Focus on the Family

Making a Career Change

fromFocus on the Family

Ever think about making a career change? If so, you're not alone. According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, Baby Boomers change jobs, on average, 10 times during their working years.

Career counselors cite a number of reasons why we search for greener pastures: The lure of a bigger salary or greater job flexibility, involuntary layoffs or termination, even intolerable co-workers. For one reason or another, 45 percent of us last year—in the private sector alone—left an existing job to work elsewhere.

The challenge is clear: Employees today have to rethink their roadmap to success, rediscover their talents and strengths and sometimes remake their dreams for the future.

A time of career transition is also an ideal time to stop and reflect on God's plan for your life. Reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses objectively; this will give you the courage to scrutinize your personality and help reaffirm your self-confidence. And be sure to make Christ the centerpiece of any job change; seek the Lord's guidance before you accept a new position, no matter how attractive it appears.

Finally, you don't want to carry the stress of your previous job into a new position, so take a deep breath and embrace a fresh start to a bold, new adventure.

Developing a Job Search Strategy

Looking to make a career change? Develop a strategy to ensure this stressful time will benefit you and your family

fromCrown Financial Ministries

A job search is similar to a typical business developmental plan: you identify your objective, you identify the resources needed to achieve your objective, and you develop a well-thought-out plan. So, if you are one of the 4.1 percent or more than 5 million who are part of the unemployed in this country, we encourage you to develop a strategy similar to the one listed below that addresses the three parts of a typical developmental plan.

  1. Make God the centerpiece of your search strategy.
    • Trust God.
    • Check your spiritual pulse.
    • Spend extra time in prayer and Bible study. Read the Psalms and Philippians in particular.
  2. Make a list of your assets as a person and as an employee.
    • Identify your transferable skills and abilities, personality strengths, and career focus.
    • Identify your work priorities.
    • Outline your work history to show the responsibilities you have had and the types of work you have done.
    • Develop a résumé. Keep it to one page unless you have been employed 10 years in the same field.
    • Be ready to tailor it to fit particular job openings.
    • Develop a reference pool.
    • Compile a list of people who know something of your work history and are in a good position to evaluate your job performance.
  3. Communicate with others.
    • Get involved with an accountability/support group.
    • Share with God and other believers your feelings of loss, anger, depression, and stress.
    • Pay special attention to the needs of spouse and children.
    • Seek out at least one primary support relationship besides your spouse to help serve as a career coach. This should be someone of your gender.
  4. Develop a short-term financial plan.
    • Immediately take stock of your finances, including savings, spendable assets, and income, and include severance pay or state unemployment compensation. Acceptance of unemployment compensation while you are out of work and looking for another job is neither unscriptural nor unethical. Unemployment compensation is an insurance that your employer (or you, depending on your state) has paid for you. If you have peace about accepting the government’s aid, then you should accept it. We urge you to pray about this matter and let God direct you.
    • Set up a short-term budget.
    • Cut expenses.
    • Know your bottom-line monthly needs.
    • Project your cash flow and determine how long you can afford to be unemployed.
    • Call on believers if you need financial assistance or help getting through this transitional period.
    • Accept help from your church.
  5. Get the word out about you and the objective you are seeking.
    • Network. Use leads from people you know to make direct contact with potential employers.
    • Consider having business cards printed with key phrases regarding your career objective and your major qualifications printed on the back.
    • Get involved in a church-sponsored job network group.
    • Set and meet goals for daily calls and personal contacts.
    • Qualify your contacts.
    • Search the Internet for job-listing Web sites and respond to classified ads.
    • Follow up on all contacts. If you were granted an interview, follow up with a letter.
  6. Maintain a normal daily routine.
    • Get up and get dressed for work. Physically go to your “office,” whether it is a room in your house dedicated to job search or your local library.
    • Covenant with your spouse or friend to call you and hold you accountable to your goals and encourage you.
    • Spend six to eight hours per day looking for work.
    • Relax, read, and relate to your family members.
  7. Continue to trust God and wait patiently for Him to provide your next job.

At this nation’s present rate of industrialization and technological advancement, we are forced to come to grips with the fact that jobs are now less secure than they have been in the past. Over the long haul an employee generally cannot look to his or her employer for job security. However, the best way to increase the odds of being employed or staying employed is to know your talents, develop them, and be truly excellent in work habits. Since jobs are so insecure, flexibility is essential. Therefore, knowing how to find a career that best fits into the parameters of your talents, abilities, and capabilities and then focusing on the follow-through of that search—while relying upon God’s guidance and His directive—are the primary ingredients needed to insure success in the job search market.

Why We Change Careers

If you change careers, you may fit into one of these four distinct categories.

from Crown Financial Ministries

The past century has been an era of unbelievable changes. We literally have gone from the horse and buggy days to outer space in less than 100 years. At the turn of the twentieth century, 90 percent of Americans worked in agriculture, usually on small family farms. At the close of the 20th century, less than five percent made their living by working on family farms.

The advancement of technology, with its need for thousands of technology related jobs, was the fuel that powered the shift in this country from an agricultural society to an industrial society. Before long a person’s employment was at the discretion of and the will of the industrial machine. With the advancement of technology came the evolution of mass production from one that was primarily people oriented to one of mechanical orientation. In so doing, a new generation of the unemployed has evolved—a generation that can be separated into four different categories: job mismatch, no job, entering or reentering the workforce, or no direction.

Job mismatch

Job mismatch is the most common justification for people to quit their jobs. Experiencing a lack of fulfillment and corresponding low motivation toward work, along with a sense that they have chosen a field of work that is not a good match for their talents, are the primary factors that have caused people to quit their jobs without having other jobs lined up. The vast majority of these who quit their jobs are stressed out, even to the point of not wanting to go to work every morning. In some cases this job stress has been so acute that it has resulted in health problems. So, to ensure a less stressful and healthier life, they have quit their previous jobs and are job hunting.

No job

Many who had jobs have become victims of cutbacks, restructuring, and downsizing; many have lost their jobs after years of loyal service to a business, company, or corporation. These layoffs generally are not personality motivated; rather, the layoffs are economically motivated. A business cannot afford to stay in business if it pays more in employee salaries and benefits than it collects in revenues. Sometimes these cutbacks are known far enough in advance for people to begin looking for replacement jobs. At other times cutbacks come without warning and have a tremendous impact on families. For those who have experienced downsizing, layoffs, or cutbacks, it’s much like a death or a divorce, especially if the victims are middle-aged and find that their work experience and expertise, loyalty and work ethic, or education are no longer enough to ensure new jobs.

Entering or reentering the workforce

This group has expanded rapidly in recent years. Some are homemakers who have chosen either to enter the workforce or reenter the workforce and pursue careers. Some are divorce victims who are forced to reenter the workforce. Still others have been victims of layoff or cutbacks and are trying to learn new careers or enhance their talents and gifts to become more valuable on the job market.

No direction

A large number of this group are young people who have little exposure to the outside world of work, so they don’t know much about what is available. They then tend to choose occupations out of ignorance or based on trends and the values of society. Another part of this group are those who have been laid off and have no direction regarding which way to go next, have no training in anything other than the job that was taken from them, or feel that they are too old to start over.

Choosing the Right Job for the Right Reason

When choosing a vocation Christians must weigh their priorities very carefully, because when we are out of God's priority guidelines, we are out of His will.

from Crown Financial Ministries

A survey in Business Week magazine reported that only one out of six Americans is content with his or her job.

That means that nearly 83 percent are dissatisfied. The most consistent complaint was a lack of fulfillment or long-term purpose.

Certainly, many Christians also fall within this large group of dissatisfied, fearful workers. Why? Primarily because their value system has been altered by worldly standards to a great degree.

Vocational goals

Our society defines successful people as those with good educations, secure positions, and plenty of money.

However, the Bible says that successful people are those who serve God first, are of service to other people, provide for family needs, and are at peace with themselves and with contemporaries.

For Christians to accept non-Christian vocational goals is to invite future problems. “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Regardless of the income, prestige, or security of a vocation, unless it truly merges with God’s will, unrest will persist.

The primary characteristic of those who successfully discern God’s will for their lives is that they continually seek to put God first. Most Christians experience doubts and anxieties when faced with major decisions. However, consistently putting God first eliminates most anxiety-producing decisions before they become crises.

Without exception, most people who are trapped in prestigious, well-paying jobs that don’t meet their inner needs spend their lives envying the very people who are envying them. “There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth” (Proverbs 13:7).

Vocational direction

The only true way to find God’s direction is to seek it earnestly.

Most Christians do not sense His direction because of worldly pressures associated with the income, prestige, or security of a good job, or they sense it and then lose it by failing to act on it.

The best indicators of correct vocational direction for people are their basic abilities. God has endowed every Christian with unique abilities, desires, and gifts to accomplish His will through them (see 1 Corinthians 12). As Christians seek to truly serve God, the Holy Spirit will make known God’s perfect vocation for them.

Vocational decision

Authentic vocations should not be based on our wills or our desires in life. A vocation is not doing what we want to do in our lives, unless of course it is also God’s will. Choosing the right vocation must include discerning what He wants for us in our lives.

As Christians, we have the advantage of knowing a certain future. Thus, we have the responsibility to orient our lives accordingly. In addition, we have the advantage of being able to see life from God’s perspective.

Therefore, it is vital to seek discernment regarding God’s plan. Because our decision must be based primarily on how we can best use our gifts and talents to serve Him, accepting nothing less than the vocation that will complement and extend that ministry is essential.

There is nothing wrong with a successful career; in fact, God promises great blessings. “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4). However, attitude is the key ingredient in any vocational decision. Is the decision made by worldly standards—security, ego, income—or is it made to please and serve God and thus serve other people? “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

In choosing a vocation Christians must weigh their priorities very carefully, because when we are out of God’s priority guidelines, we are out of His will. Christians can tell whether they are out of His priority system by asking the following questions. (1) Is my personal relationship with the Lord affected? This includes my time spent in God's Word, in prayer, and in worship with others; and (2) Is my relationship with my family affected? This includes time spent with my spouse/child(ren).

Many vocational alternatives and options can be eliminated simply because they do, or have the potential to, conflict with these priorities. By evaluating every alternative and option through prayer and mature Christian counsel, Christians can guard against violating God’s laws while fulfilling life’s goals.

Common Career Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When looking for a job, frame your search around the type of work that suits you best.

fromCrown Financial Ministries

Choosing a career is generally not a one-time decision; it’s a series of decisions, made as you progress through different stages of life, experience, and responsibility. As we move from one stage of life into another, we begin to adapt our lifestyles and family commitments to conform to our present employment needs or demands. However, this adaptation might not be the best way to approach career decisions. In fact, because the majority of us are not satisfied with our current jobs, it seems obvious that the way we adapt our lifestyles to fit our current employment demands has been in error. As such, most of us need to unlearn the errors and then learn the truth regarding career decisions.

Common errors when making career decisions

The following are the eight most common career-choice errors.

  1. Choosing the first or easiest job you can get. To choose a job based on its ease is not being a good steward of the talents and abilities that God has given (Proverbs 13:4). Our goal should always be to move into areas in which we are using our strongest talents and abilities in our work.
  2. Choosing a job based on salary. This error is so established in our culture that it’ll take a strong commitment to faith in God’s guidance to choose a job based on talents, rather than on salary. A job chosen based on salary will not be satisfying (Ecclesiastes 5:10). God will supply our needs if we trust Him totally.
  3. Choosing a job because it provides a good title. Doing what you’re good at and what you enjoy is generally a far better consideration in choosing a career than selecting a title and doing the work that accompanies it (Proverbs 12:9).
  4. Taking a job just because management offers it. Discuss your work-related attributes with your employer to indicate the areas that will be the best fit for you. You may be better off expanding your area of responsibility in your present job, instead of moving away from your skills and area of expertise.
  5. Choosing a job because that’s what your parents do. Don’t choose a career track because that’s what your parents do. God has created you to be unique. Discover that uniqueness and develop your career plans around it.
  6. Choosing a job to fulfill your parents' unfulfilled dream. Parents must be careful not to steer their children to something they themselves would like; rather, children should be encouraged to follow a career path that best suits their God-given talents and abilities.
  7. Choosing a job just because you have the minimum ability to do it. There are many jobs we can do, but they are not necessarily God’s plan for us. Usually His plan also involves our strongest skills, our personalities, and our motivations.

How to make good career decisions

The following are eight steps we should take as we prepare to make career decisions.

  1. Clarify your purpose in life. Place your life in God’s hands and trust His guidance completely (Ephesians 2:10). He will show you how your talents and abilities can best be used to glorify Him.
  2. Discover your natural inclinations and how to use them effectively. Understand how God has gifted you. Consider your abilities, talents, personality strengths, values, and principles.
  3. Investigate several occupations that fit your talents and personality. Concentrate on jobs that are a potential good fit. Read, interview people, and visit job sites in order to identify jobs that best suit your talent profile.
  4. Seek God’s confirmation. Continue to pray specifically for God’s direction in your search and His leading in your decision. Share your desire with other mature, trusted Christians and seek their counsel.
  5. Choose your initial destination and develop a plan to get there. This might include specialized inner company education, special training, on-campus education, or correspondence courses. Develop a resumé that reflects your talents, desires, and abilities.
  6. Learn to manage your career. If your chosen career demands compliance or change in order to maintain productivity, to keep up with the ever-changing technological world, or to be competitive, you must learn how to adjust. Hone and tailor your talents to assure compatibility.
  7. Become a lifelong learner. We must study both God’s Word and our vocations in order to show ourselves approved by both God and management. This is most essential in today’s fast paced world of constant change and innovation. Employees who do not “keep up” with these changes may find themselves left behind, regardless of their talents, experience, or company seniority.
  8. Refine your career as you progress. After you’re in a job you’ll see areas that need improving and developing. However, be careful to avoid areas in which you are not suited or qualified, based on your talents and abilities.

Too often we work things backwards. We decide on the results we want and then pray that God will bless our decision, and we try desperately to fit into the mold that is demanded. When we do this, we deny Him full control and we deny ourselves a career that is compatible with our God-given gifts and talents. If we are going to be successful in career selection decisions, we must identify our talents, abilities, and personalities; understand how they can best be used; and then turn the results over to God.

Making a Career Change

A continued list of helpful resources, links and organizations related to changing jobs.

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