How to plan your career change

Cliona Quaid 23.01.2018

A career change can be one of the most difficult decisions you make, and so a carefully thought-out plan is required before making a move.

 
It is important to decide what the rationale is for your move:
  • Is it career progression?
  • A change in management?
  • Financial benefits?
  • Or simply the need for a new challenge?
 
Whatever the reason, the decision must not be taken lightly and plenty of thought must be applied to your resolution.
 

Culture

When considering an employment opportunity you must evaluate the culture of the organisation and carefully determine if you would be a “good fit”. As HR best practice, most organisations pride themselves on providing a good place to work and the working environment is one of the key areas in attracting the right people. 
 
Skilled workers have the luxury to identify where they would like to work based on an organisation’s reputation and word of mouth is normally the most powerful way to lure people in.
 
The best advice I can give is to identify what type of working culture best suits you e.g. fast-paced, good work-life balance, promotion opportunities etc. and examine what working environment you consider yourself to thrive in.

Scope of the Role

You might have been fortunate to have accumulated an amazing array of experiences throughout your career.  It is important to make sure your new role is going to leverage your experiences while also exposing you to new challenges that would continue your learning.
 
This is where you can have a conversation with your recruitment consultant to gather their industry knowledge about an organisation you are considering moving to and take it from there. 
 
Find out the scope of the role if personal development is important to you.  If the expansion of scope is instrumental in pushing you to make the jump find out everything you can at the initial stages of the process and be honest with all stakeholders throughout.

Location

Location can ultimately be what influences people to change careers.  Many employment options can initially be ruled out based on location alone and it certainly is one of the key factors to be considered. Irrespective of your ‘dream job’, nobody wants to spend hours every day in traffic, driving stress levels up with a long commute eating into your down time.
 
It may be something you dismiss as a barrier at the early stages but do take your time to evaluate how this can influence your lifestyle before you apply for that job.  The whole process could prove to be a waste of time that could have been avoided if not carefully thought through at the early stages.

Risk

Depending on your stage of maturity it is worth considering the company’s potential longevity.  In other words, if this is to be a job for life, is this company going to be around in your lifetime?  This is where your extensive research comes to play by navigating the organisation, getting the bigger picture and in some ways trying to look into a crystal ball!
 
Many people baulk at the idea of changing to a start-up based on uncertainly and would rather go to a firm that is established.
 
There is no right or wrong answer here.  All I would advise is that you analyse your own risk and decide whether you can afford to take it.  A long-standing organisation might present itself as being the safer option but do consider, if a challenge is what you require in your career, a younger, smaller size firm may be what allows you to make most of an impact!
 

Financial and Benefits

Each HR professional is taught that money itself is no longer a motivator when changing career. People often make ill-informed career moves when they place too much weight on financial reward.  For many, it is important that the package on offer is progressive, but should never be the greatest influence in making your decision.
 
Reflect the scope of the role and investigate that the package is fair, given the level of responsibility, and carefully consider the other influences on the pyramid (Maslow Hierarchy of Needs).
 
In summary, evaluating a career move is extremely important and not something to be taken lightly.  Having a framework in place that helps you make a decision is just as important as the contents of that framework. 
 
Good luck!
 

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Cliona Quaid's picture
Consultant | HR
cquaid@morganmckinley.ie