Seven Rules for Choosing or Changing Careers

Now, when you have to choose, or change, a career, here are seven rules to keep in mind:

Rule #1 about choosing or changing a career: go for any career that seems interesting or even fascinating to you. But first talk to people who are already doing that work, to find out if the career or job is as great as it seems at first impression. Ask them: what do you like best about this work? What do you like least about this work? And, how did you get into this work? This last question, which sounds like mere cheeky curiosity, actually can give you important job-hunting clues about how you get into this line of work or career.

Rule #2 about choosing or changing a career: the key to doing this successfully is to make sure that you preserve both constancy and change, in your life. In other words, don't change everything. Remember the words of Archimedes with his long lever, loosely paraphrased as: Give me a fulcrum and a place to stand, and with a lever I will move the Earth. You need a place to stand, when you move your life around, and that place is provided by the things that stay constant about you: your transferable skills, your values, your faith.

Rule #3 about choosing or changing a career: you do better to start with yourself and what you want, rather than with the job-market, and what's "hot."

Rule #4 about choosing or changing a career: the best work, the best career, for you is going to be one that uses: your favorite transferable skills, in your favorite subjects, fields, or fields of fascination, in a job that offers you your preferred people environments, your preferred working conditions, with your preferred salary or other rewards, working toward your preferred goals and values. This requires thorough self-inventory. Detailed instructions are to be found in chapter 11.

Rule #5 about choosing or changing a career: the more time you give to it, the better your choice is going to be. There is a penalty for seeking "quick and dirty" fixes.

Rule #6 about choosing or changing a career: you don't have to get it right, the first time; it's okay to make a mistake, in your choice. You'll very likely have time to correct it, down the road, regardless of your age. Most of us have three to five careers, during our lifetime.

Rule #7 about choosing or changing a career: try to make the task as much fun as possible. The more fun you're having, the more you're doing it right.

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