Changing careers is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you’re looking into switching to a different position in your current field or trying a completely new arena, it takes careful consideration, planning, and perseverance. I should know; I went from being a salesman at GM to running my own successful rehabilitation center. Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking about making the leap to a new career:


Ask yourself the right questions. Why exactly do you want to make the change? What don’t you like about your current job, and is switching the best way to fix it? Do you have the skills you’ll need to make the change or should you build them before searching for opportunities? Do you have the finances to fall back on if things don’t work out? Take some time to consider your motives, the realities of your situation, and the steps you’ll need to take before committing to a decision. And make sure it’s not based on money alone — if you end up hating the new position, the salary will only be of so much comfort.


Do your research. Start by looking at the facts of the field in general: required education or experience, average starting salary, and locations with the most opportunity. Check out which companies you’re most interested in, and again, don’t just consider the money. Look at mission statements, company goals, and if possible, talk to the people who work there to see why they like it. More importantly, ask them what they don’t like and why. If you land an interview or meeting, don’t go in blind. Research the company at length and ask follow-up questions.


Channel your strengths. You don’t have to be an expert in your desired field if you know how to work your strengths to your advantage. When I decided to start a rehabilitation center of my own, I used my business savvy to get my first loan. Then, I used my skills as a salesman to illustrate to others why my program was the best choice to find sobriety. You’ll probably need to pick up a few new skills no matter what, but if you can figure out how to use what you already know and are good at, you’ll be miles ahead of the curve.


Build a strong support system. Starting a new career can be a long, exhausting process, so don’t underestimate the power of a support system. Have a trusted circle of friends or family who will cheer you on no matter how tough the process gets. They’ll also be an excellent break from the chaos when you need it — you can vent to them after a bad interview or even take a weekend off from your endeavor to relax with them. At the very least confide in your partner or a close friend, but don’t go it totally alone!


Use your network. It always helps to know the right people when it comes to starting a new career. Even if you don’t know anyone directly in your desired field, talk to those in your network to see who has connections you might be able to benefit from. Be gracious to anyone who helps you in any way — even if their connection falls through or doesn’t pan out they way you’d hoped — and send thank you notes throughout the process. And don’t forget to return the favor whenever possible!


Keep in mind that one of the most challenging parts of changing careers is having the patience to find the perfect fit. Don’t jump at your first offer if you’re not thrilled to receive it; if you’re going to make the switch, make it count!


Article Written By:

Per Wickstrom is the founder and CEO of Best Drug Rehabilitation, one of the top holistic rehabilitation centers in the country. He found sobriety after a decades-long struggle with addiction and has since dedicated his life and career to helping others find the same life-affirming success he has. His program is based on natural and holistic methods and has helped lead hundreds to recovery. Connect with Per via Twitter or Facebook.