Dice TV: A Good Time to Change Careers?

The Script

Okay, so you’re thinking of making a change – a drastic change – in the direction of your career. You know the old saying “look before you leap?” It was invented for this. I’m Cat Miller, and this is DiceTV.

Before you embark on a new career, take a long look at what you’re doing now.

What exactly is it that you don’t like about your job? Would you be happy doing the same thing somewhere else that offers more potential for advancement? Is your boss a jerk? Too much pressure all around? Don’t mistake these things for signs your field has nothing more to offer.

Next, think about what you do like about your job, your specialty, and IT in general. When times are tough, it’s easy to overlook the good things.

Avoid the “greener-grass” syndrome by learning as much as you can about the new field that interests you.

Would it solve the problems you’ve identified? Would it present you with a whole new set of issues you don’t face in IT? Consider all this carefully. After all, if you do make a switch and it turns out to be the wrong move, well – you’re right back where you started.

If you do decide to move, a fresh start doesn’t mean abandoning the assets you’ve developed.

Try to reassess your abilities from the perspective of someone outside your specialty. Make a list of your strengths – not just your technical skills – and consider how they might translate into a new role. For example, if you like leading projects, you might consider becoming a project manager. Effectively marketing your transferable skills will be a key to landing a new position.

And remember your network. It’ll never be more important than when you’re switching careers. If you’ve let yours go slack, get out there and re-establish contact. Go to conferences and professional association events in IT or any new field you’re considering. Look for ways you might be able to try out a new direction without diving in head-first. Volunteering is one way. Short-term consulting is another.

Approach a career change as a long-term investment, which might take years to pay dividends. Whether you decide to make that investment or not, taking a close look at all your reasons – and the possible consequences – will be time well spent. You’ll be able to go – or stay – with confidence.

I’m Cat Miller, this has been DiceTV, and we now return you to your regular desktop.

Comments

4 Responses to “Dice TV: A Good Time to Change Careers?”

November 19, 2009 at 9:53 am, Mike said:

Probably better than you making a list of your (perceived) strengths, is asking a mentor or other trusted person, who will be objective, to make a list of your strengths, or take some sort of “strengths finder” test. Many of us have strengths we don’t see, and too many believe they possess strengths that noone else has ever seen demonstrated. For example, just because you like leading projects does not actually mean you have the talent for leading projects; it might simply mean you are connected, bigger, louder or more extroverted than others who are more capable of project management. On the other hand, you might have never seen yourself as a teacher yet , when asked, friends will talk about how you are always sharing knowledge and teaching others.

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November 26, 2009 at 9:10 am, michael said:

All I can say dont burn the bridge from your old job to the new one. This means go per-diem first on the old one and take the new one for a test drive. Much like driving a new car first and if you dont like it you got that insurance to give it back and go get your old one and drive off. Its great to have a new job, new people to work with and not the whole same hum drum routine. But there is a price to pay as needing to fit in to get comfortable with the new surroundings.

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November 27, 2009 at 3:53 am, Stuart Araki said:

Changing careers is a hard thing when you’ve been doing the same thing for 30+ years. I realized that bad supervisors, clients and mundane projects all come and go. I have two problems that I’m working on overcoming: my age and the fact that for some reason, with the computer, everyone thinks they can be a graphic designer. This, coupled with the fact that the field seems to over-saturated has caused our pay rate to drop. I’m making about half of what I made 20 years ago. You will not believe how much I’ve had to downsize in my personal life just to make ends meet.
I working on it but not getting anywhere. What do I do???

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November 27, 2009 at 9:55 am, T. Richardson said:

In this economy, talking about what makes you happy and where your Nirvana lies is drivel. I am preparing to re-educate to cover for a 30 year profession that now has no marketability (Master Photographer). So, when I read this kind of what color is your parachute garbage in this day and age, I get a little torked. Let’s see something about recovering from a lost career and what jobs have real opportunity if your willing to retrain.
If the best advise you can offer is what I’ve just read, maybe I’ll see you on campus with the same intentions. I may not be the only one in this exchange that needs career change.
I’m aware that this is strongly worded. But, if you send this message with the intent of giving solid advise, you truly missed the forest surrounding the tree.

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