Six Questions to Ask Yourself Before Changing Careers

The answer lies with you.

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If you're ready to make a career change, it can be tempting to simply take the leap. But career coaches agree it's important to pause and ask a few tough-but-important questions before putting in your two weeks' notice. Here are six crucial questions to ask yourself before changing careers.

Why do I need a change?

Before diving in, millennial career expert Jill Jacinto says it is important to examine why you're ready for a change. For example, are you bored and unchallenged? If so, a new job within your same industry might solve the problem, she suggests. "Uncover what is propelling you," Jacinto says. By doing so, you'll be making sure a career change is really the answer to your career problems.

What are my values?

"To know what kind of career change you need, you need to know yourself first," explains career coach Hallie Crawford. She recommends identifying your values—personal and professional—before changing careers. Once you know what's important to you, ask whether the change want to make will honor those values. "If not, the career won't leave you feeling fulfilled," she says.

Am I looking for the right careers?

Take a moment to think back on your career. What did you like? When did you excel? And just as important, what did you hate doing? By pinpointing your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, you will be able to "better see the types of roles you are suited for," Jacinto says, which means you'll be more likely to land in a career that that fulfills you—not one that frustrates you.

Crawford suggests conducting an informational interview with someone doing the job you want. "This can help you get the feel of what the career is like before making the move," she says.

How committed am I to making a change?

It's important to think about your level of commitment before jumping into a new career, says Crawford, who adds that "making a career change takes time and effort." It might require you to take new classes, or gain new experience. If you can't dedicate the time needed to make a full-time change, then consider whether you can grow your new career on the side, Jacinto suggests, through volunteer opportunities or entrepreneurship that can add valuable skills to your resume.

Can I afford to make this career shift?

As Jacinto says, "If you are used to getting a direct deposit of your six-figure salary but want to transition into non-profit work, you need to face the fact that those earnings—at least early on—won't align with what you've grown accustomed to in your current career." So, take a look at your expenses and financial goals, then ask: Can I afford that change? "This question will help you see if money will ultimately hold you back from taking this career step," she says.

Who do I want to talk to about this?

If you change careers, you might need support and impartial advice. Crawford suggests that you "identify three people who can provide you with an objective opinion and encouragement," and adds that "it can also be helpful to work with a career coach when making a career transition." These few confidantes can help you identify any potential pitfalls, as well as help you succeed.

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