Making a career switch is never easy – and it can feel impossible when financial responsibilities get in the way. In this piece, the author outlines four steps you can take to take control of your career journey and change your path so that, in the end, you can get where you want to be.
Many professionals dream about moving to a new role or perhaps a new career. trouble, make the case for yourself in a new industry can be challenging, especially if you lack directly relevant experience. But even beyond the hurdle of convincing others to give you a shot, there’s always a bigger question: how to pay for it.
Many midcareer or senior professionals gain enough experience and seniority to command large salaries. And even if your annual take-home is more modest, it’s still common — between mortgages, tuition, and more — for many professionals to find themselves locked into the “golden ones.” handcuffs” that require a certain level of income to avoid a severe decline in life. . However, restarting a new career often requires taking a temporary – or, depending on the field, not so temporary – pay cut.
As I described in my book Again Youif you find yourself looking for a change but can’t face a pay cut, here are four things you can do.
Move in – or reinvent your current job.
We often think that if we are not happy in our current role, the only alternative is to quit. But increasingly, that is not the case. Employers have long recognized the huge cost of employee turnover: up to 2x the employee’s annual salary. Especially since resignations increased in 2021 to a record 47 million voluntary departures, the desire to retain talent has intensified. Instead of thinking that you need to leave your company, you can start by exploring internal transfers. That way, you’re more likely to keep your current salary and seniority, even if you move into a role where you lack experience.
Depending on the strength of your relationship, you can start by gently sensing the situation with your manager or your HR colleague. And even if an internal move is not possible, you can find ways to add more engaging elements in your current job. For example, if you want to expand your communication skills, you can discuss the topic of getting more team presentation opportunities or start writing articles for your internal company newsletter or industry journals.
Validate your interests.
If you dream of making a career change, you probably have a clear vision of your new profession. That was the case of a woman I profiled, who dreamed of giving up her desk job for the beauty and creativity of becoming a flower arranger. Her career coach suggested that she work at a florist for a day to validate her interest, but the girl refused. Why bother? She knew she loved flowers, and this was her dream.
But the career coach insisted, so he contacted a kind florist – and then left for lunch, never to return. Why? For a completely unexpected reason: She didn’t realize that arranging fresh flowers required working in cold temperatures, and that was a dealbreaker for her. It’s easy to create a fantasy in your mind about what it would be like to have a different job. But before you take any steps to make a change, it’s useful to try — through informational interviews, jobshadowing, or reading memoirs from practitioners — even if it’s something you’re passionate about.
Start a conversation with the people you are closest to.
One of the sick ironies I’ve discovered in my research on professional innovation is that the people many professionals think are the most supportive — that is, their family and close friends — actually are. which is most critical to their plans. A family member not only has their own interests at stake (if your income is low, they may have to make direct sacrifices), they may also have a genuine and well-intentioned desire to save you from harm. (“But what doesn’t work?”).
If you want to avoid drama and conflict, it’s important to have an initial, collaborative conversation with the people closest to you who will be affected by your decisions. “You know I’m interested in exploring other career options,” you might say. “But if I move forward, I may not have the same income. How do you feel about that? Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can do this if it seems like a good idea to continue down that path?”
You can find a way to compromise (“We’ll sell the house, but only if our kids graduate high school”). Or you may discover that they are more supportive than you thought (“You’re so miserable, you should quit that job no matter what.”).
Stretch your time horizon.
Many of us think that a career change has to be all-or-nothing. But that leaves out an important tool in our arsenal: nights and weekends. on Again YouI profiled a hairdresser named Patricia Fripp who – over the course of a decade – reinvented himself into a successful professional speaker. He avoided the (potentially financially ruinous) temptation to quit his job immediately and pursue his dream of becoming a speaker. However, over the years, she honed her skills, networked, built a reputation, and invested her hairdressing income in developing skills and creating professional resources such as a website. and speaker reel.
As a result, he never faced a lack of income. When the 10-year lease on her salon was up, she simply closed the business and entered her new career – where she more than replaced her original income from hairdressing. It can be frustrating for there is no patience among us. But extending your time horizon allows you to search product-market fitbuild a client base, and grow your new business or career without the immediate cashflow pressure you face — and that freedom to learn and experiment can be transformative.
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Make a career transition is never easy – and it can feel impossible when financial responsibilities get in the way. But by following these strategies, you can begin to take control of your career journey and change your trajectory so that, eventually, you can get to where you want to be.