Over the past several years, moving between companies and even jumping between industries has quickly become the norm and an increasing number of professionals are making major career changes 10, 20, or even 30 years into their original intended path.

Whether you’re returning to employment after a hiatus, coming out of retirement, or restarting with something fresh, switching careers can be a daunting endeavor. In our fast-paced business world, you may be worried that you will be left behind before you even get started.

The good news is that many individuals have relaunched or refreshed their work life with great success and it’s possible for anyone with some smart, solid planning. Here are six of the top considerations to keep in mind as you get ready to take the plunge:

  1. What are your reasons? Are you in search of more money, or do you just want to keep busy? Are you simply bored with doing the same thing day-in and day-out? Determining why you want new or different work will help steer you.
  2. What are your skill gaps? Some career shifts are easier than others. If you’re hoping to enter a career requiring specialized skills like the medical field, you may need to return to school. For other careers, you may be able to engage with a seminar or small-scale professional development opportunity to get your feet wet or start earning your required certifications.
  1. Have you volunteered in your target industry? Not all industries or career paths may have volunteer opportunities. However, if yours does, it gives you a great chance to feel out whether you might be happy in the new industry, as well as get your foot in the door to learn about what you might need for your new job. Using tools like LinkedIn or Meetup can help connect you with professionals you might be able to volunteer with or shadow if you don’t already have contacts in the new industry.
  2. What are your dreams and aspirations? For many people, a dream job is one that combines dreams and aspirations with work that makes enough money to create a comfortable lifestyle. Making a list of your goals, aspirations, and “must-haves” can help you determine how to find a job that infuses your work with your personal values. If you are a more visual person, fashioning a career vision board can help you visually display your goals. For others, a traditional list of goals may work better.
  3. Figure out your finances. Can you afford to take some time off of work to explore? Will you need to spend another year in your current job to save up a buffer? Make sure to take into account your current income, investments, and the trajectory of your intended path. If you are planning to start your own business, be sure to consider start-up costs and ramp up time.
  4. Who is in your support network? As you pursue a career change, you will need to surround yourself with people who cheer you on and support your new path. Friends, family, mentors, and contacts in your new industry can help you meet challenges and celebrate you when you reach milestones.

Starting a second career may feel like turning your life upside down, but with good planning and a clear vision, it doesn’t have to. If you’re thinking about starting your second career, contact Sharkey, Howes & Javer to meet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

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