Look at this before you leap

This week's cover package includes profiles of locals who made drastic career changes in pursuit of interests and dreams. If you're thinking about making a transition of your own, hopefully you were inspired by their stories. But before you make that leap, prepare yourself with the five tips below, courtesy of Jeremy Worthington, owner of Worthington Career Services in Powell.

1) Be proactive. “Running toward what you want should always be stronger than running away from what you have,” Worthington said. In other words, before you step into a new career, be sure you're pursuing what you truly want to do rather than simply latching on to a position simply because you want to escape your current employer. It's just like diving into a new relationship or buying a car too quickly; you may end up in a worse situation.

2) Be realistic. When switching fields, you may not make the same salary; it's very likely you'll take a pay cut. “When you are going to make a radical transition … you're going to leave some of your credibility behind,” Worthington said. “And credibility is one of the variables that make up your market value.”

3) Be versatile. During your search, think of your distribution campaign as spokes on a hub. “You have to turn over every rock that you possibly can,” Worthington said. For example, some people make the mistake of relying solely on recruiters, which is not a wise strategy, especially when moving to a new industry. “[Recruiters] charge employers up to 30 percent of the hired candidate's first year's compensation,” Worthington continued. “Employers don't pay big fees for inexperience, so recruiters normally have no interest in career changers.”

4) Be patient. Prepare for a long search with results that depend on your amount of effort. “You could search like a cat or you could search like a gerbil,” Worthington said. “Cats take cat naps … and they're lackadaisical. … If you're a gerbil, you're scurrying around doing things … [and] you've got all kinds of activity.” Be the gerbil and find resources like job coaches to help with your strategy and resume. “You can't just click and pray,” Worthington added.

5) Be certain. You can't fully predict how your new career will turn out, but you can make sure you've done enough research to determine whether or not you're truly enthusiastic. Shadowing people in your desired position, or conducting informational interviews can help. “And research where the field is going to go,” Worthington said. “It may not be exciting and new in a few years, or even a few months.”