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Risky career moves for the gutsy career woman

Kendra Y. Mims is a freelance writer and online content editor in the Chicagoland area. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in journalism. Her passions include writing, reading, and traveling.

Ready to take a career risk?

When the alarm clock goes off in the morning, do you dread getting up because your current 9 to 5 has become such a drag? Although you may be satisfied with your paychecks, enjoy building relationships with your co-workers, and perhaps even love what you do, your bad attitude and lack of passion scream that it’s time for a change – and not just any change. We’re not talking about transferring to a different department or working harder in hopes of a promotion, we’re talking risk-taking, gutsy career moves.

Self-Employed Woman

Making a career move isn't always easy. It can be a huge gamble and takes a lot of courage, especially in an economy in which we all have witnessed massive layoffs in various industries at all levels nationwide. However, with determination, strength, and a clear vision of your short- and long-term goals as well as a strong, well-researched plan, a career change can be risky but ultimately rewarding. Ready to make a change to ignite that currently lackluster career passion?

Risky career moves that work

1Become Self-Employed

Starting your own business is one of the best ways to become passionate about your career. Maybe you have a great business idea, but you've been too busy working your current 9 to 5 to really explore the possibility that your business idea could come to life. It's true, an idea alone won't run a successful business, but putting in the time to research, create a plan, and research some more, can give you the affirmation that it is time to make a gutsy career move. Many business owners will tell you that owning your own business is not impossible but it does take work and certainly doesn't happen overnight.

Career coach Don Orlando believes that women are more successful at running businesses than men. He advises that you should really invest time in becoming knowledgeable about the business you want to start, and he recommends reaching out to the best in the business you are pursuing for insight. "People fail in the companies they run because they work in the business and forget to work for the business," he states. He points out that most small businesses also fail because of their lack of a business plan, and not from the lack of money.

The risks of starting your own business

So why is starting your own business a risky move? You are leaving behind a stable job with benefits to dedicate your time and resources to starting your business. And if you've watched the news at any point since the economy took a turn for the worse, you already know the job market is unstable and banks have made it harder to borrow money for all loans. A smart alternative to jumping in with both feet is to keep a foot in your current career; try cutting down to part-time hours until you are able to make the transition to running your business full-time comfortably. Take into consideration the time you'll need to conduct extensive amounts of research to create your thorough business plan as well as time needed to network, study your competition, and even be mentored by the best in the field.

2Moving Onward and Upward

Switching to an industry that is progressing could be a good move with long-term rewarding benefits, especially if you know your current job industry is downsizing. By switching your career to a growing industry, you may have nothing to lose. Wendy Enelow, an author, trainer and career consultant, warns people to steer clear from jobs in the volatile industries, such as the banking and finance, and to gravitate more toward industries that have demonstrated stability, such as healthcare, grocery, or energy.

"No matter what happens, we are always going to go to the doctor, and to the grocery store and turn on our lights," Enelow says. "People should plan their career; you want to look at what careers are on the move." Enelow advises to not launch a job search unless you're fully prepared.

Make sure you are switching to an industry that will utilize your skills and strengths. You want that company to benefit from you as much as you want benefits from the company. Certain skills in one area can be applied to multiple industries. Additionally, companies are more willing to hire you if they see you have been currently active in the workforce. "You're way more employable if you are employed," Enelow says.

The risks of moving onward and upward from your current job

Leaving an industry in which you have experience may be a brave move to you, but an even riskier move is staying in an industry that you know is not secure. However, you will also be going head to head with others who want to transition to the more stable industries; competition is thick in industries that are booming. If you have not completed your homework on the new industries you want to move in to, you may find it difficult to get ahead. Bottom line: Enelow believes this career move is a calculated low-level risk, assuming that you perform your job to your best ability.

3Work for Free

Although this may not sound appealing, this career move can have long-term rewards. If you are interested in a particular company or a specific field, taking an unpaid internship or doing work on a pro bono basis may work out in your favor. Of course, this career strategy takes some careful planning and self-motivation. Boosting yourself up to work without receiving an actual paycheck may be difficult, so it is important to target an industry or specific company you feel strongly about, increasing the likelihood that your experience there goes far beyond a paycheck. Volunteering your services could be the necessary step to lead you into your ideal career. When job openings within the company become available, it is possible that you will be a strong candidate due to your volunteer services. Your passion and dedication will become evident when you work for free, and if you perform to your best ability, the company may extend an offer to hire you as a full-time employee, proving that your commitment and hard work will have paid off.

The risks of working for free

The biggest risk is not landing a job from your efforts. There is certainly no guarantee that the company will hire you once the internship or contract period has ended. Further, if you leave your current job to do an unpaid internship or free work, you also put yourself at financial risk. It's important to financially plan ahead before you give up your current paycheck. Enelow believes working for free is a risky move but a smart move that has long-term benefits. Although all of your time spent may not result in a job offer, you will have networked and gained valuable experience that will strengthen you as an employee in the workforce.

Gutsy career women get ahead

Are you still pumped to plan your next career move? If you are having cold feet, don't worry. Fear is normal and can actually be healthy. Fred E. Coon, the chairman and CEO of Stewart, Cooper & Coon, a career transition firm, says don't omit the idea of failure completely. "You should have a healthy recognition that failure is possible. Fear of failure is a driving force for success," he explains.

Well put, but don't let that fear overtake you. A career savvy woman understands that with any change there may be risks, but she's up for the challenge and knows that success has her name on it.

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