Reducing Risk When Making a Career Change

What are the risks and opportunity costs involved in making a career change?

Although it may seem daunting, a career change can be looked at as an adventure. You are leaving behind what you know and you may not be sure what to expect or even know what your new career should be. You are going into the unknown and this often means taking some risks. If you are thinking of leaving your current job, giving up that paycheck and your benefits might be a big risk in your economic security. You may also be between jobs, where jumping into a new career would not be a risk in terms of losing a paycheck, but there are still the opportunity costs of making this decision—which might mean that if you chose the wrong career, you would have invested valuable time, effort, and money that did not lead to the right career for you.

Going on the adventure of a career change doesn’t mean you have to be careless or irresponsible. The opposite is true. Great adventurers are very careful and responsible in planning their adventure. They manage the details, while taking care of others who may depend on them, in order to reduce the risk of failure or, more significantly, a potential disaster.

There are two different theories when it comes to approaching a career change. One school of thought focuses more on the inner search. It suggests that if you just listen to your inner voice, you will find out what it is you should do, and then you should be bold and do it. The benefit of this approach is that you can focus all your energy and attention on pursuing your new career right away after your inner search is completed. However, if you have no practical experience in the new field, it comes with the risk that you might not enjoy the new career as much as you imagined.

The other school of thought says that you just go out and experiment and test different careers while you keep your current job. You will know, through experience, what is the right career for you. The benefit of this approach is that you will find out if you like the new career or not before giving up your current career. However, following the second approach alone might require trying too many career experiments before finding the right one for you.

In my experience, combining the two approaches has been more effective. Combining these approaches means reducing the risks and the time required for finding and transitioning into your new career. Doing the inner search and creating awareness about yourself first allows you to be more targeted in your career experiments and gives you a higher chance for success. On the other hand, doing a career experiment before you make your final decision for a new career reduces the economic risk involved in a career change.

THE BOOMERANG APPROACH is designed to reduce the risks and time involved in a career change by integrating the two approaches.

If you are thinking about making a career change, what are the main risks you are concerned about and what is your approach for preparing for it? I invite you to comment and share your experiences below.

To learn more, check out my book THE BOOMERANG APPROACH.