Career changers often realize they need information before making a commitment to change, but its not always clear what career information will be critical to your unique challenge. You need more than answers: you need questions.
For example, consider a career changer we can call Suzanne. Suzanne outgrew her stuffy finance job after ten exhausting years. She was ready for a new career and she wanted to write a novel.
Of course, she realized, the market for novelists was on the thin side. So she signed up for a one-year program at her local college with the goal of becoming a mental health counselor.
Like all new students, Suzanne talked with an Enrollment Manager, formerly known as Admissions. He was very encouraging.
You will have no trouble getting a job, Suzanne was told. Suzanne also talked to her former college roommate who was in the health care field. She visited a few professors who taught in the program. Nobody raised a red flag.
Then Suzanne got a major reality shock. As she finished her year in the program, she was piling up debts but no interviews were offered. What was going on?
Suzanne hadnt realized that her enrollment manager was more like a salesperson than an advisor. He gets compensated by the number of people who enroll in the university after meeting with him. Suzannes future professors had been warned to say only positive things; the university needed students who would pay tuition.
Suzannes friend knew the field but didnt know this particular program. She wasnt a good source of information because her info was outdated.
In any case, Suzanne was different from other students. She was a senior executive experiencing a career transition. The young college graduates with no job experience were viable candidates for entry level jobs. Some of Suzannes senior classmates were already established; they obtained degrees to advance with their current organizations. This goal was fine and the program may have been fine too. The question is, did Suzannes goals fit this program?
Career change requires getting interviews from a variety of people. One approach is to use the Rule of Six. Ask six people, who resemble you as much as possible, at least six targeted questions. If possible, talk to a dozen or more people.
Most career changers stop after interviewing just one or two people. They get a misleading idea about a career field. If just one person presents a negative, they can rule out a whole field, although the information might be biased or even wrong.