Changing Careers With the Same Employer

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If you're considering a career change, it doesn't necessarily have to mean changing your employer. If you're happy with the company you work for but unhappy with your job or just want to change the direction of your career, you might want to look into changing positions with the same employer.

Just like any transition, changing careers at the same company can come with some unique challenges, but you can navigate them successfully if you're prepared.

Leaving Your Former Position Behind

It's possible that your employer may ask you to "help out" with your old role for a while.

If you did well in your previous position, you may be leaving a hole that could take a while to fill. Since you're still an employee of the company and didn't really "leave your job" but just "changed your focus," your old manager and perhaps even senior management may ask you to do some double-duty until your position is filled.

In some cases, this could mean that you won't be able to give full focus to your new position until they hire someone new.

Set Clear Expectations

If you're changing jobs within a company, it's ideal if the company hires your replacement before the switch. But if that can't happen, be sure to set clear boundaries and expectations with management before making the change to ensure they don't expect you to continue helping out in the old position while starting the new one. Get this in writing if possible.

At the same time, you don't have to completely end your relationship with your former team members. Make an effort to stay in touch with them and maintain your professional connections.

Adjusting to Your New Role

Another risk that you take when changing careers but keeping the same employer is the temptation to return to your previous career before giving your new career an honest chance. The toughest parts of this type of transition can be the first days, weeks, months, or sometimes even years.

As soon as you come on board, schedule individual meetings with your new teammates to find out more about each of their roles and what they're working on. Being proactive about this can go a long way in adjusting to a new team.

During these challenging periods, some professionals are tempted to just go back to what they know. And since they work for the same employer, going back can seem easy and appealing. But trying to jump back after a few weeks when things don't go as smoothly as expected usually isn't a good idea.

The truth is that going back to a former job doesn't work out for many people. That's because once they're back in their old careers, they begin to remember why they wanted to leave in the first place. And once their mindset is back to where it was before making the initial career move, it is often too late to save a potentially good career.

Don't come in suggesting changes right off the bat—people don't usually respond well to this. Instead, take the first few weeks to spend time listening to your new team. You may even find that they have a vocabulary that's slightly different then what you're used to, and you may need to make adjustments.

If you make a career move and stay with your employer, you need to give yourself plenty of time to adjust to the new position. Transitions like this may cause some unavoidable discomfort. Make a list of reasons why you wanted to make the career change as a reminder to help carry you through these challenging times.