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Weigh your options for changing careers
change careers
You don't have to be young to choose a career, even change careers. - photo by Studio photo

The days when men and women would work for the same company for decades are largely in the past. Though some professionals still remain loyal to a single firm for the duration of their careers, such instances are now the aberration as opposed to the norm.

Switching firms or careers has certainly become more acceptable over the years, but that does not necessarily mean everyone who switches jobs is doing it for the right reason. Many people have switched jobs only to realize the grass is not greener on the other side. Others have switched jobs amidst economic uncertainty only to be laid off shortly after making the move. While the opportunity for a fresh start is nothing to scoff at, professionals looking to change careers should consider a host of factors before deciding to do so.

• Motivation: Before changing careers, it's best to sit down and honestly assess what is motivating your potential move. If you harbor a strong desire to pursue a passion and make it your career, then changing careers is probably something you must do. But changing careers because you feel if you are slighted by a current employer or you feel like changing for the sake of change, then you might want to reconsider. If you're considering a change because of an issue with your present employer, try working out the issue before pursuing a career change. You might find the issue is a byproduct of miscommunication and not something to change careers over. If you want to change careers because you feel like you need a change, keep in mind how difficult the job market is and how vulnerable you might be if your next move does not pan out. Give your motivation some serious thought before making any career changes, and you're less likely to regret your decision.

• Experience: Pursuing a new career in a different field can be exciting, but if you lack experience in that field then you could be making a mistake. While the economy has rebounded in 2013, the job market is still highly competitive and less than ideal for inexperienced workers. While you will need to start somewhere if you ever hope to transition to a new career, consider doing so on a part-time or volunteer basis and keep your current job. This gives you a chance to get your feet wet and pad your resume, and you will still have the safety net of a full-time career.

• Quality of life: Quality of life is too often overlooked when professionals are considering a career change. Though the opportunity to make more money is enticing, money should not dictate your decision. A new job with a higher salary might require you to be on the road more often than your current career, negatively impacting your quality of life, especially if you have a family. Longer hours at the office may also take away from family or personal time, which can affect your quality of life as well. Before changing careers, think of the potential impact such a change may have on you and if you're willing to live with that impact.

• Relocation: Better jobs might be available in a different job market, but there are disadvantages to relocating. Many established professionals already have a network of friends, family and fellow professionals, and abandoning that network for a new life in another city can be extremely difficult. Single workers might adjust more easily to a relocation, but parents must consider the potential impact a relocation will have on their families. Even single professionals might find moving to a new city where they have no established social circle is far more difficult than they imagined. Such a move can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Unemployed professionals may feel that's a risk worth taking, but those who already have a job should determine if a relocation is really something they are ready to try.

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