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17 Most Common Career Change Mistakes

Written by: Miriam Freeman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Career change is an emotionally tough decision that usually pushes professionals to make mistakes that will create more frustration. When these professionals finally reach out to me, they are mostly hopeless, angry, some financially tight, and all at their wit’s end. In this article, I want to share with you some of the common mistakes among these change seekers, so hopefully, you will be better off if you’re going through a similar transition.

1. Considering salary the highest priority

Although compensation is an important element of any job, job satisfaction does not completely depend on financial factors. We should make a wholesome decision that also accounts for other factors such as the culture, work-life balance, potential for growth, etc. These elements combined will contribute to our feelings toward our job and a decision that ignores so many other elements will create even more challenges and regrets down the road.

2. Rushing through decisions

Out of discomfort and annoyance, some professionals will rush to make a decision. Some will decide to change their field while only switching employers would have been enough to bring them joy & comfort. Motivations behind a career change must be understood before making a career decision.

Another rushing mistake is to jump to conclusions and decide on the job you want to do in the future. Pause to analyze and understand every aspect of your professional history. Set goals and prioritize steps before deciding on a course of action.

3. Jumping to school

Some professionals who are going through change, decide on their future career after chatting with a friend who claims they know someone in this business who is “earning loads of money doing literally nothing!”. Then same day a 30-second motivational video pops up on their phone and boom; they sign up for a new course or commit to a long-term degree or diploma. After a few months, reality hits them and things don’t look as promising anymore so they change their decision once again and run to sign up for another course. These financial and energy investments will pump their expectations higher and this alone can bring them more disappointments in the future.

4. Wanting to advance overnight

It is a reality that we cannot fight or deny: because you were a great business analyst in your previous career does not guarantee that you will be highly valued as a future yoga teacher. You have to exercise a bit of patience; you might have to start from the beginning and move up from there in your new career. Although, that doesn’t mean that you cannot use your previous skills to boost your future career success if those skills are somewhat transferable and you know how to use those skills creatively.

5. People pleasing

You cannot decide on a future job just to make someone else happy. A career decision is not about what others want for you, It’s about you and your future. Although others’ approvals can be a bonus, they must not be the base of your decision.

Those whose happiness truly matters will want your success. So, you are better off choosing a career that is best suited for you to ensure that you will be successful in it & this means that you have to get to know your strengths and weaknesses very well and you must be willing to accept, love and nurture and grow yourself as a whole.

6. Wanting someone to choose for you

You have to take ownership of your decisions. You can not ask someone else what to do.

In my experience, the majority of people who want someone else to choose for them, are looking for a scapegoat, someone else to blame for the possible mishaps of the future.

Only if you take full responsibility, you will put all your effort in & that is the only way to ensure your success.

7. Not having an updated resume

When you go through a career change, you will need to brush up on your resume & LinkedIn profile. You will need to reflect and demonstrate your transferable skills for your future career. No one cares about your previous photography skills if they are hiring a project coordinator. But, if you can demonstrate how you worked through multiple deadlines to deliver your clients’ photos, now you are talking.

8. Not taking a deeper dive

You have to go through the key drivers that can help you with your decision. You have to go through your past and take inventory of your career assets to ensure you are choosing the right path. Some paths will build upon your current skills and can be achieved easier while other decisions will require longer commitments. Either way, you have to know in advance and properly plan for it.

9. Not having a bounce-back plan

Yes, you will need a Bounce Back Plan. Every plan looks promising on paper but many will fall apart in the face of reality. If you have a Bounce Back Plan you will think ahead of all possible future challenges and will prepare for potential useful strategies. That way you can gather your thoughts and resources on time so that you can expedite your progress.

10. Dropping the mic

Some will quit their current jobs without a plan to move forward. Out of frustration or excitement, many professionals drop everything and submit their resignations too early, thinking they will find another job so quickly. The truth is, Quitting is easy and fast you don’t need much planning for it, so keep it for the last.

11. Not willing to be flexible

Going through a career change, you have to be flexible. You will need to step out of your comfort zone and sometimes use creative methods to get into a new field. You may have to reach out to your network for help or advice. You might have to learn new skills or broaden your knowledge. If you want to stick to what you know and what you are comfortable with, the process of your career change can get even harder.

12. Expecting assurance

Career change comes with an innate risk. Future is always unknown and although many factors can be taken into consideration and many planning can be put in place to increase the odds of success. However, there is never a full assurance when it comes to something that is affected by many moving pieces that are mostly out of your control. My advice: if anyone offers you such a guarantee, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

13. Skipping steps

There are steps involved in a career decision such as looking at your past, considering your present, and then setting a clear and reasonable goal and coming up with a game plan. Many change seekers skip the first two steps; they ignore their past and present then jump right into their dreams. Most of this group will realize that they made a mistake and will move back to their previous career and work with disappointment for years. They don’t realize that wanting to change wasn’t a mistake, rather it was their approach to change that set their faith from step one.

14. Wrong expectations

Some professionals who are going through career change have the wrong expectations: They expect their future employers to know about the extent of their experience and find a way to incorporate those skills into their required tasks.

Employers mostly know their field and only care about those skills that are required to fulfill the tasks related to the vacancy they have to fill. It is your job to demonstrate to your future employers how your experience as a carpenter can help you be a better nurse, not the other way around.

15. Not doing the research

Some will jump the gun, drop the mic, go to school and spend all their savings just to realize that there are no job openings for them in their city and they cannot move! You have to do labor market research: full-fledged research to learn everything there is to know about your future choices. Look at possible opportunities, career paths, certifications, required credentials, labor laws, etc. This knowledge is a valuable tool that can help you minimize the risk of making a wrong move.

16. Not being mentally ready

Career change is not an easy or quick process. You have to be ready to spend time and answer uncomfortable questions yourself. You have to be brave to accept some difficult truth and take a reasonable risk. You must be willing to talk about things and be flexible to analyze them from different angles. You must be open to another perspective no matter how different. That means you have to be mentally ready and strong.

17. Working it out by yourself

Some will take it solo. They will spend months reading confusing blog posts with opposite messages. They will take online quizzes and tests without knowing what the result means or how they could be useful to them. They will go through emotional roller coasters and get frustrated and disappointed, but this process can be way more manageable if you ask for help.

During my career, I went through a couple of 180-degree changes and a few minor adjustments. Back then, coaching was not as popular or easily accessible as today, So, I tried and tested different quizzes, read many books and blog posts, sifted through, and compiled the most reliable and proven methods that can make a career decision possible in the shortest time. I had to put together a process that would make sense and then break it down into achievable steps. Then I had to actually go through every stage of the process myself and adjust the course when needed. These steps have helped me choose a career path that I have been happy with and successful in for years now. Today, I share what has worked for me through my coaching practice to help other professionals gain confidence in their choices.

Follow Miriam on her Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and visit her website for more information.


Miriam Freeman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Miriam is a Career-Mindset Strategist and a certified coach. With more than two decades of professional experience in critical and leadership roles in some of Canada’s largest corporations and has been a committee member of the board of directors for a leading organization in Toronto. Continual learning and personal development have always been core principles in her life and work. After graduating with an MBA, she pursued additional studies in Law, taxation, Positive Psychology, and Tiny Habits.

She has worked, lived, and studied in different countries, and learned to adapt to different cultures of the East and the West. Her life experiences in addition to her positive attitude helped her expand her appreciation for mindfulness, honesty, and focus on heart and mind at the same time.

Miriam helps her clients pivot their mindset, create winning habits, change their trajectory and build the career they desire while enjoying a meaningful life.



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