Should you switch careers? What you need to know before taking the plunge

Click to play video: 'Would a career change really make you happier?' Would a career change really make you happier?
Workplace expert and CEO Maryann Kerr talks about the motivations behind career change and if it really can make you happier – Jan 9, 2020

It can be scary to think about changing careers entirely, especially if you’re comfortable with your income and lifestyle.

But if you’re unsatisfied with what you’re accomplishing at work and want to try something completely different, it can be worth it to take a leap and try something new, said Maryann Kerr, the CEO of The Medalist Group, which works to create inclusive workplaces.

READ MORE: From welders to surgeons — The most in-demand jobs for 2020

Kerr made the switch to start the company at the age of 57 after thinking about it for about five years, she told hosts on Global’s The Morning Show.

According to job site Monster, job seekers view 22 to 25 per cent more jobs in January than the average for the year, as the new year is a popular time for thinking about a change.

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“It’s scary and it’s a risky thing,” she said, but taking that jump for your own happiness is often worth it, she added. 

Plan ahead

Before you quit your current job, do some research about the next job you want, including interviews with people in that field, Kerr recommends. 

“I had been thinking about it for a number of years,” she said. But it took time to get to the point where she was ready to leave. 

READ MORE: Why you should switch jobs every 2 to 3 years to boost your earnings

Additional schooling can be another factor, depending on how big a career switch you’re looking to make. Kerr went back to school at age 50 to pursue leadership education and it was “the best thing” she’s ever done.

“I don’t believe you’re ever too old to learn,” she said, adding that she’s never regretted going back to school in middle age. 

Click to play video: 'Here’s what you should know about switching careers as an adult' Here’s what you should know about switching careers as an adult
Here’s what you should know about switching careers as an adult – Feb 19, 2018

Have reasonable expectations

If you’re pursuing entrepreneurship or an entirely new field, your salary may not be what it was in your previous career. That’s something to expect, said Kerr. 

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“In the beginning, the money isn’t what you quite would have liked it to have been,” she said. “But it gets there because you’re doing what you love.”

However, it’s important to assess your financial position and if you can afford to go back to school, especially if it’s a drastic career change, Angela Payne, now the senior vice-president of Monster Canada, previously told Global News.

READ MORE: Sick of your job? Here’s how long you should stay before job hopping

“If changing careers means going back to school short-term or long-term, consider the impact that it may have on your life outside of the working world,” said Payne. 

But you may not need to go back to school if the industry you are pursuing is looking for unique qualifications, she said.

“Don’t discount the fact that many organizations are looking for new perspectives; not only fresh eyes but fresh ideas that can come from adjacent or different industry best practices,” said Payne.

Kerr says she’s more energized and engaged and is following what she believes is her purpose since switching careers. Her friends have noticed a change in her as well, she said. 

“They can’t believe the difference in me as a human being because I’m doing something that I love,” she said. 

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For more information on making a career switch, watch Maryann Kerr in the video above.

— With files from a previous Global News report 

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