Managers Making Career Changes

By Susan E. West

Corporate management positions offer considerable money, benefits and security, but the downside of the corporate lifestyle can drive some managers to head for the nearest exit.

Managers leave companies for all kinds of reasons: better opportunities elsewhere, burnout, personality conflicts, incompetence, pay ceilings and new challenges. In fact, experts estimate that 70 percent of American workers at big companies are unhappy with their jobs. “Research clearly shows American employees want flexibility in their jobs and more control over their working hours,” says Kathleen Christensen, director of a program sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation which examines the work force and working families.

Tips for Making the Change
If you’re ready to make a career change, proceed with caution. Changing to a different company, field or industry can be challenging. But you can make the switch without too much difficulty, if you develop a strategy for creating a smooth transition. The goal is to create an effective career-change plan that takes into consideration finances, research, education, and training. Keep in mind that a successful career change can take several months—or even longer. A well-thought-out plan developed with the appropriate tools will provide the confidence to take those first steps.

Here are some tips from experts to help you make a successful career change that enhances your leadership:

  • Conduct thorough research. Make sure you to evaluate all possibilities before attempting a career jump. Talk with business associates, peruse career and job profiles, and consult with a career management professional. The more information you arm yourself with beforehand, the more successful you’ll be.
  • Choose the right time. The best time to begin considering a new career is when you’re already in another position. Instead of giving up your steady paycheck, you can test a new career possibility by volunteering or offering yourself as a freelancer or consultant.
  • Evaluate your motivation. Just because you’re unhappy in your current job isn’t a good enough reason to make a total career break. Carefully analyze whether it is your actual career you dislike, or simply your organization or immediate supervisor. Evaluate the pros and cons of your current position and your desired position.
  • Determine what’s important. Ask yourself what it is you really want to do with the rest of your life. Take an honest inventory of your likes and dislikes, as well as your skills, values, and personal interests. What is missing now for you? What do you want to accomplish next? You might even consider consulting an executive coach and/or taking a career assessment test.
  • Learn about the industry. To get a feel for the field that interests you, read industry journals, attend conferences, and talk to people in the profession about what they do. Learn whether your target industry has growth potential by researching trade magazines, associations, and Websites.
  • Assess your qualifications. Consider whether you have adequate experience and education to compete as a qualified job candidate in your desired new career field. If not, you might need to postpone your career change while you go back to school or obtain additional training.
  • Boost your marketability. Work with an executive coaching firm, so you will be able to transition to the next position with better management and leadership skills. Also, consider brushing up on the latest technology and techniques pertaining to the new field you’ve chosen.
  • Enhance your network. Nurture professional contacts and friendships regularly. Professional organizations, job industry trade associations and even informal groups are a good place to start.
  • Update your job search skills. It’s essential to brush up on job-hunting skills and techniques before you start your official job search. Make sure you are using your time and resources as effectively as possible.
  • Be patient. Don’t expect to begin at the same level of seniority in your new career that you had in your old one. It will take time to move up the ranks, but when you find a new career that you absolutely love, it will have been worth it.

Making a career change can be challenging for managers, but it can be done successfully if the right approach is taken and the appropriate planning tools are used. For more information about changing careers, contact Susan West, QuadWest Associates at 800-809-2721 and visit Susan has held many executive leadership positions during her 25 years of business experience. She shares her knowledge and lessons learned through a variety of coaching, leadership workshops, tele-seminars and consulting offered by QuadWest Associates, LLC.

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