Career Change – 10 Common Mistakes

The following mistakes are very typical of the errors in thinking that seem simple in themselves but can have sometimes  devastating and long-term effects on the likelihood of making a successful change in your career.

1            Assumptions

We all know the word, but when you are trying to change your career it is easy to mistake assumption for belief or fact which can not only close a line of thinking down completely, but prevent an idea from taking root in the first place.

By checking your internal dialogue, capturing ideas on ‘paper’ immediately, and deliberately challenging your thought process, you can overcome the trap of assumption.  Better still, discuss some of the barriers in your way with a coach or friend to help challenge your areas of resistance and cull out facts from assumptions.

2            Thinking there is only one ‘perfect’ job for you.

When I first meet a client, they often intimate they are struggling to identify THE job they should be doing, using words like ‘should’ and ‘meant’.  Intimating that there is only one predestined role that is perfect for them. 

This thinking is very limiting. It creates blinkers which not only mean you are likely to overlook some brilliant opportunities but also can’t see the wood for the trees. Often leaving you feeling frustrated and stuck, with your thoughts going round and round on the same ineffective loop.  

Also, by assuming there is only one role you would love, you are creating the potential for fear and failure.

The resolution to this dilemma is to identify all the criteria that go into a fulfilling career which will open up several ideas and opportunities that could be fabulous for you. 

3            Aiming to make the change in one step

I find it very sad when I hear of clients who have known for ages what they want but have not made the move because they can’t see how to or why anyone would hire them.

The truth of the matter is that if you want to make a change you need to think strategically. Give yourself a timescale and some stepping-stones or milestones along the way. 

When I changed my career, I had to take a job similar to what I was doing, but in a new industry, to get me needed experience prior to then changing roles.  Others may do some voluntary work, or take time out to upskill and retrain, which means they will have to take an interim job in the meantime to pay the bills.

So don’t think next role – think ‘what do I want to be doing in, say, 3 years’ time?’

4            Keeping it dreamy

I’ve sort of alluded to this above, but by continually daydreaming about how wonderful if would be to have a career that makes you feel content and fulfilled, you will never move beyond the ‘dream’ stage.

By drilling down into the detail of what that actually means to you, your thoughts become more defined, and you can start to explore real possibilities.

5            Being unable to explain clearly what you are looking for

This is bound up with the previous problem, if your goals are insubstantial and ‘fluffy’ you can’t share them with anyone or explain what you are looking for – which is essential for researching, networking, writing a CV, promoting yourself on LinkedIn, and finding that illusive job title etc.

6            Not using your Network

Your network is one of the most essential assets you have when it comes to career change (or job search) but another common statement I hear is ‘all of my connections come from my current work and not where I want to be’ therefore creating the illusion you don’t have a useful network. 

That is mistaken and limited thinking.  When you remember to ask yourself, ‘who else do they know’ and ‘what else to they know’ you will probably recognise that there is a huge resource for potentially inspirational and practical conversations and advice.

7            Skipping self-awareness evaluation and research

If you are determined to changed careers the tendency is to rush to look for what you want rather than step back and assess in detail what you have to offer and specifically what you are looking for in a new role.

Done thoroughly, this part of your career change can take a while and seem as though you are gathering disparate and  overwhelming amounts of data about yourself, (link to and workshop on career decisions)   – but the process helps to bring you clarity of purpose and improves your ability to articulate your goals with passion and confidence.

8            Not Valuing your Values

Thinking your values are unimportant or secondary to your identification of a great career is a huge mistake.

Changing career is not easy, it takes effort, resilience, and persistence as well as self-belief and motivation.

Your values motivate you to take purposeful action; step outside of your comfort zone, take the next action; keep going; believe in yourself and share your passion with other people effortlessly and with enthusiasm.

Also, when you find the role you want, your values will help you ensure a good cultural fit with an organisation.

9            Not updating your Brand

Everyone who currently knows you will assume you are still wanting to do what you have done before, and will often find it hard to imagine you doing something else!

It is up to you to change their perception of you. To tell them what you are looking for in every way you can imagine.

  • When you network
  • In your CV
  • On LinkedIn
  • In other social media
  • When you talk to friends and family

This can seem hard because it feels like sticking your head above the parapet and risking ridicule and failure, but if this is the case you still have work to do on self-belief, identifying your vision and goal setting (remember self-awareness should come first).

When you can discuss your new brand confidently and with passion, others will also see you in a different light.

If you don’t do this no one can help you and importantly any advice they do try and give (because they really want to help) will be ignored by you and they may either get hurt or stop engaging with you.

Link to Presence; Bring your boldest self to your greatest challenge Amy Cuddy | Speaker | TED

10          Not having a plan

There are so many elements involved in changing careers that the lack of a plan will not only give an impression of you being unprofessional and inarticulate but could easily lead to exhaustion, chaos, and failure.

Create a timeline with a plan that can be flexible so that if a goal or path needs changing you can do so, but you still have a map to follow with key milestones and achievable actions to complete. 

10 typical errors might stall or derail your career change?

1            Assumptions

We all know the word, but when you are trying to change your career it is easy to mistake assumption for belief or fact which can not only close a line of thinking down completely, but prevent an idea from taking root in the first place.

By checking your internal dialogue, capturing ideas on ‘paper’ immediately, and deliberately challenging your thought process, you can overcome the trap of assumption.  Better still, discuss some of the barriers in your way with a coach or friend to help challenge your areas of resistance and cull out facts from assumptions.

2            Thinking there is only one ‘perfect’ job for you.

When I first meet a client, they often intimate they are struggling to identify THE job they should be doing, using words like ‘should’ and ‘meant’.  Intimating that there is only one predestined role that is perfect for them. 

This thinking is very limiting. It creates blinkers which not only mean you are likely to overlook some brilliant opportunities but also can’t see the wood for the trees. Often leaving you feeling frustrated and stuck, with your thoughts going round and round on the same ineffective loop.  

Also, by assuming there is only one role you would love, you are creating the potential for fear and failure.

The resolution to this dilemma is to identify all the criteria that go into a fulfilling career which will open up several ideas and opportunities that could be fabulous for you. 

3            Aiming to make the change in one step

I find it very sad when I hear of clients who have known for ages what they want but have not made the move because they can’t see how to or why anyone would hire them.

The truth of the matter is that if you want to make a change you need to think strategically. Give yourself a timescale and some stepping-stones or milestones along the way. 

When I changed my career, I had to take a job similar to what I was doing, but in a new industry, to get me needed experience prior to then changing roles.  Others may do some voluntary work, or take time out to upskill and retrain, which means they will have to take an interim job in the meantime to pay the bills.

So don’t think next role – think ‘what do I want to be doing in, say, 3 years’ time?’

4            Keeping it dreamy

I’ve sort of alluded to this above, but by continually daydreaming about how wonderful if would be to have a career that makes you feel content and fulfilled, you will never move beyond the ‘dream’ stage.

By drilling down into the detail of what that actually means to you, your thoughts become more defined, and you can start to explore real possibilities.

5            Being unable to explain clearly what you are looking for

This is bound up with the previous problem, if your goals are insubstantial and ‘fluffy’ you can’t share them with anyone or explain what you are looking for – which is essential for researching, networking, writing a CV, promoting yourself on LinkedIn, and finding that illusive job title etc.

6            Not using your Network

Your network is one of the most essential assets you have when it comes to career change (or job search) but another common statement I hear is ‘all of my connections come from my current work and not where I want to be’ therefore creating the illusion you don’t have a useful network. 

That is mistaken and limited thinking.  When you remember to ask yourself, ‘who else do they know’ and ‘what else to they know’ you will probably recognise that there is a huge resource for potentially inspirational and practical conversations and advice.

7            Skipping self-awareness evaluation and research

If you are determined to changed careers the tendency is to rush to look for what you want rather than step back and assess in detail what you have to offer and specifically what you are looking for in a new role.

Done thoroughly, this part of your career change can take a while and seem as though you are gathering disparate and  overwhelming amounts of data about yourself, (link to and workshop on career decisions)   – but the process helps to bring you clarity of purpose and improves your ability to articulate your goals with passion and confidence.

8            Not Valuing your Values

Thinking your values are unimportant or secondary to your identification of a great career is a huge mistake.

Changing career is not easy, it takes effort, resilience, and persistence as well as self-belief and motivation.

Your values motivate you to take purposeful action; step outside of your comfort zone, take the next action; keep going; believe in yourself and share your passion with other people effortlessly and with enthusiasm.

Also, when you find the role you want, your values will help you ensure a good cultural fit with an organisation.

9            Not updating your Brand

Everyone who currently knows you will assume you are still wanting to do what you have done before, and will often find it hard to imagine you doing something else!

It is up to you to change their perception of you. To tell them what you are looking for in every way you can imagine.

  • When you network
  • In your CV
  • On LinkedIn
  • In other social media
  • When you talk to friends and family

This can seem hard because it feels like sticking your head above the parapet and risking ridicule and failure, but if this is the case you still have work to do on self-belief, identifying your vision and goal setting (remember self-awareness should come first).

When you can discuss your new brand confidently and with passion, others will also see you in a different light.

If you don’t do this no one can help you and importantly any advice they do try and give (because they really want to help) will be ignored by you and they may either get hurt or stop engaging with you.

Link to Presence; Bring your boldest self to your greatest challenge Amy Cuddy | Speaker | TED

10          Not having a plan

There are so many elements involved in changing careers that the lack of a plan will not only give an impression of you being unprofessional and inarticulate but could easily lead to exhaustion, chaos, and failure.

Create a timeline with a plan that can be flexible so that if a goal or path needs changing you can do so, but you still have a map to follow with key milestones and achievable actions to complete. 

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