How to approach a career change... and secure your next job
How to Change Your Career
Lockdown has given many people the time they might not ordinarily have had to take stock and think about where they are in their lives and whether their careers are making them happy.
The prospect of a career change, particularly in an economy riddled with uncertainty, can be daunting, and switching jobs is never a decision that should be taken lightly. However, despite the temporary disruption and nerve-wracking first few weeks, in the long-term, it could be the most rewarding thing you do.
Before you make such a big decision, you must weigh up the pros and cons, think realistically about the careers you have the skills and experience to do and consider when the right time to make the move might be.
When is the right time for a career change?
There are lots of different reasons why people seek a career change. You might want more money, less stress, or more flexible hours, or perhaps you’ve always dreamed of running your own business or turning a hobby into a career. Whatever the motivation for your career change, there are a few telltale signs that will indicate when the time is right.
1. Your job is impacting your self-esteem
A fulfilling career should provide a boost to your confidence and self-esteem and not make you doubt yourself or the work you do. Enduring a toxic workplace culture or a career you no longer enjoy can grind you down and impact on your long-term physical and mental health. If that’s how you feel, then it’s time to get out now!
2. You’re only in it for the money
Working in a job that you hate but which pays well is not worth the payoff. A career change could give you the chance to land a job that brings you personal and professional satisfaction but still pays the bills. If you get the ‘Sunday night dread’ or have to buy yourself nice things to compensate for the pain of your working life, you need to make your move
3. You’re eternally bored
No one leaps out of bed in a desperate rush to get to work every day. We all have days when we feel de-energised and lack the will and enthusiasm to be at the top of our game. However, if you feel like that all the time, then you have a problem. If every aspect of your job is mind-numbingly dull, you know it’s time to make a change.
The pros and cons of a career change
A recent survey of career changers, carried out by Joblist, found that those who had switched jobs were overwhelmingly happy with their decision. Those who took the plunge expressed a range of positive outcomes, including:
- Happier - 77 per cent
- More satisfied - 75 per cent
- More fulfilled - 69 per cent
- Less stressed - 65 per cent
In fact, 80 per cent of the survey respondents said they wish they had made the change sooner. However, that’s not to say that everyone who changes their careers is happy with their decision. When asked whether they’d make the switch again, 75 per cent said they would, 13 per cent said they were unsure and 12 per cent said no.
These are a few common reasons why people regret making a career change:
- Financial insecurity - Changing industries can lead to a period of unemployment, a requirement to pay for further education or an entry-level salary.
- Trial and error - The day-to-day reality of working in a new industry may not be what you imagine. It can take time to find a job you enjoy.
- Stress - Finding a job in a new industry without any relevant professional experience can prove to be more difficult and stressful than you think.
- Higher stakes - If you’re changing careers to start your own business, the emotional and financial investment required could bring more worries personally and in business.
Choosing the right career for you:
It might feel uncomfortable and uncertain, but taking the time to think about what you really want will save you time, effort and heartache in the long run. When it comes to a career change, the more research you do, the better position you’ll be in to make the right decision. However, it’s important not to get trapped in ‘analysis paralysis’ and letting the weeks, months and years pass you by.
Taking small actions on a daily basis is a great way to get the ball rolling and start narrowing down your options. For example, emailing a contact who works in an industry you’re interested in or finding out about online courses you could take to give you the necessary skills to make the leap are steps in the right direction. Speaking to career advisers at the National Careers Service, talking to professional coaches and mentors and even getting some work experience will help you cross off the possibilities and really start to focus your job search.
Tips for career change success
- Evaluate your current job - Take the time to understand why you aren’t happy in your current job.
- Objectively assess your interests, skills and values - Think about the careers you could be well suited to.
- Research alternative careers - Find out as much as you can about the industries and job roles you are interested in. Linkedin is a great resource for making and reaching out to contacts in areas of interest.
- Arrange work experience - Nothing gives you the same level of insight as doing the job on a day-to-day basis. Identify volunteer opportunities in your chosen field or ask for work experience opportunities.
- Upgrade your skills - Identify educational opportunities that could help to bridge the gap between your existing skills and the new careers you’re interested in. You should also look for ways to develop your skills in your current job before you make the transition.
- Write your career change CV and cover letter - Refocus your CV based on your new goals and write a cover letter that emphasises your transferable skills and expresses your passion for the new company or industry.
Plan for the future
For many people, the biggest challenge they face in their career change is inertia. They want to change, but they don’t want to risk the security they have in their current jobs and are worried about what their family and friends will think. It’s when you start to act and not to think too much that things change and you can start planning for your future.
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