Changing jobs can close the door on an unsatisfying career and open the way to new opportunities. While it was once common for people to remain with the same job for decades, changes in workplace and social mentality have made it common and even prudent to change jobs. Whether searching for a higher paycheck, more responsibility, a better working environment, or a more personally fulfilling career, it is important to approach changing jobs with a clear plan and some basic strategies.
It may be temptingly easy to quit right away once the decision to find a new job has been made. This can be dangerous in several ways. First, holding onto a job while searching for a new position can help ensure financial stability. Second, if a current job has been a frustrating enterprise, those determined to leave may take the opportunity to tell co-workers, managers, and other personnel exactly what they think of them, which can damage the chances of a peaceful departure, good references, and severance packages. Taking time to plan how changing jobs can be managed may ensure a smooth transition, and limit the chances that savings accounts will be plundered should a new job not immediately appear.
Changing jobs may require some additional education or knowledge. Taking night school, online courses, or enrolling in distance learning programs can help a professional obtain necessary skills while still maintaining a regular job. If only one specific skill is required for a new position, such as learning a new type of computer language, consider hiring a tutor instead of taking a semester-long class. A tutor can work on a varying schedule and may be able to teach a single student much faster than a teacher can manage with a whole classroom.
Remember that the skills earned at prior jobs can be extremely useful when changing jobs. Employees that can multi-task and work in various disciplines are often highly valued by employers. Even if a skill seems irrelevant to the position, it may be worth putting on a resume as a demonstration of a wide field of knowledge. It's entirely possible that the lesson-planning skills of a high school teacher could come in handy as a computer programmer, if the employer happens to be interested in starting an in-house training program.
In interviews, employers frequently ask why an applicant left his or her old job. This is a good opportunity to talk about the aspirations or hopes that were not being met in a previous career; such as a desire for more responsibility, a chance to help others, or a need for a more intellectually challenging position. It is important not to stray too far into criticism of past jobs, however, as this can be taken as a red flag for a malcontent. Phrasing complaints politely and professionally, such as, “I really love to work in a positive, cooperative atmosphere,” is usually preferred to “I quit because they were all idiots.”