Everyone gets an itch to try something new at least once in their lives. There’s no shame in it. It’s also unsurprising that many of us fall into a career as a result of never saying ‘no’ when an opportunity crosses our paths. It does mean, however, that many of us reach a point where we realize we might not be doing what we love – or, what we set out to do.
It might be that instead of working for a large corporation, you’ve now got the itch to go out and build something of your own. This would not be an uncommon story for new startup owners. If that is the case, start by understanding what your current financial position is and how best to invest in a personal venture.
Before allowing yourself to worry about the what, when, why and how, let us talk you through the essential considerations when faced with that all too common career change itch.
1) Ask yourself why
It’s really important to understand what motivates the change, as this will help you establish whether it’s an impulse move or something worth investing more time and thought into.
Do not respond immediately to this emotion. Think about the areas of your work you’re unhappy or unsatisfied with, and work to understand whether these issues can be addressed and resolved. It may be the case that you’re able to reignite your passion for your work once you have completed a particularly challenging and lengthy project, for example.
Consider keeping a journal of your daily moods at work, to understand if there are any recurring themes. These will be useful in understanding what your pain points are, as well as understanding where your interests sit. Ask yourself whether it’s the content of your work that is the issue – or simply the people you work with.
If your ‘why’ is far greater than simply being unhappy with a particular task, team members and so on, then it might be worth taking this one step further into the career change discovery process.
2) Complete a self-assessment
This is a moment to really understand what your skills are, and equally as important, what your interests are.
Spend some time analyzing your successes in previous roles and how they can be applied to varied industries. Developing transferable skills throughout your career will make this process a slightly easier one.
Also, think about what your core goals are. What do you hope to gain from your work? Consider both the financial and emotional return you hope to gain from your next role. Don’t have a defined set of goals? Get planning. Outlining what you hope to achieve from your career overall will help reign the focus in, identifying the routes available to take in order to reach these defined goals.
Things to think about:
- Salary expectations
- No. of hours you want to work
- Days per week you want to work
- Industries you are interested in
- Level of responsibility you want to have in a role
Consult with friends and family for their thoughts, if you’re unable to define your goals yourself. This is not a decision to be taken lightly, and sometimes the people around us recognize our skills before we do.
Ultimately, choose a career or discipline that you love. This will be the reason you get out of bed every day, even when your project list is stacked and you’re working against a tough deadline. Passion drives us, so do something you’re passionate about.
3) Understand the market
Speak to an expert and do your research.
Get an idea of what roles there are in the discipline you want to explore and scan the job descriptions. This will allow you to understand what skills you need for your desired role. You’ll also be able to get an idea of the salary bands for roles and the level you can reach in certain areas of your chosen discipline.
A career advisor can talk you through the opportunities available to you, and sense checks your skills against your desired career. Consult as many professionals as you feel necessary to understand the steps you need to take in order to transform your career.
An expert may also bring your attention to roles you hadn’t considered, taking your skills and interests in mind. They will be able to point you in the right direction for further research and conversations, which may just land you your next role.
4) Invest in yourself
Never fall for the belief that you know all that there is to know – whether that’s in an industry you’ve been working in for 30 years, or 30 minutes.
You’ll need to think about whether you’re prepared to go into a role at a lower level, and salary, to what you’re used to. If not, you’ll then need to research the types of training you can complete, potentially alongside your current job, to avoid taking a pay cut.
All of this takes time. While you’re in your current job, think about the ways in which you can gain the experience you need with the resources you have around you. Spend time with sister departments and ask to shadow various roles to get a feel for them. The best way you are going to get a true feel for a role and discipline is to connect with people.
5) Allow yourself a trial period
Many people consider a career change as a giant leap, but actually, it’s something that is often much more calculated. Career changes are best taken in calculated steps. Don’t feel you need to dive in headfirst – if we let this analogy play out, everyone needs swimming lessons before diving into the deep end!
Give yourself some time to really understand the discipline you want to follow – and that it is never too late, or too early to decide something isn’t for you.
There have been many stories of people who leave jobs, only to return to them in 6 months’ time. That’s okay. A career decision doesn’t have to be final if you’re unsure.
Allow yourself the time to understand whether the new venture is for you or not. Opting for an internship or a fixed period contract will allow you to get a feel for a job or industry, and give you the chance to draw a line under the experience if you find it’s not for you.
6) Avoid jumping industries
When searching for a job, take the benefits and prospects into consideration. These are often the tipping point of tough decisions. You may find that your company or industry still has a great deal to offer you.
Jumping industries doubles the impact of how difficult the career change is. Consider where your current unhappiness in your role sits. If it’s not specific to the industry, then consider exploring the various roles within it. The benefit of staying in your industry is the overall knowledge you have acquired throughout the years. This will put you in a better position to jump the department.
Having an overall knowledge of an industry acquired over a number of years will set you apart from candidates simply looking for a career change. You will undoubtedly have had the opportunity in your current career to see the impact of other departments in your business on the industry. This will count for a lot when interviewing, and when deciding which role you feel better suited to.
7) Commit to it
‘Taking the leap’ and deciding to make a move in a different direction is a daunting task. We’re not telling you to commit to the job you choose. We are, however, advising you to give everything you have and commit to the search for the job of your dreams. These itches for something new will keep coming back until you address them.
Our lives and careers move quickly, don’t allow too much time to pass before you finally pay attention to how you feel. Seek support in family and friends, talk through your options and ultimately, follow your gut.
You need to commit your full effort into making this change happen for it to happen successfully. The first step to getting what you want is believing that you deserve it. Knowing how to convey that to a skeptical potential employer might seem tricky, but actually, if you know what you’re worth and what you can bring to the role, the negotiation is essentially done for you.
It’s not always easy and it might not feel like it’s working at first. At the beginning of every new job, we’re met with questions as to whether this was the right step for us – this is only further intensified when changing careers altogether. Trust your instincts, but give yourself time. None of this happens overnight and it’s only natural to feel uncertain.
It’s possible to make a career change at any point in your life and at any age when you follow these key steps and thought processes.
It’s not an easy thing to do, which is why so many people leave it longer than they’re comfortable with, or never do it at all.
Be patient with yourself and give yourself the time to really think about what’s best for you.
Don’t let money be the deciding factor, as overall happiness and wellbeing make work something we look forward to getting up to.
Let’s face it, we spend most of our lives at work, it should be something we enjoy.