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What to Do Before You Switch Jobs

5 steps to prepare for a career change

By Sital S. Patel and MarketWatch

(This article appeared previously on MarketWatch.com.) 

As the job market improves, it’s tempting to jump at the next best offer. But one career coach advises her clients to consider some important factors before making the move. 

 

First focus on what you are doing, what you want to change and how best to do that, says Roopa Unnikrishnan, a career consultant with Center10 Consulting.

 

“Be ready to make the jump by looking at the options out there and the capabilities you have been building over the last few years,” she says, outlining five steps to take before you leap:

 

“Be thoughtful about your current situation,”  she says. You don’t want to leave opportunities on the table. In digging deep, if it turns out it’s time for you to leave, you have your motivations and goals clearly thought before you speak to a potential employer, she says.  It will be a more thoughtful story, where you have learned, delivered, can do more, says Unnikrishnan.  

  

2. Assess your skills and passion. Next, ask yourself if you have the capabilities and passion to stay and grow in your work at your current job, says Unnikrishnan. Capabilities are divided into emotional and technical. Emotional capabilities are about working with people; technical skills are about being able to do the core of what you want to do. 

 

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3. Be like a panther. Next, Unnikrishnan says, visualize yourself as a panther. It’s about watching and waiting. Once you have realized what you’re passionate about and what your goals are, stalk the trends and gather information, she says. 

It’s impossible to know everything out there, but look at trends that pertain to your career, she says. Whether you are talking to people, reading the papers or walking down the street, it’s about recognizing trends. For example, if you can’t go to industry conferences, look up the agenda and look at the topics of discussion for trend ideas in your space, says Unnikrishnan.

“But don’t expect it to happen in a moment. This is about 25 things happening over time, that will [lead to] your light bulb moment,” says Unnikrishnan. 

(MORE: Secrets of an Attention-Getting Resume)

 

4. Start the job hunt. Once you have taken the first steps, then you can start your job hunt, says Unnikrishnan. Pretend you have been offered a job and think about what a week in that position would look like, she said. Consider what the routine of your day will look like so when you go into an interview, you can ask the questions that you need to, said Unnikrishnan. Don’t just focus on achieving a bunch of goals, think about how it all will work together. Imagine what your life will be like and if you’ll like it. “If you like to do things fast, maybe a start-up is the right place for you,” she said.

5. Live the job before you take it. The last step is to “live it,” says Unnikrishnan. Network to meet up with people in the industry and gather more information, she says. And don’t just ask them to tell you about it, have them walk you through it so you get it, she says. Start living in the space before you start actually looking for a job in that space. 

For example, if you are interested in a chief innovation role, look up the top five chief innovators on LinkedIn and talk to them. You must build a relationship with them before you can ask them to spend the time with you, says Unnikrishnan. By doing this, you "can really test and be ready in a much more meaningful way for your new role.”

Sital Patel covers Wall Street and the financial services industry from New York. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sital.

Sital S. Patel Read More
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