How to decide which career path to take when you're at a crossroads

A career shift is a major event in your life. Use this advice to start planning on how to make this development a success.

A desire to move onto a different career path can arise for any number of reasons. Perhaps you have a passion for a specific field. Maybe you want to increase your earning potential or transition into a sector of the economy that has strong growth forecasted for the future. It's possible that you want to focus on career paths that emphasize serving the common good. You could simply want a more personally fulfilling role.

You may also be at a point where your existing career path is about to split along two or more tracks, and you want to be sure you follow the one that best aligns with your needs.

"When at a crossroads in your career, you need to gravitate towards what feels right for you," commented Steve Dion, Solutions Talent Manager at Beacon Hill. "For me, I've always valued strong relationships and mentorships, which has allowed me to take on new risks, leading to greater career growth."

No matter why you want to change your career path, some careful thought and a thorough review of your potential options can go a long way. Keep this advice in mind as you start to consider this major change.

Understanding your current position and future goals

Reaching a crossroads in your professional development may mean changing careers entirely or simply making a slight adjustment. If you're at a point where you could either work toward a managerial role or take a more senior position tied to your existing role with your current employer, the choice is more limited than changing careers entirely. However, some foundational advice is the same for all situations: Carefully develop your long-term goals and understand why you want to make a change. With this foundation, you can more thoughtfully plan for the future.

A professor leads a university lecture.

Recognizing the requirements that come with small and large changes

If you want to shift to a new career entirely, you may have to take a few steps back before you start moving forward. CNBC pointed out that such a change could mean returning to school, taking a pay cut or even seeking unpaid experience, such as volunteering or an internship. While this isn't ideal, it's a necessary part of the process when it comes to starting and, eventually, advancing in a new career.

Even if you plan to stick to your current overall career but want to take on a more senior role, some additional education may serve you well. Earning an MBA, if you want to focus on management, or a job-focused high-level degree, in careers where additional knowledge helps unlock advantageous positions, is a significant, time-consuming responsibility. The accomplishment can help you move through your career crossroads to a more rewarding position.

Finding someone experienced who can provide guidance

A mentor is always a valuable asset, even if you're in a firmly established career path. If you plan on changing careers, a mentor can be even more valuable. They provide insight into topics that you may not have very much experience with and help you build powerful professional connections. One especially important thing to keep in mind is that you should be respectful of your mentor's time and strive to build a two-sided, mutually beneficial relationship, according to Fast Company.

"Working with a trusted advisor with experience in your desired field can help ease the transition when making a career switch," remarked Katie Hackney, Division Director of Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Columbus. "Recruiters can be great resources in this case – they can give you information about different career paths, starting salaries, projected growth rate, and other essential elements that make up the decision-making process."

While a career shift or outright change is rarely a simple affair, this advice can help you prepare for your next steps as a professional. To learn more, connect with an expert recruiter from Beacon Hill today.

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