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4 Career Change Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Career

Aha moment: Don’t panic: Plan your career change

At some point in your career, you’ll be required to make a change.

Either of your own volition or because someone prompted it.

When that moment comes, it’s easy to make career-change mistakes. You’re under pressure. Maybe it’s an experience you’ve never gone through before.

It’s no surprise that people have lapses in judgment.

Here’s a review of some of the most common mistakes people make when going through a career change and what you can do instead.

Mistake #1: Panicking

Focus on planning, instead of panicking.

If you panic, you’ll make an irrational decision with your time, or to just get out the situation and get a job that will alleviate financial or life pressures.

But a smooth career change is about purposefully planning for a better future.

What you do should bring betterment. You’ll make much better decisions if they’re motivated by careful, deliberate actions.

Here’s how to put together a plan:

  • Evaluate where you are most relevant in terms of skill (this could be inside or outside your company or industry).
  • Assess the people you know who can help you get closer to understanding your opportunities.
  • Determine the skills that you bring to the table that immediately make you an asset.

Mistake #2: Overcommunicating

In the middle of a job loss, it’s easy to fall into the trap of telling everyone you know or meet that you’ve lost your job.

But when you approach someone out of desperation, even if you have great skills, you diminish your brand.

You have to be savvy about maintaining dignity when you’re out of work.

You don’t want to appear discouraged or bitter; you’re looking to add more value.

The ability to go from disappointed about a job loss to bringing value depends on your mental state.

The way you communicate that state to others says something about you and the value you’ll bring to future opportunities.

Keep in mind that people want to help others who are actively engaging in a new situation. Being disgruntled is running away from a situation. And overcommunicating focuses on the negative  –  not your value.

Mistake #3: Job-searching online only

You can sabotage your job search before you even start by thinking that online searching is going to bring that big-ticket job.

Sure, you want to update your LinkedIn profile and post regularly online, but if you’re in the throes of a career change, you don’t want to get into a holding pattern, where you sit by and wait for something to happen.

You need to do much more than that – and take an active stance – to hook that next position.

Here are some of the tactics that will help you advance:

  • Attending professional networking events
  • Putting yourself in that exact environment
  • Taking someone to lunch
  • Joining a professional association

This is taking an active role. And it’ll contribute in big ways to a smooth career change.

Here are some practical ways to use these tactics to take control of your career change:

  • Maybe you can’t afford to attend a conference. That’s okay. Go anyway and sit in the lobby. Take advantage of this free opportunity to meet new people.
  • Don’t wait for an invitation to a networking event. Just show up! And bring your business cards.
  • Ask professional contacts for an introduction and take someone out to lunch.

Mistake #4: Positioning yourself poorly

One of the tricky aspects of being in the middle of a career-change is communicating your current status to others.

As a general rule, always come from a position of strength.

Telling someone you’re unemployed or out of work is not a position of strength.

The moment you lose your job, become a consultant to someone or something.

If you’re a marketing person, go to your local grocery store, restaurant or retail establishment and offer to give them three free ideas to improve their business. This way, you’re a legit consultant and can honestly convey that role as your current business or skill while you plan for full-time work.

When someone asks you what you do at a networking event, you can say that you’re a strategic business development consultant.

People will instantly find you more relevant.

Be sure to update your LinkedIn and other online profiles to reflect this role.

Final thoughts

Don’t fall prey to these career-change mistakes.

Avoid panicking or overcommunicating your situation, and search for jobs using online and networking methods.

With the right positioning, you’ll create a buzz about your personal brand.

You’ll soon find yourself with lots of possibilities and you’ll navigate the career-change process with ease.

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