Nearly eight months ago, I jumped ship. For more than a decade I had worked in the magazine industry, pursuing a career in writing and editing for glossy national titles (many that you would recognize from the supermarket checkout line or even your own mailbox). If my experience in any way resembled The Devil Wears Prada, this would be a juicy, sympathetic tale. In truth, I worked with caring, compassionate, and creative professionals, and it was a difficult decision to steer my career in a different direction. That being said, I’m 110% glad that I took the leap and trusted my instincts that it was time for change.
You may be in the same boat now, wondering what opportunities await you in a new career. Ask yourself the following five questions (I did) to help you decide what’s next on the horizon.
1. Does this new career fit my lifestyle (or the lifestyle I desire)?
Do you enjoy the structure of a nine-to-five workday? Would working consistent overtime or irregular hours put a kink in your daily plans? Will the new career you’re considering still allow you to get in your much-needed family time? Consider the answers to all these questions carefully before you make your decision.
2. What will my new work environment be like?
If you’re thinking about jumping to an entirely new industry, your work environment and culture could change drastically. Make sure you’re comfortable with your new setting before you commit. Research the industry to get a good picture of how your environment might change. And keep in mind that the culture of a particular company can differ from the industry as a whole. Ask family and friends who are currently in the field what their experience is like.
3. What are the long-term opportunities of this career move?
In a hurry to get out of their current careers, a surprising number of job changers overlook this crucial question. Make sure you know what your opportunities are long term. What does your career path look like? Is there room to move up in the ranks? How much money can you expect to earn over the long haul if you consistently progress in your career? How much money will you make if you don’t? Making sure your long-term life goals (like retirement) match up with your long-term career goals is a major step in determining if a career move is right for you. That being said, maybe money isn’t a major factor in your move. Consider all benefits that may be gained.
" Making sure your long-term life goals (like retirement) match up with your long-term career goals is a major step in determining if a career move is right for you. "
4. What does this new career offer that my current career doesn’t?
If you haven’t already done so, sit down and write out a list of “cons” about your current career. After you know exactly what you don’t like, you can start to determine if changing careers will help you eliminate some or all of these concerns. You may even realize that the things you don’t like are entirely fixable where you currently work.
5. What skills will I need to be successful in my new role?
This might be the most important question you ask yourself. Before making any decision, you’ll need to determine if you currently have the skills you need to be successful. If you don’t, you’ll want to find out how to get them. This could mean going back to school, earning a more advanced degree, or earning an industry-specific certification.