How to change careers

If you feel like you’re stuck in a dead end job with little satisfaction and no scope for promotion, then maybe it’s time for a career change. It can be easy to get comfortable with a consistent pay check, but job satisfaction and happiness is just as important.

The problem for most people is that a career change seems like a lot of hassle. “Who would hire me with no experience?” “How will I get the training I need?” “Do I need another qualification?”

Different careers require different challenges, and not every career move is easy or even possible. A lot depends on the role and the individual’s personal circumstances – but where there’s a will there’s a way!

If you are giving a career change serious consideration, here’s how you could do it:

Figure out what floats your boat 

The first thing you need to do is work out where your passions lie. If you are not enjoying your current job, what is it that will make you spring out of bed in a morning?

“Knowing what you really want will save time, effort, and heartache in the long run,” suggests Lis McGuire, founder of CV writing service Giraffe CVs.

It would be a big mistake to leave your job before you make plans. There is a lot to consider before you hand your notice in, and the first question you need to ask yourself is – what do I actually want to do? If you don’t have a specific career in mind, you could start by considering your options.

You could begin by generalising your interests to get the ball rolling. Here are a few examples of different types of jobs to help:

  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Management
  • IT
  • Manual
  • Work from home
  • Self employed
  • Teacher/Lecturer
  • Carer

You don’t have to worry about finding an exact job title to begin with, and instead start to focus upon the types of roles which motivate you. If you’re stuck behind a desk but prefer to be more active, you now know that you can rule out another desk job. Alongside that you’ve always liked the idea of a sales role and the challenge of making your own commission and meeting or exceeding targets.

“Questions you need to answer are, what skills and talents do I want to utilise? What business outcomes do I want to support? What type of people, environments and cultures do I thrive best with/in? Which values, standards of integrity and needs must be supported through this work? What types of challenges do I want to face in my work? What financial compensation and benefits are non-negotiable for me?”

~ Kathy Caprino, Senior Contributor for Forbes

One of the main issues with considering a career change is finding what’s out there. Once you’ve narrowed things down a little you can then begin to search for a more specific role.

Be realistic – do some research 

Researching career path

Are your career goals realistic? Making a career change is a very important decision, and if your dream is wildly unrealistic, you could be left up a river without a paddle. Consider all your options and look into what you would need to be able to change careers. Is there a specific qualification or a set of skills? Is experience a mandatory requirement? How many people succeed in this industry?

We’d all like to make millions from home dabbling in the stock market online, but is that a feasible option for you? We are not saying you shouldn’t chase your dreams – far from it! But you need to take a realistic approach and research your desired field before you commit.

““Know what you’ve got, what you want and why you want it, and you’ll quickly be able to identify potential employers and companies that’ll deliver on your next career goals,” suggests Lydia Fairman, an HR specialist and owner of Fairman Consulting.

If it would take years to slowly climb your way to the top, are you willing to put the effort in? If a specific qualification is required, are you happy to take night classes or an online course over the weekend?

One of the best ways to decide if it’s realistic is to speak to someone in the industry. Ask them how they got there and find out about their journey. This will give you a much better perspective on what it will take.

Focus upon your strengths 

A common approach to take when considering a career change is to focus upon what you can’t do, but it’s what you can that’s important. Lacking in experience does not mean to say you don’t stand a chance. Every employer will respect what you’ve achieved so far, your current skill set, and more importantly the soft skills you have to bring to the table.

If you want to know more information on what a soft skill is and which are important to an employer, read our article ‘The 6 soft skills an employer wants to see on your CV‘.

Your proven track record could be more than enough to demonstrate that you are a very capable individual in the workplace. There isn’t always a qualification to learn how to communicate, work well in a team, organise effectively, and so on. When writing your CV for a new career you should look to draw out your soft skills and highlight how they are transferable.

Show the employer what you have to offer rather than what you don’t. Write a positive CV that highlights all your strengths and demonstrates to the employer how they would benefit the company.

“Make sure your CV and covering letter show [your] skills which match the role, even if your background is unconventional,” suggests John Lees, a careers expert and the author of Knockout Interview.

Evelyn Cotter, founder of career coaching company SEVEN, goes on to say: “Pull apart the job spec and highlight the keywords, competencies, traits, skills and language being used, then pull apart your experience and achievements and match them up.”

Make sure it’s the right decision 

Should you change careers?

Before you do a u-turn on your career you should make sure you’re 100% confident it’s what you want. Are you really unhappy with your current career, or are there other factors to consider. Try to narrow down the issues you’re experiencing as it may be possible they could be solved.

Are you working too many hours and it’s affecting your work-life balance? Are you unhappy with your pay? Is a colleague at work making things difficult for you? These types of issues will cause you to be unhappy, but it may not mean a career change is the right decision.

“Think about whether it really is your career that you want to change. Be very specific about what you do and don’t like about your current work – it may be your role, your boss, the working environment or your terms and conditions,” recommends Yorkshire Career, Life and Leadership Coach Melanie Allen. “Make sure you explore all your options and don’t rush the process.”

Before you consider anything drastic why not speak with your manager and discuss your problems? Let your boss or a sympathetic senior colleague know how you’re feeling and what the cause of this is. You could walk away from the meeting with a completely different view on your current situation, and a few simple tweaks could bring back that all important job satisfaction.

Another solution could be to consider changing company but sticking with the same career. Maybe you enjoy the tasks but feel that the company you work for doesn’t quite get it right. Changing careers is hard work and will take a lot of time and effort. You don’t want to end up in the same position as before, and wonder why you decided to take such a drastic change in the first place.

Need a little more inspiration? Here are 5 people who made drastic career changes and never looked back!

About Martin Carline

Martin has been a senior manager of a large customer service team within the education services industry, dealing with all aspects of staff recruitment and management. He now authors and manages content for CV Template Master and a number of other leading websites. In his spare time, Martin is an accomplished pianist and teaches all styles with a particular focus on boogie woogie and blues.

1 thought on “How to change careers”

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