Your Next Best Career

Hey Anita,

I’m a computer programmer and I am thinking about changing careers. Years of sitting in front of a PC for 10-12 hours a day is taking its toll, and my New Year’s resolution of getting healthy and in better physical shape has fallen by the wayside. Any advice?

Geek_1915240_smallDear, Geek Physique,

You are not alone; 21% of employees plan to leave their jobs this year, according to CareerBuilder. (I have no statistics on how many people have already given up on their New Year’s resolution!) But are you sure you want to leave your current position? Tech salaries rose 7.7% in 2015, averaging $96,370. Think carefully before making a dramatic job transition. Oftentimes, a career change means a sharp decrease in salary, at least temporarily until you can move up the ladder in your newly chosen industry.

If you’re serious about a major change, CareerBuilder just released a list of the 25 Best Jobs in America for 2016. While many are management positions, there are several on the list to which you could transfer your existing IT skills which makes for an easier career change. But a new Solutions Architect or Mobile Developer position may not address your health and fitness goals. Check out my blog post, Work Toward 10,000 Steps, to see if you could make some tweaks in your current daily job life to stay where you are. If not, check out Glassdoor’s list of 10 Jobs That Can Keep You Fit for inspiration, ranging from dance instructor to firefighter.

Here are some points to ponder when considering a career change:

  • Know thyself. With a little help from an online career quiz or two, really think about what your dream job would be, based on your preferences and personality traits. Do you honestly think you could transition to the dance instructor suggested by Glassdoor?
  • Research job possibilities. Based on the assessments’ recommendations and your own free association list, check out interesting job titles (indeed.com) to see what tasks the positions entail and the average salaries (salary.com). Don’t forget to look within your current company for opportunities to make a lateral move.
  • No transferable skills? You’ll need training. Determine new competencies you’ll need, then find learning resources. It could be as little as an online Excel course, or a full-blown master’s degree program.
  • Can your network help? Who do you know who can help you get a foot in the door in your newly chosen field? A mentor in your target profession could be helpful, as well.

Readers: Have you ever considered changing careers? What’s holding you back?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Changing Jobs

Dear, Anita,

I just accepted a new position with my company and am very excited about the opportunity… yet at the same time, I’m feeling really nervous about the change. What are some ways I can overcome my fears?

Dear, “New and Nervous,”

ButterflyCongratulations on this new chapter in your career! Changing jobs is a part of life, and the fear that goes along with each change is only natural. Our human instinct is to stay within a certain comfort zone, develop habits, and stick with routines that are familiar to us. The idea of rocking the boat with change tends to heighten our anxieties and can create unwanted stress.

The key is to simply reset your frame of mind.

  1. Don’t look at change as a bad thing. This is a very exciting time for you! You need to embrace the opportunities that come with it. I often remind myself that life is not a dress rehearsal. We only get one chance to live our life (“YOLO” in Generation Y terms) – to grow, learn new things, and expand our horizons. If you find yourself stuck in a rut for any reason, it’s up to you to make a change for the better.
  2. Get through the fear of the unknown. Take a good look at what’s worrying you. Is it the money? The commute? The new routine? Make a list of all the things you’re concerned about and break down each item. More often than not, you’ll find that some of the things you’re concerned about are trivial – or anxieties you’ve built up in your head that can be easily addressed and resolved. I also think you’ll find that the things you fear most won’t actually happen to you.
  3. Live in the present. Dwelling on your past role or worrying about what your new position is going to be like will only drive you nuts. Don’t miss out on what’s happening TODAY; enjoy those feelings of anticipation and excitement. When you get into the groove of your new position, give it 100%.
  4. Be resourceful. The fact that you’re starting a new position with the same company gives you the upper hand. Most people go through the same jitters – and they’re starting fresh out the gate with little or no experience with the company or environment. Take advantage of the people and resources available to you. Most of your doubts and concerns will quickly fade away as you engage in your new position. Ask questions along the way, and learn everything there is to know about the role and what is expected of you. Once you have a clear picture in your head, you will quickly get into a new rhythm and find yourself in a new routine that works for you (just like the one you’re accustomed to now!)

All in all, change is good, and the time you spend at work should be stimulating, invigorating, and exciting. A friend once told me that if you don’t feel those little butterflies in your stomach anymore in your current role, then it’s time to make a change. So get out that butterfly net and go for it!

Best Wishes,

Anita

Readers: How have you handled the uncertainty that comes with either a promotion or a new job?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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