Six Essential Things To Do Before You Change Careers
Changing career can be scary, filled with doubts, nerves and uncertainty. Insights advises you how to prepare yourself for applying for a position in a new role or career
If the dread of going to work on a Monday morning has extended itself to the rest of your working week, then you are probably considering a change of scenery, direction and a new job. And probably rightly so.
Today, career change is far from unusual and many people change careers several times. Many employers are also more open to considering experienced professionals from different career backgrounds, as their outside perspective and their new ideas and skills can be a distinct competitive advantage.
Before quitting your job and making the big jump to a new pursuit, however, it is wise to take the time and due diligence to ensure you move into the right job and as smoothly as possible. Here are six tips to help you.
1. Why are you currently unhappy?
Look back at why you want to change career in the first place. Do you feel overworked? Does the work you’re doing lack meaning to you and feel soulless? Have you grown tired of the type of people and practices you encounter in your day-to-day work life? Or are you simply bored?
Isolating these key issues can help you work out what you are and are not looking for in your new career. Try summarising all the pros and cons of your current job and think about possible positive and negative scenarios for your career now and for a new employer.
For example, if you have a difficult relationship with your boss, ask yourself if things would be different if you had a different boss. Perhaps there are other organisations where you would be happier?
“Decide what is making you unhappy in your role and reach out to your line manager to ask if there are any progression opportunities that could improve your situation,” said Andrew Fennell, director of CV writing service StandOut CV. “If they really can’t offer you what you want, then maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.”
2. What will you offer in your new career?
Successful career-changers are often able to specifically define what they are good at, and what they can offer their employer in a new career. The key to standing out when changing careers is how well you can communicate your skills, no matter what your background is.
It can be difficult to identify your key skills, but they can include any skill which can be transferable regardless of industry. For example, if you are often the person who leads team meetings and presentations, you are probably a confident and competent communicator. Being known as great with keeping your paperwork in order, probably shows you have good organisation and administrative skills.
Start by making a list of your stand-out skills and experience, and research potential roles that require these abilities – even if it’s only on some small level. You could even ask a friend or colleague as they are likely to have a different perspective.
3. Make your CV and social media career change-appropriate
If your CV is your personal sales brochure, then your LinkedIn profile is probably your TV commercial to promote your personal brand to potential employers. Therefore, both your CV and LinkedIn profile will likely need to be amended to reflect the skills and experience that will be required from new employers.
If you’re a lawyer aiming to become a journalist, for example, you may tailor your CV to reflect your specialist knowledge of the legal field, mention any blogs you may have written on the subject and show off your exemplary grammar and spelling.
It is also a good idea to change your LinkedIn privacy settings and turn off your activity broadcasts. Don’t forget to clean up any embarrassing or offensive photos and comments on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms.
4. Plan your finances
If you are looking to jump into a totally new career, it is likely that you may have to start off in a more junior position, which may mean a drop in your income. Is that something you are prepared to handle?
Many successful career-changers have had to sift through their finances with a tooth comb to ensure they are financially prepared to make the next move. Typically, career-changers will make a record of their current outgoings, income and extra expenses, and work out exactly how much money you need to make over a year.
For people with significant monthly expenses such as a mortgage, or childcare, they typically try to save at least three months of their current salary in advance, to ensure they can transition to their career more effectively.
5. Test The Waters
The best way of finding out whether you like a certain industry or company is to try working there. Work experience is a great way to discover the potential of a new career without totally committing to leaving your current employment and finding a new job.
Your instincts may tell you that your sociable, bubbly and direct personality mean sales is the perfect career for you. Upon experiencing the role, however, you may find that you dislike the constant sales targets and cold-calling.
There are multiple ways you can find work experience. Don’t be afraid to ask any contacts you may have if they know of any opportunities in their organisation. If you are currently working for a large corporation, it may be worth looking for volunteering or work experience opportunities in other departments on the intranet or in your HR department.
Alternatively, potential career changers can write emails and letters directly to organisations they are interested in working for, offering their services for work experience. There are also a growing number of work experience listings websites such as GOTHINKBIG and Prospects.ac.uk.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Whether it’s with a close friend, a trustworthy colleague or a career coach, talking through your career options, uncertainties and doubts with a confidant can be very helpful.
“Find support, either through existing friends and family, coaches and mentors, or by connecting with people in the new fields you are considering who may be happy to help you with their insights and knowledge,” said Sophie Graham, a careers adviser for the National Careers Service.
Try joining social events, seminars and online forums in your ideal new career. Use it as a way of spreading the word that either you’re looking for new opportunities or you have a new venture you’d like to tell people about.
Victoria McLean, founder of City CV, a CV writing and career coaching service, advises: “Join relevant LinkedIn groups, ask questions and meet people for coffee to have informational interviews. Networking is the way forward.”
Want to spruce up your CV ahead of a career change or prepare for an interview? Take a look at CMI’s Career Development Centre for handy tips and advice