The American Dream involves making a living doing what you love, but according to research, 4 out of 5 people are unhappy with their jobs and are looking to make a career change. Some employees may be looking for more challenging work while others are striving for a higher salary, but not many are ready to take the plunge and start searching for a new career.
It’s not easy making a career change when you take into account your age, income and debt. If you’re in debt, it might be scary to think of starting over somewhere new and at the bottom of a pay scale when your current job is helping to pay off that new house, car, or your children’s tuition.
When you leave your current career for a completely different one, you’ll find the shift trickier than if you were merely seeking new employment in the same field. Your new employer probably won’t be able to pay you the same rate or give you the same benefits, you may have to invest in extra training or more education, and you may even have to move to a new location to get hired. Regardless of your reasons for wanting to start over anew or make a career change, you must ready yourself for the things you might face.
How To Make A Career Change
Before you decide to quit your job and change careers, you should be able to do the following:
- Create A Practical Budget You Can Follow. There is great value in living within your means. Following a strict budget for the things you need and controlling impulse buying is crucial in obtaining financial freedom. Reducing your frivolous spending will be quite helpful in any emergency, including a career change that could result in lower earnings, such as starting a blog to make money online.
- Evaluate Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Take some time to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t let your strengths become weaknesses. Create a plan to improve on your weak skills and learn new ones, even if it means more training and education. Keep up on current trends and take advantage of training opportunities that will increase your productivity and make you a more desirable employee. Be proactive and take initiative rather than waiting on those around you to push you forward. Think about what you find appealing in a job and what you wish to avoid, and the importance of both in relation to your new career.
- Avoid Becoming Obsolete. We live in an age of technology, where machines are doing the jobs that people once did, but more efficiently and for a lower cost. Outsourcing has taken jobs from Americans and placed them in the hands of cheap labor in order to fulfill companies’ bottom lines. Stay alert and conscious of changes that could affect your job.
- Preserve and Advance Your Current Skill Set. Don’t let your strengths become weaknesses. Keep up on current trends and take advantage of training opportunities that will increase your productivity and make you a more desirable employee. Be proactive and take initiative rather than waiting on those around you to push you forward.
Financial Decisions To Make Before Changing Your Career
Regardless of your reasons for leaving your current job, when figuring out how to make a career change, be sure to maintain your relationships with your current boss and colleagues. You’ll want some good reference letters and those might be hard to obtain if you leave a trail of tears behind you when you leave. What’s even better is you may get some financial assistance to help with your transition.
1. Negotiate A Severance
If you are in good standing with your employer they will be more willing to put together a decent severance package for you, including your saved vacation or sick days and benefits for a limited time. Some companies are willing to pay a bonus if you’re willing to stay on for an allotted amount of time in order to finish up a project. You may even be able to switch to a part-time position in order to supplement your income while you’re looking or training for a new job.
2. Reduce Unnecessary Spending
It’s not likely your new career is going to bring you a financial windfall. In fact, your income is probably going to be significantly reduced. You must reduce (or cut out altogether) unnecessary spending and evaluate whether current monthly expenses are beneficial for your long term financial success. For example, do you really need life insurance? If you are unmarried and without children, you may not need to buy life insurance coverage at all. Another example is: do you really need cable television for the one or two shows you watch weekly? Why not transition to Netflix?
Finally, stop using your credit card. Contact your credit card company and explain your situation so that you can set up low monthly payment plans that accrue no interest. Staying within your budget is crucial during this transition.
3. Build Liquidity – Checking and Savings Accounts
When you have no income, you need to preserve the funds you have available. Put your retirement plan on hold by deferring payment until you have steady money coming in. Transfer your retirement investments into moneymaking or savings accounts. If you own your own home look into getting it refinanced – it could help lower your payments and get some money into your savings account.
4. Get Financial Assistance
If your decision to change careers is a result of a lay-off or termination, you should be eligible for unemployment benefits. There are also federal and state financial assistance and training resources. Take advantage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. If you are looking to further your education, you can apply for loans. Otherwise, get scholarships or grants you won’t have to pay them back. There are scholarships for single moms, and many more for the unemployed, but you must be proactive in accessing them.
Making A Career Change
No matter how prepared and confident you are about making a career change, the transition can still be a scary time and we all know life is good at creating unforeseen obstacles. There is no guarantee of success, and true happiness may seem just out of reach – but America is full of people who have changed careers or jobs, even creating their own companies.
A dream job is not inaccessible if you take the steps that will lead you there. Do your research. Choose a job that fits you well, stick to your plans, live significantly below your means, and be diligent in your efforts. Don’t put it off any longer!