When an entrepreneur is looking to start a company, he or she generally writes out a business plan. As a working professional, you can do very much the same thing for your career. To advance your career or move to a new role, you might simply use a strategic plan. But if you are thinking of drastically changing careers, you might want something more detailed to assess your risks and opportunities. Think like an entrepreneur and develop a business plan for your career change:
Find out as much as you can about the new career and what it entails. Meet some people in that vocation or industry and ask them about their work. With access to blogs and forums and other social networking, you may even be able to do it from your home or computer. Ideally, you can try out the working environment by taking on an internship. Ask questions such as: What does someone working in your new dream career actually do? What tasks comprise 90% of their day? What are the hours like? Will it be a good fit for you?
You probably don’t want to invest too much time and energy preparing yourself to enter an occupation on the decline. Ask questions like: Are workers in your new career in high demand? What opportunities exist in your new line of business? Which companies hire these positions? Who should you get to know (recruiters, hiring managers, networking events, etc.)? Are jobs available in your city?
Find out what people successful in your new career look like. That is, what experience, education, skills, and behaviors do they have? For professional positions, you can search for your dream job title on LinkedIn or find bios/resumes of people who are doing what you want to be doing. Based on your research, identify some transferable skills that you already have and figure out which ones you need to develop.
Design and Development
How are you going to get from here to there? Do you need to go back to school for a new degree? How will you obtain new job #1? Hopefully you haven’t quit your current career yet and can craft a transition plan that allows for minimum of downtime between your careers. Perhaps you will do freelance or part-time work to gain some experience in your new career while holding down a full-time job in your current one. Or you may be able to go full-time right away, but keep a consulting gig that takes advantage of your experience and knowledge in your past career.
Operations and Financial Components
Even if you are making a career change for fulfillment rather than money (as the majority of second careers are), you can’t forget about the financials. Ask questions such as: Will you have to take a pay cut to get your foot in the door in your new profession? How much will the required training or certifications cost? Will you have to cut back on your expenses (even temporarily)? Will you have to relocate and is it feasible for your family to do so?
A career change is a big move, and it could be a big risk as well. But when you evaluate your options thoroughly, you can feel more confident in your decision to make a move. (Or to stay put.)