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Changing Careers? Use These Questions to Make Sure You’re Headed in the Right Direction

Considering a job or career change? If so, you may want to invest some time in identifying your work preferences first to ensure the change you’re making turns out to be a great fit. To start developing a solid picture of what your ideal work situation might look like, consider your responses to the following either/or combinations. Naturally, for some choices your responses may be more of a mild preference than a strong response, but this still gives you useful information, by telling you that this particular issue isn’t a deal maker or breaker for you.

Nonprofit vs. for-profit:  Nonprofits may include political and religious groups and professional and trade associations as well as socially beneficial or community-based organizations, but they are usually mission- rather than profit-driven.

Technology-focused vs. technology-neutral:  Technology-focused organizations assume and demand a high level of tech expertise, and necessitate an ongoing commitment to staying ahead of the technology curve.

Emerging industry/discipline vs. established industry/discipline:  Organizations based on emerging industries and disciplines tend to offer exciting and challenging opportunities, while those in established or maturing disciplines often provide saner workplaces.

Large organization vs. small:  Large organizations generally bring the tradeoff of stable job expectations vs. rigid management structure, while smaller organizations may tend to be more responsive to new ideas but offer less direction and management control.

Established organization vs. start-up:   Established companies can usually offer superior benefits, while start-ups may be more willing to negotiate other perks such as stock options and flextime in lieu of traditional benefits.

Local or community-based vs. national:  Local or community-based groups often invest more in being good community citizens, but are prone to mirror the ups and downs of the local economy, whereas national organizations may have less of a commitment to your community but are also less damaged by its economic woes.

Structured vs. unstructured workplace:  Do you do your best work in a structured environment, or thrive in its absence?

 Formal vs. casual:  Organizations vary immensely as to their tone and expectations of their employees. Do you feel more comfortable with established standards of dress and behavior or prefer a week of casual Fridays?

Hierarchical vs. flat organization style:  This choice is about how decisions are made. Hierarchical enterprises are primarily top-down, flat ones more likely to distribute decision-making responsibilities (which may impact quality and speed of decisions).

High accountability/reward vs. more moderate accountability/reward:  The former usually is found in the for-profit world; although it can be financially lucrative, it can also carry a substantial stress factor.

Project-focused or consistent workflow:  Projects are typical of client-focused work (for example, in a marketing firm), while a consistent workflow is usually found in more traditional, structured environments.

Established hours vs. flexible or nontraditional schedule:  If you prefer a traditional Monday-Friday, eight-hour-a-day work week, avoid jobs that put you on the front lines with customers (for example, any form of customer service/support).

Family-friendly vs. family-neutral:  Depending on your life circumstances and what personal responsibilities you are juggling, this may be the most important consideration for you. Think of these questions as a starting point to better understand your preferred work style, then incorporate that information into your career-change choices. In case you missed the “Career Change: Getting from Here to There” webinar, watch the recording now!  - Career Change- Getting From Here to There . The “Getting from Here to There” webinar provides advice and tips on how to create and execute an effective career plan, including information on strategic planning, targeted goal setting and identifying valuable contacts and resources.

Acclaimed Career Coach, Kim Dority is a frequent presenter for Bryant & Stratton College Online. Dority is an information specialist, consultant, career coach, published author and adjunct professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. She has written extensively on career development for students and new graduates and is a frequent presenter, lecturer and panelist on career-related topics. Kim’s areas of expertise include professional branding, career transitions and career sustainability.


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