All too often we come across people that have drifted into a career and stayed there even though they’re not really happy. If you dread going into work on a Monday morning, it could be that you’re in the wrong profession, but do you know how to change career?
Starting over again can seem like a daunting prospect but with a little forethought and preparation, it can be done.
Wrong job or wrong career?
Think about the reasons you think a career change is necessary. Then decide whether those reasons are specific to your workplace (e.g. you don’t like your boss), simply a fact of life in your chosen career (e.g. stressful because it is target driven) or something that you personally have always found difficult to adjust to (e.g. shift work). If it’s the first one, then it may be your current place of work that is the issue, but if it is either of the last two, it could be that a career change is your best option.
Fight the fear
Many people thinking about a career change are worried that they will have to start from the bottom rung of the ladder, leading them to very quickly discount the idea. However, this is not always the case. Remember, you will already have gained plenty of valuable work (and life) experience that employers will value highly.
This could be anything from IT literacy to client liaison or problem solving skills. Make a list of all the transferable skills that you have developed. You’ll soon realise that you have a lot to offer any employer and a career change isn’t out of the question.
What is the best career for you?
So you’ve realised it’s time for a career change, and that you’ve got the skills to make it elsewhere, but what career would be right for you? It’s likely that you will have always secretly hankered over the idea of joining a particular profession, but if not, a little bit of research will help you come up with some suitable options.
Make a list of all the things that are most important to you in a job. Do you want to work on big ticket projects you can tell your grandchildren about? Do you want to make more money? Would you like more flexible working practices? It is also worth thinking about which of these are ‘nice to haves’ and which are absolutely non-negotiable, as it is likely that some sort of compromise will be necessary.
The next step when working out how to change career would be to do some internet research to find out what sort of jobs you think would fit the bill.
Beware the grass is greener complex
When you’re unhappy in your current career, it is very easy to glorify other careers and ignore potential drawbacks. You may think that you would be happy to take a huge salary cut in exchange for a less stressful working day, but this may seem less appealing when the reality of not having as much money kicks in. Similarly, you may well think you would enjoy the freedom of a contractor, but would you still feel so free when you couldn’t turn down a project that doesn’t appeal because there are no other offers on the horizon?
To avoid making a mistake, do plenty of research to find out what life in your chosen career will really be like. Attend networking events and conferences for your dream sector so you can talk to people and get a perspective about what a career in their industry is really like, and keep up to date with the trade press, as this can be a good guide to the particular stresses of an industry. Are you still sure that it’s for you?
Plan your escape
If you’re confident that a career change is definitely the best option, then it is time to start planning your move. Talk to a recruitment consultant at this point to see what you will need to do to get a foot in the door in your chosen profession. Again, keep on attending networking events in order to make new contacts, and remember to use your own personal network too.
Depending on the sort of move you hope to make, and the relationship you have with your boss, it might be worth speaking to your current employer to see if they can accommodate you in some way.
Though many employers have difficulty imagining a valued employee in a specific discipline in the company starting afresh in another field internally – it can be done, and if you have been a hardworking and productive employee for the company so far, they may not want to lose you. However, never have this chat with your employer until you’re confident that a career change is definitely the right thing for you, as it may make them question your commitment to the company in the short term. If they can’t help you – then it’s time to start looking elsewhere. (For information on how to leave your job see here.)
A study in change
You may need to invest some annual leave in getting work experience or an internship in your new sector, and in many cases you will need to gain some new qualifications. If this is the case, it may be worth looking into the possibility of a career development loan from your bank. It is possible to lend anything up to £10,000 – although you would need to be able to provide sound reasons for why you think this is a good investment. If further study is required, think about how you could make ends meet – you may even be able to find part time entry level work in your new career.
Once you’ve got the necessary work experience and qualifications to be in with a chance of getting your first ever dream job, it’s time to get applying……
Some pain, lots of gain
Remember, thousands of people change career every month. There may be some sacrifice in the short term, but surely that would be worth it to make going into work something you look forward to, rather than a chore?