Career change has been the buzzword ever since the recession hit hard across the globe. There have been reports and articles talking about the new shift in the job scene in this century and a career change might be likely for many of us to get moving with the flow.

These are the times when we are seeing more people returning to school for a new degree or higher education in their field of work or planning on changing their careers to the “new world post-recession” workplace where the cleantech and “renewable energy” sectors might be the dominant hiring industries.

Change is everywhere and a career change might be on your agenda as well this year.
Very well said by Anthony J. D’Angelo:
Become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.
Well, easier said than done, transitions can be stressful and traumatic too. In this article let’s evaluate what are some steps that you can take to overcome the challenge of a career transition.
But first – What is the difference between job change and career change?
Let’s first look at the definition of job, according to the dictionary:
  1. A piece of work, esp. a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price
  2. A post of employment; full-time or part-time position
  3. Anything a person is expected or obliged to do; duty; responsibility

A Career according to the dictionary is:

  1. An occupation or profession, esp. one requiring special training, followed as one’s lifework
  2. A person’s progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking

I am sure you get the point that there is a large difference between a job and a career. You may change a job within a career of choice but a career change is a larger and perhaps a longer process. However a well said explanation of the difference between a job and career comes from Earl Nightingale:

The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!

What makes a career change daunting is that it requires and update or retraining on your skill set (well, most often) and that often takes a long time and effort. Here are 5 steps you can tailor to your needs on the way to overcoming the challenges of a career change:


Identify your Fears

Identify and list your fears of a career change. Why do you fear this transition and what aspects of this transition seem the toughest to you? Sometimes eliminating the negatives before getting on the positives is the best way to proceed on the new path. To identify your fears and then attain the freedom from fear releases the tensions and enables the positives to take the place of the uncertainties which reside deep within. List everything possible that seems like a hurdle or any unknown fears that you have.


Embrace and be Inspired by this New Change

It is now time to move on to the positives and let the positives only inspire you to an excited beginning. It would be a new change and it would not come easily and happily to you if you do not accept the change with your heart and mind. The second step is mental preparedness and feeling excited about this new step in your life. Take time and write out at least a few pages in a document on what is motivating you towards this career change, for example: more money, more satisfaction at work, a new challenge or any other need. The point is during the career change process you will need a lot of inspiration and motivation to drive the change and do your best to have it flow from you first.


Identify your Goals

As for every achievement in life, you cannot get there unless you have a goal in mind and also not only in mind but in concrete plans. Clarify your goals first. When changing a career you must identify your short-term goals and long-term goals towards achieving either new skill set or preparing for a new job. Spend time in planning and making your goals SMART.


Financial Planning

Now with your goals in mind chart out your estimate on financial commitment towards this career change. Money matters and financial pressures and tensions are the worst of tensions that can drive you off from any commitment, take care of them at the very beginning and this can be achieved by careful planning and practical analysis of what all is covered during your new career change move. You may also discuss this important step with your spouse, family or coach to get a good handle of what the near future might have in store for you as go for higher studies, certifications or retraining.


Seek Mentors and Guidance

Now with your personal fears, goals and planning taken care of, it is time to move on to the 5th but again a very important step towards the career change. Ask others. Ask and you shall get, there would be many questions as you walk this new transition.
  • Would a new degree help in getting my dream job?
  • Does a short-term course suffice for getting the skills I need?
  • Will there be a demand for this new career or field around 5 years from now?
  • What are current employers looking for?

There would be numerous questions on your mind right now. It is time to list them first and then seek guidance and help from mentors, career experts or those you know have been through a similar transition. It always helps to ask and cuts down on your anxiety curve. The sooner you learn from others experience the faster you would be able to transition satisfactorily.