So you want to change careers? It’s exciting, and also daunting. Taking control of your future and chasing your goals is an admirable ambition, but it’s not without its challenges.
Here are three steps to take so that you get it right.
1. Making the decision
Ask yourself ‘why?’ Lists are always a good idea. By writing a list of all the reasons to stay in your career, and all the reasons to leave, you’re likely to get a clearer sense of what is best for you. If you can’t stand the commute, the lunch options and your manager, then maybe you’re just with the wrong company. But if you no longer enjoy your day to day work, or you’ve discovered a new passion, then you might be ready for a complete career change.
Talk to your boss If you know you want to make the switch, and you’re ready to resign, it’s worth having a chat to your boss first. There may be pathways to a career change with the same company, or they may have the contacts and networks to help you on your way.
Explore potential careers There are hundreds of professions. And choosing one is no easy feat. If you know exactly what career you want to pursue, congratulations. If you don’t, it’s time for some serious research. Talk to a careers advisor and your friends in other industries, trawl career profiles and even consider some online career quizzes. But most importantly, ask yourself what’s important to you, what you’re good at, and what you’d like to do differently from your current role.
2. Preparing for the career change
Get your skills in order It’s happening. You’re making the change. Now you need to get practical. Consider the skills you need for your new career, and what skills you currently have that are transferable.
If there are any gaps, you may need to upskill. University, TAFE and other education providers can help you get the required qualifications, but make sure you look around carefully and choose a course that aligns with your planned career outcomes. When choosing your course, don’t forget to ask about flexibility, credit for prior learning, and opportunities for placements/work experience.
Consider money matters A career change can have an impact on your finances – at least in the short term. You may need to accept an entry level role to get much-needed experience, or decrease your working hours while you study. So make sure you are covered financially in the interim. If you’re thinking of enrolling at uni, check out the range of scholarships, government loans and financial aid which can help.
3. Launching your new career
Look for people, not for jobs Searching job sites, joining recruitment agencies and updating your CV are all important steps towards landing your new job. But it doesn’t stop there. Networking is a great way to tap into unadvertised opportunities. Go to industry events, rework your LinkedIn profile and talk about your career ambitions with any lecturers/mentors you encounter during your studies. Every connection helps.
Get experience It can be hard to get on-the-job experience in a new career. And you may need to look at part-time work, internships, or even volunteering. But it’s worth it, and best of all, you’ll get the chance to try out your new career direction.
Check your expectations One of the hardest parts of changing careers is the possibility of moving into a more junior role, or taking a pay-cut. But it’s important that you see it for what it is – a beginning, not a forever. Building up experience is vital to long term success, and if you’re passionate and love what you do, it’s unlikely you’ll be on the first rungs of the ladder for long.
Think you’re ready to take the plunge and get qualified for a new career?