Taken the wrong career path and now want to change? It’s never too late to switch career – all you need is the confidence to take the leap.
Here are just a few tips for ensuring that a career change is right for, as well as advice on how to break into your new line of work.
Why change career?
If your current career path doesn’t make you happy, that’s a good enough reason to change career. We spend most of our adult lives at work – if you don’t enjoy your career, that’s a large part of your life that you’re spending feeling miserable.
It’s important that it’s definitely the career and not the individual job that you dislike.
If it’s your boss or your colleagues that are making you unhappy and not the work duties themselves, that’s a sign that you may just need to switch job.
There are lots of things that cause you to be unhappy with a career.
It could be the fact that the work isn’t rewarding. It could be that you feel it’s too physically or mentally challenging and you constantly feel out of your depth.
It could be that it makes you bored and you feel your talents are wasted. It could be that the hours are unsociable and not suitable for your lifestyle.
It could even a case that the career is damaging your health.
Low pay can be another common reason to switch career, but it may not be enough itself to warrant a complete career change – if you love your job but aren’t get paid enough for it, you need to weigh up whether it’s worth the risk of moving to a career that pays more but could make you unhappy.
It’s likely there’s a position within your career field that’s more well-paid, whether it’s a managerial position or a specialist position.
Consider whether it would be a better idea seeking out a high-paying job within your field rather than switching career entirely.
Find your calling
If you’re certain that your current career is not right for you, you need to then decide which career to move to.
Some people may have already chosen the dream career that they want to switch to. Others may not have a clue – perhaps your current career was originally your dream career, but you had a change of heart once you got involved, or perhaps you’ve never had a clear idea as to what your ideal career is.
For those that don’t have a dream career in mind, there are lots of things you can do to find your calling.
Firstly, you should consider your strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re good at managing money and arithmetic but not good at keeping to routine, you could consider financial advisor roles where you get to do more creative problem solving as well as investment broker roles.
If you enjoy practical work but can’t do anything too physically demanding, you could consider repair and technician jobs rather than labourer jobs.
You should also consider things that interest you and things that you enjoy.
We tend to be good at the things we enjoy, but there could also be things that we simply have a keen interest in.
For example, you may love food but may not be able to cook, in which case you can still work as a restaurant manager or work for a food marketing agency or even work as a food critic.
It’s worth taking a personality test if you’re not sure what your innate strengths are – the Myers Brigg Type Indicator is the most credible and dictates that everyone is one of 16 personality types (to varying level), each personality having its own strengths and weaknesses.
You can also try talking to a career advisor who can help to recommend careers based on your experience and preferences.
There’s lots of free career advice out there, however it’s also possible to pay professionals for more detailed career advice.
Taking on a new career could mean having to learn new skills or gain new qualifications. If you’ve already got a job and commitments to pay for such a home or family, you may not be able to simply stop working so that you can get extra education – this means you’ll have to find a way to educate yourself whilst still working.
Online courses are ideal for obtaining yourself qualifications whilst being able to study around a full-time job. Almost all qualifications can now be obtained on the web – aspiring teachers can take a masters in teaching online whilst aspiring nurses can even take nursing degrees online.
For other jobs, certain licenses may need to be obtained. For example, you need to driving license to perform many jobs nowadays from realtor work to paramedic work. An electrical license meanwhile is required to work as an electrician.
In other cases, you may simply need to learn skills such as coding or technical drawing. Qualifications may not be needed; however it could help to have them as proof that you possess these skills up to a competent level.
Other ways to give proof of your skills include owning a blog, being part of a club or offering testimonials/references from other people.
Take advantage of transferable skills
Whilst you may be looking to break into a completely different career, there may still be some transferable skills that you can put on your application or talk about in your interview.
These transferable skills can help to strengthen your cause when changing career by showing that despite your background, you’re not completely the wrong fit.
Consider soft skills such as teamwork skills, leadership, creativity, punctuality and communication – these are often essential to all lines of work.
Don’t just list them off, but instead give evidence of times when you’ve demonstrated each of these skills.
Also try to consider skills that you may have obtained through life experience. If you’re a parent you may be able to use this to prove that you can be responsible for other, that you can multi-task and that you can be patient.
If you’re part of a sports club or a hobbyist club, you could use this to show social skills and teamwork skills.
Allocate time to focus on achieving your future career
It can be difficult to find the time to gain new qualifications and hunt for vacancies when your current job may take up a lot of your time already.
Try to allocate time that you can spend working towards your new career.
You may be able to spend some of your evenings studying or applying for jobs, or you could find time on your days off. It may even be worth taking a week off to focus on jobhunting – it may feel as if you’re wasting your holiday, but it could be worthwhile if there’s a better job at the end of it.
Another option could be to start saving up money and then quit your job, allowing you some savings to live off whilst you chase your new career, whilst being able to leave the stress of your current job behind you. You could even take out a loan to live off temporarily (although this isn’t advised).
Consider volunteering/work shadowing
You may also want to consider getting some unpaid experience in your new career field. This is usually quite easy to obtain – most employers will be happy to let you work shadow for a week. This voluntary experience could have all manner of advantages when looking to change career.
Firstly, it could allow you to test the water and determine whether this really is the career field for you. If you decide you don’t like the work, you can then avoid this career option and save yourself from what could have been another unhappy career.
Meanwhile, if you do like the experience, it could prove a valuable learning experience. Not only that, it could give you something to put on your application to help improve your chances of chasing a full-time paid role.
Voluntary experience could even lead onto the opportunity of a paid role if you get on with everyone well and prove yourself to be hardworking and competent.