How to Make a Successful Career Change
Making a career change is a brave leap of faith that many people are not comfortable taking. Although it is scary, changing careers can open up opportunities that you never knew existed, not to mention the numerous benefits that come from taking on a new role.
Showing your versatility or pursuing your dream role may seem daunting but the growth and skills you can gain by making yourself momentarily uncomfortable will ultimately lead to positive change. As clichéd as it sounds, the saying ‘whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth’ is completely accurate.
Below we’re breaking down where you should consider starting when you’re contemplating significant change and a few things you can and should think about – before, while and after you make the change.
Before making a career change, it is important to take stock of where you are in your current career. Doing this is as simple as looking at your current career and seeing what you like and do not like about it. Once you have this down, you need to decide if making a career change will make things better for you and offer some kind of progression.
Some of the things to consider include personal growth, better salary and improved personal and career satisfaction that could result from a new career.
Taking stock of your current situation also means understanding if you may be being steered by temporary emotions to make permanent change or if your feeling towards your career change is really driven from within. Contemplate, why do I want to make this change? What will I benefit from this change? What will potentially change for me personally.
Is your new career option pushing you into a new location? If so, it’s worth looking at the broader picture. Consider living costs, bills, whether you will need to commute and how this will also impact your life.
Reviewing the roles that you have held in the past, plus any volunteer positions and projects you have completed, will help you identify what you are happy doing. Try to find areas where your core skills, values and competencies could be better applied and gravitate towards career opportunities that will take advantage of what you have to offer.
Let us not forget your soft and transferable skills, skills that most career advisors believe are more important than technical skills. If you are assessing yourself this is a good time to actually make mental notes for future interviews. Allegedly interviews love it when you can show real life examples of where and how you have applied your skills. If you are a good leader, think of situations where you helped steer your team and improved communication in your previous positions.
Literally take stock. Figures are often the best way to show success depending on your industry. If you can show in statistics what you have done in your previous and current roles, this is incredibly appealing and provides solid facts on how you have succeeded.
If you have selected a new career path in a completely different sector or industry, think about how your current skills apply and what gaps there may be in your skill set when assessing yourself. Identifying those gaps allows you to preplan. Are there any books or free online courses you could use in your free time to gather more information? As a result of learning more about your new sector, you will gain a better idea of what to expect and hopefully you will solidify your career choice making it seem less daunting.
Venturing into the Unknown
To make a drastic career change, you need to let go of what you know and venture into the unknown. This often means you need to leave your circle of friends and colleagues as they may be forming a safety cocoon around you that does not allow you to expand and explore new areas and opportunities fully. Now we’re not saying to completely leave your entire friends’ group behind. We’re saying make some new choices and some changes in who you socialise with.
When doing this, it is important to surround yourself with the people you will likely interact with in your new career. These are the people who represent your desired future and not the past you are looking to leave behind.
Doing this is hard, so it is important to get the right advice so that you are looking into the future rather than longing for the past. One platform to use for advice is Refreshing a Career, which gives you the help and advice you need when changing your career and helps you find somewhere to start to reach your new career goals. They will support you through your career change, and help you fulfil your potential by transferring and making use of your skills in new areas and ways.
Bridge Your Old Career to Your New One
Making a transition to a career that is not in any way aligned with your current one might not work as expected. It is therefore important that you choose careers that are somewhat aligned with the one you already have. Considering a change to a career in the same industry is always an option, as is contacting professionals in the new fields you are interested in for suggestions on how to make a smooth transition.
Making a career change is a daunting prospect for a lot of people because it entails leaving what you know behind and wading into the unknown. It will pay tremendously to understand what you are good at, what skills you can bring to your new career, which careers you want to pivot to, and get guidance and advice while you make the transition.
We hope that the advice above about looking within and making changes will help you make the right decision for you and your career path. A career change may be daunting, but so is staying in a sector where you feel no passion or commitment.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
Develop the skills you need to get that job.
This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.
About the Author
Zoe has written and researched articles for a wide variety of career websites, blogs and magazines and has a strong understanding of current business trends and a passion for entrepreneurism!