How to Know It’s Time for a Career Change

by Tobin Perry

If you haven’t had a career change yet, odds are that you will at some point. According to the Financial Times, the average person changes careers five times during their working life. Pursuing a new career can result from many causes—whether you experience a shift in your vocational direction and how you desire to apply your skills and passions, or you encounter a life event that alters your course.

This includes the most life-altering (and career-altering) event of the last century—the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted countless industries. If you’re considering a career change because of the pandemic, you’re certainly not alone. Changing careers, particularly during a time when everything seems up in the air, can seem daunting. How can you tell it’s time to make the change? What are the first steps you should take? An Azusa Pacific University assistant professor experienced a significant career change firsthand, leading him to research the process to help guide and advise others considering a new path.

When It’s Time to Change Careers

Mark Cawman, DBA, an assistant professor in APU’s School of Business and Management, took on teaching following a career in the aerospace industry. That experience—plus countless hours of research—led him to a simple but innovative seven-part process for considering a career change.

Called the “7P model,” it’s ideal for people committed to thinking and praying through a change in a way that aligns with their long-held values. Cawman’s seven-step model includes:

  • Purpose: Do you have buried talents that would be better invested in a different career?
  • Passion: Would a change give you the opportunity to spend more of your time on tasks that engage and satisfy you?
  • Priorities: Would the change of careers provide you a better opportunity to maintain previously established priorities, such as work-life balance?
  • Person: Would the change help you align with God’s design for your life and your understanding of your identity?
  • Preparation: Does the change align with events, accomplishments, and lessons demonstrated in your life previously?
  • Prayer: Have you prayed (and invited others to pray) about this decision as you’ve asked God to open and close doors of opportunities?
  • Praise: As you make this change, have you spent time praising God for the opportunities He has placed before you?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, Cawman believes it may be time for a career change. He recommends acting decisively at this point.

“Introspection, consideration, and conviction using the 7P model may put a desire and motivation to shift careers on an individual’s heart and mind,” Cawman said. “If this happens, employers see this! It is difficult to consider change and keep up the engagement necessary for sustained performance with a divided head and heart. Be deliberate but be decisive and expedient in the process.”

How to Know What Change to Make

Once you decide to change careers, it’s time to figure out what’s next. Cawman’s 7P model helps with this, particularly looking at the purpose, passion, and preparation questions. It’s natural to look at issues surrounding vocations in terms of the financial resources gained or status obtained, but it’s important to remember that “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare,” which means “to call.”

As you think through your sense of purpose, your passions, and how God has prepared you, you’ll likely see patterns emerging that give you a glimpse into what’s next.

“In the 7P Model, where do individuals find that purpose, passion, priorities, person, and preparation intersect—when engaged in prayer and praise?” said Cawman. “Usually, there is some clarity that occurs through the deliberate evaluation, looking for this intersection.”

Preparing for a Career Change

Once you’ve decided it’s time for a change and you’ve discerned what kind of change you need to make, it’s time for preparation. Cawman believes those making career changes can lean on previous work experiences for preparation, but they also can take advantage of advanced education.

Whether you’re looking to shift into business, teaching, ministry, or some other field, APU offers a full slate of engaging graduate programs as well as professional programs that can help you obtain a degree to support your desired profession. The university has helped countless students—no matter their age or life stage—access the education they need to change their lives.

“If everything suggests a direction in the individual’s life, but preparation is missing, APU has numerous programs that can equip individuals for various roles and careers,” Cawman said.

Want to learn more about potential APU programs to help you make this career shift? Learn more about graduate and professional programs at APU.