to the employees who are affected by these decisions. Often companies merge because it’s the best for both organizations to work together and offer their clients better products and services. Sometimes companies sell due to lack of succession planning which is a problem across industries in America. Yet other company owners sell because they see an opportunity to exit at the right time making substantial gains in their investment. All these decisions affect employees’ job situations.
Company Restructures. Companies downsize, restructure, and lay employees off. The reasons vary. Sometimes companies restructure to survive an economic downturn that affected their specific industry negatively. Other times the leaders choose to take the company in a new direction and that may require the organizational design to change. Yet other times, due to regulatory issues or internal fraud, a company is required to make structural changes which results in employees losing their jobs.
Family Changes. Family issues can also play a role in changing careers. Because of the rising cost of childcare some couples decide it is financially wiser for one of them to stay home and raise their children until they start attending school. If this is your case, when you decide to return to the workplace, you may find that a different career suits your family situation better at that time. Each family is different depending on your situation and which spouse has the most earning potential at the time. If you have aging parents, you may need to make a change to care for them. Some parents may require full-time care while others just need additional help with some of their tasks. Lastly, another reason to switch careers could be due to your own health.
As I shared in Part I of this article, I have changed careers several times during my working life. Below are additional tips that helped me in changing careers successfully when I felt the need to make a move:
- Avoid taking these decisions personally. Instead, understand it is a business decision. Life does not end with the loss of your job and your identity should not be tied to your job or career. Look at the situation as an opportunity to learn new things and continue to improve as an individual.
- These may be temporary events in your life and, if you are planning to go back to the workforce later, stay connected with the right people and improve your skills while you are at home.
- When you feel your role in an organization is finished or completed, take the first step toward opening yourself up to the possibilities of a career transition. That first step is opening your mind for change.
- Have a list of accomplishments throughout your career and in the different jobs you have held. List your contributions to the company and the results.
- Keep your network active. Ask your business colleagues what the necessary skills are and what education and training are necessary in order to be successful in their field.
- Plan, plan, plan! Research the new field you want to change to by reading trade magazines, search the Internet, read the news, contact people in that specific field and possibly join a professional association to meet people in the field. Prepare yourself!
During the entire transition process, you will need to keep in mind the cost. There is a price we all pay when we decide to change careers but there is also a cost to stay on the same track. When the price of staying is higher than the price of leaving, then it is a good time to make the change and move on. Be prepared to take a cut in pay. Sometimes it may be necessary to start at a lower level in a different career path to advance and learn about that field. There is also the cost of going back to school which may be necessary for you to change careers. The money is not the most important part of your job, being happy is. When you are happy, you will be successful and then promotions come.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to change careers because of your age. Some of the most successful business people and entrepreneurs changed careers in their later years. They went from having a job or a career to having significance in their lives with deeper meaning and leaving a lasting, positive legacy.
Changing careers successfully is not the easiest thing, but I hope these tips help you on your journey.