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The AIU blog shares ideas, information and tips aimed at helping you get ahead personally and professionally, with topics ranging from online learning success to career development.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a New Career

You know that you want to change careers, but how ready are you to make that happen? AIU’s Career Services department recommends beginning your career change by assessing your situation. If you can answer these seven questions, you might just be ready to put your plan into action.

1. What do I like to do that I’m also good at?

If you aren’t sure which direction your career change should take, begin by asking yourself, “What are my passions?” One of the biggest reasons for making a career change is to achieve personal fulfillment or follow a dream. List what you love, but also list what you know you are really good at. Most importantly, be honest. What you love to do and what you are really good at aren’t always the same things.

If you find that your skill set doesn’t quite match your passion for this new career, consider additional training or education. Other ways to hone your skills include getting an internship, a part-time job or you can get the practice you need by volunteering your time.

Watch: Serious Talk Webinar - Go from the Job You Have to the Career You Want

2. What are my transferable skills?

Transferable skills are sometimes called soft skills. These are those abilities that you can take from job to job regardless of your profession. These skills include communication, negotiation, collaboration, flexibility, persistence and persuasiveness. Robbin Johnson-Carter, the Director of Staff Development at Illinois Action for Children, stated in AIU’s recent Serious Talk Webinar that transferable skills can make the difference when it comes to moving your career forward. “I really look for those transferable skills. I want to be able to hire individuals that we can move throughout the agency."

3. Am I willing to change my lifestyle?

Changing careers can affect your life in many ways, depending on the type of career change you are considering. Career changers should think about how their career change will affect their personal lives, whether those changes are temporary (like going back to school) or permanent (like choosing a profession that requires round-the-clock hours). If it’s more responsibility and leadership you seek, ask yourself whether you are willing to work longer hours or manage more stress.

Don’t know? You can get a glimpse into the career you seek by job shadowing, working part-time, volunteering or requesting an informational interview with a professional in your desired industry.

4. Am I open to relocation?

Not all jobs or careers are easy to find or even available in every city, so it’s important to do some research and determine where the best locations are for your new career. Eric Hellige, Career Services Manager at CareerBuilder, Inc., explains “It’s the same thing if I wanted to be in video game design and I live in the middle of Idaho. That might not be the best location to find a job.” If your new career has a strong regional presence, you may want to consider a move to that area. Proximity puts you in touch with more job opportunities as well as a stronger professional network which can include professional associations, charities and networking events that can help you get connected and move your career forward.

5. What are the market demands for my desired career?

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to love the career that you want to go into—you also want to be able to find employment for your desired profession. Before you invest in an education, begin training, quit your current job and hire a mover, you should really research your position of choice. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a handbook on job outlooks that you can access online: Occupational Outlook Handbook. The BLS handbook uses the employment data it collects to analyze top careers as well as forecasts for job growth. Another way to research demand for jobs in your industry is by looking at job listings in your market or across the U.S. Professional associations can also provide resources on job growth in a particular industry.

6. What networking connections do I have?

Most of us have a more powerful network than we realize. Take a look at who you know, advised Eric Hellige during the webinar. “The one thing I tell job seekers is to look at your own friends and family … they can be very valuable to you.” Most importantly, stay current with your network by getting together, emailing, posting on social media or picking up the phone.

7. What networking connections do I need to make?

In addition to maintaining your current network, you should think about the ways in which you’ll need to grow your professional circle. Make time to attend networking events, volunteer for a charity, join a professional organization and go to professional events like seminars and conventions. Once you make a connection, Eric Hellige advised that you should work to ensure that it isn’t one-sided. He said, “It’s not so much about always needing, always wanting … it’s about “How can I help you? … because that fosters a relationship."