While we now know, a job for life is a thing of the past, changing careers is still a daunting prospect for most people. If you are in a position where you dread going to work each day or you feel trapped in an industry or company you despise, then you owe it to yourself to make it a priority to change your situation before it becomes desperate. Changing careers to achieve a more positive and enjoyable lifestyle takes courage and commitment, but it is possible – even in today’s uncertain job market.
However, in most cases you won’t simply be able to switch careers and expect the transition to be pain free. There are many things to consider before you jump ship. We’ve compiled a step by step guide that will help ensure you are ready for your next step – professionally, emotionally, and financially. Follow our guide, and you might just be facing the New Year with a new role and improved direction.
- Think about why you want a career change – is it really your career you need to change or is it just your current role that isn’t satisfying? Make a list of your core strengths and weaknesses, then think about the things you like to do and those you don’t. Once you have completed your analysis, you can look outside your current role, industry, and/or company and try to determine what aligns with your strengths and likes. We often find clients who are great at what they do and are in a job that is seemingly a good fit for them, but the company they work for is not ideal. It is very important at this stage to understand where your issues actually lie before embarking on a career change. If it’s the job you dislike, then perhaps a similar job in a different industry or environment could make you happier rather than a complete career change. If it’s certain aspects of your current role you dislike, there might be an opportunity to diversify and take on a role with slightly different responsibilities.
- Identify the direction you’d like to pursue – once you have decided that you do want to change careers, you need to think about where you’d like to head. If you have no idea, go back to your list of ‘likes’ and what you enjoy doing as well as what you’re good at. List your current skills, experience and education and think about how you might be able to transfer them to a different area. Research different careers using some of the numerous available online resources including those found in this month’s Useful Career Resources and Tools article. Identify what experience, knowledge, skills and qualifications you need to succeed. Many people who come to us for Career Coaching Services don’t know what direction they want to head in but they can gain advice or confirmation that their interest in changing careers is valid and ideas on what direction they might be able to take. At this point, it is very important to involve other people – professionals, family, work colleagues you can trust – to help you identify and clarify your new direction. You could also consider taking a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment to better understand your personality type, which can help you to effectively identify and/or narrow down some new career choices.
- Decide how to make that change – from the overview you’ve developed, look at how you might be able to make a change. You may have a lot to consider before deciding if and when to make your transition, including financial, family and study considerations. Analyse your financial situation and how that could be affected. Think about further study required and how you could achieve that – find out whether some or all of it can be completed part-time while still working. Think about the fact that many careers look great to an outsider, but the reality of the day to day job isn’t so interesting. Investigate opportunities for volunteer work to help you gain the experience you need. Seek out and talk to people already working in your area of interest to gain a better understanding of their opinions and experiences to help you become more informed.
- Look to the future – when considering any career change, it is important not to dwell on the past and worry about how many years you’ve ‘wasted’ in a career you loath. Many people who’ve spent years working towards a career or role they longed for at a younger age are reluctant to ‘throw it all in’ but focus on the years you have left ahead of you and how your unhappiness working in a role you dislike will affect the rest of your life. Conversely, simply walking away from a career that you aren’t happy with isn’t always the answer either. Sometimes, changing small things can help. Taking up a hobby or volunteering in an area that you’re passionate about can change your mindset and give you something to look forward to. Likewise, seeking out a similar role in a different company or industry can often be the answer.
Changing careers can be a very rewarding experience, but will require strong courage and conviction from you. It may involve lots of hard work – especially if you need to complete additional training or study. Taking an honest look at why you want to change careers and what you hope to achieve is a great first step to ensuring you achieve a successful career change.