Whether you’re unhappy where you’re at or just looking for more room for growth, the decision to change careers isn’t one to take lightly. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before diving in head first into the deep end. By making an informed, well-planned decision, you can move forward in your career path instead of adding more roadblocks between you and your long-term goals.
Underemployment is one of the biggest struggles facing workers both young and old in our country. Unemployment rates are improving, but holding a low-paying job isn’t necessarily enough to survive. When something better turns up, it can be tempting to dive in feet-first… but is that always the right option? From being sure of whether the “something better” is reliable and real, to quitting and upgrading your skills, see how you can be sure you’re making the right decision.
Can’t Stand Your Job? Read This Before You Jump Ship.
Are You Sure You Have a New Job Waiting?
Sometimes, we bank more on the possibility of a new job than the certainty; this can come back to bite you even in the best of situations. You should never leave your current job for another unless you’re absolutely certain – as in, have signed contracts and are already on the payroll – the new job exists. Without having signed proof of a job offer, your potential new employer could simply rescind their offer at the last minute, leaving you high and dry.
Give your two-week notice only after your new employer has successfully signed you onto the company payroll. Be cautious of employers who want you to start working immediately, leaving your current job high and dry. A good employer will want you to show respect for your obligations, even if they’re to another business.
Does it Seem Too Good to Be True?
Job scams are a reality in a world that’s rapidly becoming freelancer and global workforce heavy. Always remember that just because someone says it’s a good opportunity, doesn’t mean it necessarily is. If the level of pay seems far beyond normal rates, or if the benefits seem to outweigh your potential contributions, it may be fake, a scam, or just hinged on virtually unattainable goals.
Be especially cautious of opportunities that seem to promise the world yet show you very little in the way of evidence. This includes advertisements in classifieds for “work from home” or “start your own business” multi-level marketing opportunities. It is possible to succeed in these roles, but you aren’t “employed” and they aren’t “jobs”; they’re opportunities to run your own business, often through cold sales. They often aren’t reliable and almost never produce results within the first few months.
Can You Afford It?
If you’re considering leaving your job for something that seems like a much better opportunity, investigate your savings first. Even if you’re absolutely sure the new job will work out, and your contracts are signed, sealed, and delivered, there’s always the chance you won’t like it, they won’t appreciate your efforts, or it just doesn’t pan out to be as beneficial as you thought.
Before you part ways with the devil you know (your current job), you should have at least two to three months of survival savings under your belt, including rent, food, transportation, and utilities. If something does go wrong along the way – you’re fired, you decide to quit, or maybe you become injured or sick – you won’t find yourself in a sudden financial emergency.
Having a savings before you leave also benefits you in other ways. It makes the process of switching to a new position, including the potential lag in pay as your biweekly salary switches, much less stressful.
Are You Going Back to School?
“Something better” doesn’t necessarily have to mean a new job. Sometimes, it’s saving money or taking out student loans to upgrade your education. This includes studying for a new degree, taking a trade, or attending vocational schooling to help you secure a better job once you graduate.
If you’re considering quitting your job to go back to school, know that this is an area where research and investigation really pays off. Don’t just sign up for the first degree you find in a field you’re interested in; take the time to investigate the field for job growth, job opportunities, and how easy it will be to get employed within your local area. BLS.gov’s Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great place to start.
If your desired field shows sluggish growth, or if you live in area with virtually no opportunity for employment in that field, it may not be the right time to quit your job to go back to school. Making a plan to save money and move or choosing a more viable path may be a safer decision.
Think you have to quit to go back to school? It is now possible to seek an education and continue to work by studying for your degree from home. As the Internet and web technologies advance, and more schools step into the distance learning environment, it’s becoming easier to upgrade with less stress. You may be able to continue working to preserve your financial security right up until you graduate.