How to Approach a Career Change

It’s not uncommon for people to change their careers multiple times during their working life.

Whether you’re looking for more out of your work, developing a new passion or simply want to earn more in a different field, a career change can help you feel more empowered and happy. It’s important at this stage of your life to take a strategic approach and not jump in without thinking.

In this article, we explore how to approach a career change, why you might change careers and how you can go about planning for it.

Why Do People Choose a Career Change?

There are a variety of reasons for someone wanting to change their career, with many people feeling several at once.

The unprecedented times we’re living in have pulled job satisfaction into sharp focus and since the height of the pandemic, a fifth (22%) of UK workers have realised that their current job role isn’t what they want.

Similarly, over the last 20 years, the number of people looking to change their career path has stayed around 9%, showing that it’s an ongoing consideration for many employees in the UK workforce.

So what causes these feelings?

The most common reasons for choosing a career change include:

  • A stressful work environment
  • Potential for higher salaries
  • More opportunities for career advancement
  • Better job satisfaction
  • More flexibility in terms of remote working
  • Increased appreciation

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How to Approach a Career Change

If you’re thinking about changing your career and you’re not sure how to go about it, these are the following steps that you can take:

1. Consider your current career path

Having a personal ‘inventory’ of your current career, the feelings you have about the career and your job satisfaction is a great place to start. Start by asking yourself a series of questions that allow you to determine what you’re looking for. Some examples might be:

• What do I like about my current role?

• What don’t I like about my current role?

• What kind of industry do I want to work in?

• What do I want? More money? International travel? My own business?

• Do I know anyone that had a career change that might help?

• Are there courses I can enrol in that might give me a taste of a new career?

After that, explore the various skills and qualifications you have and write them down as a list. What certifications do you have? Do you have a hobby like photography that you’d want to turn into a new role?

By understanding what you’re capable of, you’re in a better position to understand potential new career paths.

Finally, think about the times in your past when you were successful or most fulfilled. What led to these situations and what about these situations gave you a positive response?

2. Consider different industries

One of the main questions you’ll likely ask yourself during this initial stage is should I change industries? While we understand this is difficult to answer, it’s a vital consideration that may impact you going forward.

Remember, you don’t need to know exactly where your next industry might be. Just think about your current industry and whether you really want to stay in it or look for a complete shift elsewhere.

This is often the first obstacle for many people. You may find yourself thinking about new roles but still in the same field. It’s important to explore even further than that and open yourself up to new opportunities entirely.

Consider this: If you previously worked in customer services or complaints handling for a retail business, you may consider a role in property sales. While these use different technical skill sets and knowledge, the same transferable skills apply; empathy, organisation and verbal communication are all ideal skills for a salesperson.

3. Identify different careers

At this point, you can start to marry up your ideal industries with your personal inventory to find a potential career path. While you might not know every role or position within a specific career, your understanding of your own skills can help you narrow down the search.

You may also consider working with a career counsellor, other job seekers or people you know to discover more about how your skill set fits different careers. Our recruitment consultancy services are ideal in this situation and can help you discover potential career paths that match your qualifications and working history.

4. Research specific roles

Once you’ve narrowed down your industry and career path, you can start exploring the various positions within that career. As we’ve already mentioned, many different career paths have a variety of different specialisations and potential roles within them, meaning there’s always an opportunity to find something specific to your skills.

During this time, you may consider networking as a way of building your network of contacts. In many cases, having useful contacts across the industry is a great way of finding and developing new career opportunities. Consider specific networking events that allow you to meet people from a variety of backgrounds and working sectors.

5. Develop your career change plan

Once you’ve identified a potential route, you can start considering how to get there. A career change plan is a list of steps that support you in achieving a new role. Consider things such as skills, qualifications and experience in various new career paths.

One way to go about this is to attend courses in your chosen career path. This gives you a taste of what to expect without meaning you have to commit to that specific industry or role. If you prefer having deadlines to work towards, set milestones at this point. For example, you may want to earn a set of specific certifications within a number of months, as this allows you to work towards an interview in a year.

6. Review documentation and ‘branding’

Before you consider applying for roles in a completely different career, you may want to ‘rebrand’ yourself. The CV for a graphic designer may be very different to an accountant, for example. If you simply send your current documents to a new employer in a different field, without first addressing the career change, it may seem odd.

Where possible, demonstrate how your qualifications and skill set contribute to your potential in a new role. Use examples of previous experiences to provide context and use this to create an engaging personal statement.

7. Leverage your network

Whether you’re meeting with contacts or scrolling through social media, your network of contacts can lead to inspiration or even tangible opportunities. Always check up on your timeline to see if new chances for work are available and if possible, seek out volunteer positions or internships that can help you build experience.

8. Measure your progress

Switching your career can be a long and difficult process. It’s important to act and stay motivated. While you don’t want to rush into a decision, you also don’t want to get too comfortable in your current position.

Where possible, make incremental decisions that allow you to test the waters while still making forward progress. You may freelance in a position while you stay in full-time work and see how you enjoy it.

With this approach, you’re not paralysed by indecision but also trying out new opportunities. As you progress through the process, take notes and consider how you feel at each step. This helps you maintain a personal inventory and drive positive change.

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