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The 5 Best Times in Your Life to Make a Career Change

Posted May 22, 2014 by Dana Vogel in Career Moves
6629875515_a5fb1415db_zMaking a career change is never easy. Simply changing jobs is hard enough in this economy, so convincing a hiring manager or recruiter to take a chance on someone from a different field can feel nearly impossible. But if you are considering making a jump, don’t let the less-than-ideal job market discourage you. As with most things in life, there is no time like the present to make your goals and dreams into your reality. That being said — some times are better than others to make the switch.

If you want to make a career change, here are 5 times you should definitely go for it:

  1. After finishing school/a course/certificate — Changing careers is all about the way you position yourself in the job market. If you can demonstrate that you now have new skills or knowledge that will make you a valuable asset in the industry you’re trying to break into, you have a much better change of landing that new gig.
  2. After time off — Whether you took time off to be a full-time mother, to move to a different city or to travel the world, re-entering the workforce is usually inevitable. Don’t feel obliged to return to your old career path. If you’re job hunting anyway, you might as well follow your passion.
  3. After a layoff — While we all hope that a layoff will never happen to us, the sad reality is that many people will be laid at least once in their lives. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive a generous severance package, buying you time to do some soul searching and plan your next move very carefully. Again, if you’ve been forced to start searching for jobs anyway, you might as well go for the job you really want. Your layoff could end up being a blessing in disguise!
  4. When your networking skills pay off —  The easiest way to make a career change is by using your connections. A company is much more likely to consider an untraditional candidate if a trusted employee recommends that person and can assures the hiring manager the candidate is a good fit. Not sure how to network outside of your current career? Alumni networking events are a great place to start since you’ll likely be mingling with professionals from  a variety of industries. And make sure to let your friends working in your desired industry know that you’re looking. They may be able to recommend you for openings or point you in the direction of the best networking opportunities.
  5. When your current company is large enough to allow moves — Companies are often more inclined to look at an internal candidate even if your background is a bit different. Before moving into my current marketing career, I worked in editorial at Disney Interactive. Because Disney is such a large company, there was plenty of room to make lateral career changes. When an opportunity to add marketing responsibilities to my editorial workload looked like it wasn’t panning out — my boss encouraged me to apply elsewhere in the company with her full support. (I was also lucky to have such an amazing and supportive boss!) An added bonus of moving within your current company is that you’ll get to keep your 401K and vacation days — a major win-win.

Have you ever made a career change? What advice would you offer Career Girls looking to switch things up?

About the Author

Dana Vogel

Dana is a marketing associate in Manhattan, where she's lived since 2012. She specializes in custom content and content marketing. Before that, she had worked as an associate editor at Babble.com since May 2012. Dana has interned at Redbook magazine and a handful of newspapers. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and volunteers as a alumni interviewer helping to chose the next classes of Penn students. In her free time, she loves bargain hunting for designer clothes, working out, investing, and advancing her career.