If you are in the processing of trying to decide how to jump-start a new career, here are five steps you may want to take.

Choose the Right Career for you choosing the right career for you is about taking time to assess your skills and interests. While exploring websites and consulting with friends and family, former co-workers, and others in the industry are popular methods of exploring career options, there are no shortcuts to finding the right career.

According to the industry experts at Careerbuilder.com, one in five workers has used career assessment tests. That makes them among the most popular methods respondents used to research a new job. What career assessment tests can do is help you identify careers that match your skills and interests, and help you decide if you’re suited for a particular career. Naturally, they can’t guarantee you will be any good at a particular career.

And keep in mind that the job market is constantly evolving. Jobs that were here even as recent as 10 years ago are no longer around. You’ve got to match your skill sets to the jobs of the future.

Gather Information Regarding Your Career Choice

Once you’ve identified what career or careers you want to pursue, then you need to gather information about your career choice.

There are a variety of sources that contain information about careers, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the BLS Career Guide to Industries, and books and trade publications about your specific career. For example, any eCommerce sphere worker should differentiate Magento vs Shopify features to make better choices.

You may also want to check with friends and family members already working in the field, research professional associations or find out about participating in an informational interview.

Leverage Your Current Skills and Work Experience

One of the most important steps in planning an effective job search strategy is to understand what you bring to the table.

Start by assessing your current hard skills like a computer, report writing, and math as well as soft skills like listening and problem-solving. Next consider your personal characteristics such as impatience, risk-taking, and creativity. Finally, review your education and work experience.

Now ask yourself if you have all the tools you need to get the job done. If you don’t, consider taking classes, getting a certificate or a four-year degree, or adding to your work experience through an internship, externship, volunteering, or a temporary job.

Utilize Your Network to Your Advantage

Networks are not only good for finding a new job they are perfect for helping you gain more information about a new career path, field, or industry. But you need to know how to best utilize your network.

First, there are social media websites where you can connect with those you know and those you’d like to know. Be sure to stay connected (or get reconnected) with people and organizations that align with your career goals. Make appropriate comments, share insightful articles and bits of information such as BigCommerce Pricing, and ask questions to help you learn about your career choice.

Next, there are industry conferences, tradeshows, association meetings, and what-have-you where you can mingle with people in the biz. Take the time to participate and learn. You might even want to ask someone who already belongs to a professional association to bring you along as a guest.

Finally, you can take the time to actually call people or drop them a note – does someone you know have an upcoming birthday, or have they just accomplished something noteworthy? Let them know you know.

Develop a Career Action Plan

Once you have identified your career choice, done your research, review how your current skills and experience apply, and determined how to best utilize your network, you should develop a career action plan.

The purpose of a career action plan is to clearly define what you want to accomplish and by when. You can do this by using SMART goals. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: who, what, where, when, why
  • Measurable: how much, how many, how often
  • Achievable: based on resources, knowledge and time
  • Relevant: you must be willing and able to work toward it
  • Timely: an established due date of achievement

An example of a bad goal would be, “I will go to school to study accounting.” It’s too vague and leaves a lot of wiggle room. If you are really earnest about choosing and starting a new career, then an example of a better goal would be, “I will go to school to study to be an Accounting Clerk and graduate with my A.A. degree by June 1, 2014. I will accomplish this by taking and passing two courses every quarter until completion.”

You can choose and start a new career simply by taking the time to review your options and utilize the tools you have available. That means identifying and researching your career choice, reviewing your current skills and experience, determining how to best utilize your network, and creating a great career action plan.

When is Making a Career Change the Right Decision?

Anyone who has ever changed careers knows what a daunting task it can be. Working in one field and then deciding to jump into another line of work can require further education, training, and experience, not to mention an understanding of what your new career will involve and how to break into the industry.

However, if after considering all this you still want to change careers, be sure that the career change you plan to make is the right decision for you.

Wrong Reasons for Making a Career Change

First, let’s begin by defining the difference between a job change and a career change. Changing jobs means you merely move from one employer to another, but you do the same thing. So if you are a janitor at one, you will be a janitor at the other.

A career change, on the other hand, means you are completely changing the work you do. In some instances, you don’t even have to change employers, if there is an appropriate job opening and training program available. Changing careers means you change your line of work. So if you are a janitor now, maybe you decide to become a graphic artist.

While everyone has their reason(s) for wanting to change careers, there are generally some that are better than others. First, let’s talk about the wrong reasons for making a career change.

Don’t change careers to run away from a bad situation at work. If your boss is unbearable, the hours stink, and the pay is subpar, you may decide to find a new job. However, that is not the right motivation for making a major life change like starting a whole new career.

In addition, changing careers because you don’t know what else to do or you are desperate is also a wrong move. Too many people who are in this type of situation will make the wrong career choice and wind up hating their decision.

Finally, don’t change careers based on someone else’s wants or needs. A career change needs to be your decision. Consider all the struggling actors whose parents pushed them into “real” careers.

Right Reasons for Making a Career Change

Changing careers can be overwhelming; therefore, it’s important not to make any snap decisions. Obviously, the sooner you start, the sooner you will finish. However, be sure to consider carefully all your options before settling on a course of action.

The best reason for making a career change is because it is something you’ve always wanted to do. If you have a passion that cannot be denied then maybe it’s time to change careers. Change careers when another line of work is the only thing you can see yourself doing.

Now some people may want to change careers because they are in a job that they didn’t choose. Perhaps when they obtained their first job, they took what was available, and while it has turned into a great career, it was never really something that interested them. Change careers because you have outgrown what you are doing. To put it shortly, If you know how to migrate Magento to Shopify, you won’t agree on the lower payment in sales or others.

Finally, you should consider a career change because you recently lost your job and you can’t find a new one in the field in which you were trained. As technological changes take over the workplace and jobs that once we’re no longer exist, changing careers may be your only option.

Whatever you ultimately decide about making a career change, it is important to consider all your options. Then you can decide if you are making the right decision to change careers.