A change of career can be both an exciting and daunting prospect. However, for most people a change of career takes place through planning and preparation - it's only the lucky few that get an offer of their dream job out of the blue. For many people a complete change of career is perceived as too risky step to take, no matter how unhappy they are in their current roles. Others find that illness, redundancy or relocation gives rise to reassessing career options.
Preparation is the key to any career change and if you are even remotely considering changing the direction of your career you should consider your motives and the implications of such a decision. Also very important is how you can progress a career change from a daydream to reality.
Flexsource has developed the following list of tips to help you make a decision on whether to take a giant leap and work towards working in a career area you feel will be more satisfying for you.
Why are you considering a career change?
The first thing to consider, perhaps jotting it down on paper, is why do you want to move into a different career field? Are internal issues in your current position impacting on the decision? Is it boredom with your current company, role, colleagues, tasks? Do you feel you're not being challenged enough? Is your boss, colleagues or work environment unbearable? Would changes in your current work situation such as a promotion or transfer be enough? Will a change in career result in any change or will you just end up in similar circumstances, but with a different title? If you’re currently not in employment think about these areas in relation to your career to date.
What do you want from life?
One way of helping you decide whether you’re better off to change career or stick with the devil you know, is to list what is important to you in life. Ask yourself about things such as family, work life balance, where you want to live, standard of living and material possessions. Some of these elements could be affected adversely by a career change and you may have to make the tough decision about which is more important.
Know your worth
Can you reel your skills and values off the top of your head? When it comes to changing career some of the key things to be fully aware of are your skills, abilities, what you’re passionate about as well as the experience you have gained in previous roles. Think long and hard about these, without selling yourself short. Are these skills transferable in anyway, can they be used as currency in your preferred career? Do you have the personal attributes and drive to succeed in a new career? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are your skills transferable? How the past and present match up to the future will be very important in establishing whether you are suited to a different role and sector.
Fear of change is normal
Jumping ship for unfamiliar territory can be nauseating. No matter how suited to a new career you may be or even unsuited to your current career, it’s quite normal to be nervous about making a big change. If you feel too stressed about trying out a new career or completing the steps along the way that will result in a change of career, consider if these feelings and pressure are worth it. Or, you could choose to do as the saying goes: feel the fear and do it anyway!
Don't give in to peer pressure
Friends and family have a lot to answer for when it comes to people’s career choices – and unsuitable career choices at that. If you’re considering moving into a new career because that’s what your parents expect of you and it’s a career your family have pursued for generations, give great thought to your final decision. It’s important to pursue a career that suits your personality and abilities and that you will be happy in, as opposed to doing the ‘done thing’. Likewise, there can be the pressure to following in your friends’ footsteps and get into a cool, funky or well-paid sector. Before you make the leap and follow the herd, consider how suited you would be to the demands and challenges of such a career.
Money isn't everything
There is always the temptation to move into a career that offers big bucks, but these roles should come with a Government health warning. While many people in extremely well-paid roles are very happy in their jobs, there can be sacrifices such as time and happiness. Well-paid positions are often so because the hours are long and the workload heavy. At the same time, if your dream job is poorly paid you will have to consider the impact of lower wages on your future and if you will be able to live the life you are used to on a much smaller salary. Money isn’t everything, but it matters an awful lot at the same time.
If you’ve been working in the same career for a number of years chances are you’ve moved up the ladder both promotion-wise and salary-wise at a nice steady pace. Oftentimes changing career completely will have an effect on salary and status. You may well have to start at the very bottom rung of the corporate ladder and work your way up slowly to get to the position you dream about. You need the flexibility in your life to accommodate such a career change, as a climb to the top will not only affect finances but also could involve different working hours than you’re currently used to.
A change in career could well involve a drastically different work environment for you. Although you may think you really want to work in a certain job, have you considered the work environment? Examine what the work environment will be like – will it involve much travel, working in isolation, working with lots more people than you’re used to, will it be outdoors or involve different colleagues every day. If you’re thinking of going solo look at the impacts of working from home or on your own.
The age issue
Ageism may be illegal, but that doesn’t mean that it has gone away. On a personal level, take into consideration the time it may take through training and education and moving up the career ladder to be in the career you want. At the same time, remember it’s never too late to change.
Try work experience
Career changes tend to involve the acquisition of new skills. If the area you wish to move to involves a drastic change, training and third-level education may be mandatory to get into the sector. Before you decide to shell out your life savings on college fees and support yourself through a full-time college course that leaves no time for a part-time job, try and get work experience. A few weeks’ or months’ work experience in the line of work you think you’d like to move into will give you a fair idea if you would be interested in actually working in that area. If you find it’s for you, the work experience will be of benefit on your CV when you eventually apply for jobs in that area.
Changes don't happen overnight
Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same goes for changing career. It’s not going to happen immediately just because you want something to happen and have established that a change of career is for you, through thinking about it and planning it in the ways outlined above. It will take time, expect at least six months, longer if you have to undergo specialised training or enrol on the relevant college course.
Changing career can be preceded by a long and rocky road. There may be ups and downs and dead ends along the way. Everybody needs a little help from their friends and this is the time you will need to have a support circle around you. Engage in the support of friends and family as well as the support of relevant membership organisations.
Choose a suitable recruitment agency
As many companies source staff through recruitment agencies it’s important to register with a recruitment agency that recruits for the industry and types of roles you’re interested in. If you feel the recruitment agency you’re dealing with isn’t putting you forward for jobs that your skills, personal attributes, experience and education match, register with an agency that will. Your future career may well lie in the hands of a recruitment consultant so it’s important to find a recruitment consultancy that matches your needs and values your talent.