With the digital landscape rapidly evolving and the job market rallying, opportunities abound across the communications’ field for those of us seeking a new challenge.
Certainly, a career change can be exciting, but it’s also a leap into unknown territory. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned leader, how do you decide if it is worth the risk?
That’s one of the many questions we’ll consider at New York Women in Communication’s next event, Courage v. Fear: Navigating the Big Risks to “Go Big,” to be held on May 18, 2017, at the New York Institute of Technology.
Co-sponsored with New York Festivals, the panel will feature, among others, Susan Young, executive vice president and executive creative director of McCann New York, Carol Evans, president emeritus, Working Mother Media and Tracy Candido, director of events and programs at LMHQ/Alliance for Downtown NY.
Ahead of our event, here are some strategies for weighing the risks and benefits of making your next professional jump.
Have you done your research?
While you can’t guarantee your success in a new career, you can make strategic decisions about whether it will be a good fit.
Use online research to learn about the industry or role you're pursuing. Is there a demand for new professionals or are layoffs the latest news? Are the current developments and opportunities exciting to you, or not quite what you expected?
Better yet, seek out leaders in the field who are willing to speak candidly about their role and job trajectory. Pick their brains on what their day-to-day looks like and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be sure to ask about typical corporate culture and work-life balance.
Also consider freelancing or taking a class to get a better taste for the role and to network with like-minded professionals.
If you’ve done your research and aren’t completely sold, ask your current employer to support you in pursuing new job functions or training to build up your skills and experience.
What does success look like?
Once you have a better picture of your potential new job, consider your expectations for success. Will this opportunity help you develop a skill set beneficial for your long-term goals? Will you be getting management experience or client interaction that will position you for success down the line? Do you expect to have a greater impact on your immediate or global community?
Be clear about your goals and expectations so that you are prepared for the effort it will take to get there.
If the appeal is more short-term, think twice before derailing your current career. A pay raise or impressive title alone may not be worth the costs to switch jobs.
If you have no idea where your professional life will lead, now is the time to consider a potential path. Having milestones as well as a series of smaller goals will help you envision the future — and decide if this is the right leap to get you there.
This is also a great time to talk to your mentor or a trusted colleague. Having an outside opinion can shed light on potential pros or cons you hadn't considered.
If it doesn’t work out, how will you bounce back?
While fear of the unknown shouldn't hold you back, you should be in good financial standing. If going big could put you into financial hardship, then waiting until you are in a more stable situation may be the right call.
Otherwise, can you envision how you would pivot a potential failure into a new opportunity? Taking risks, even if it doesn’t succeed, can lead to a stronger network, a new path or a refreshed perspective.
Having an established network and references will also help you bounce back if things don't go as planned. And of course, don’t burn bridges when you leave. You never know how your current connections could be important in the future.
No matter how much research and preparation you do, at some point you will need to make your decision. Listen to your gut and trust yourself to make the right informed choice.