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Are you thinking of changing careers? Not sure how to go about it?
Don't worry, we can help get you on the right track.
So, make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee), grab a pen and some
paper, or your laptop, and make yourself comfortable. It's time to ask
yourself some key questions, make a plan and take action.
Is it your job you hate or is it your career that's the problem?
There is an important distinction here. You may be struggling or
stressed at work because of a particular
environment/boss/co-worker/workload. It may not be your actual career itself.
You need to separate the career you're in, from your current
workplace. Narrow down what it is in particular that you're struggling
with. Once you know that, you'll know whether you need to just change
workplaces, address an issue in your job, or whether you need to look
around for a new career.
Complain: we all do it. Whether it's having to get up early, the bad
weather, or the annoying habit of a co-worker, there's always one
thing that will annoy you.
What you need to work out, however, is whether the urge to exit is
being driven by a real desire for change, or by a bit of a bad attitude.
Bad attitudes can develop for a number of reasons, and sometimes they
become so ingrained that they are habitual and we don't know we have them.
If you find that you look for faults, focus on negatives and tend to
be overly critical both in life and at work, you may have unwittingly
developed a bad attitude.
It happens. However, adjusting your attitude can help quell your
restlessness at work. When you find yourself being critical or
negative, stop and acknowledge that it's happening, and then try to
find one positive thing in the situation to focus on. The more you
practice this, the more you'll find your attitude gradually shifting.
Don't change your career if it's simply to please someone else, or
because you see someone else's successes and want to emulate them.
Remember, we are all different, what is right for someone else may not
be right for you. You may just end up miserable.
Also, make sure that you don't jump ship because you are drawn to the
flavour-of-the-month industry. Trends pass, but careers stick around.
What is popular today may be far less enticing 15 years down the track.
You should choose a career because you genuinely love it and because
it suits who you are as a person.
If you've gotten through the questions above, and have decided that
you do need to change careers, your next step is to work out what you
now want to do for a living.
Ask yourself the questions listed below. Remember, this is not a
test-it's your life. So take your time with this and really consider
You may start to see some patterns emerge. For instance, if you value
spending time with your dog, you're inspired by someone like Steve
Irwin, and you are happiest when you're helping, then the chances are
you may actually love a career as a vet nurse, not a bank branch manager.
Look for these patterns. Play around with ideas. You may stumble upon
a career path that you never thought of before, but that is actually
perfect for you.
Now you need to have a think about the practicalities. Ask yourself:
These practical questions will help narrow down your job path. For
example, if you already have tons of commitments, getting a full-time
job may not be realistic. You may be better off with part-time work, a
job that lets you work from home, or that allows you to work at
This is an important element in job selection. You spend
a lot of time at work, so where you work and who you work with, are
very important to your mental and physical health.
Consider what type of office environment you want to work in (private
offices, cubicles, open plan, remote work) and what type of team (or
no team at all) you want to work with.
Once you have a ‘wish list' you can narrow your search to companies
and business cultures that meet your requirements.
Are you willing to start at the bottom of the career ladder and work
your way up? If you're starting a brand new career, this may be
something that you have to do.
This is a big one. Make sure you check out the rates of pay for the
industry you are interested in, including entry-, mid- and upper-level
wages. Can you live on these wages with your current expenses and lifestyle?
Also, make sure you look at the future of the industry. Is it a
growth area? A steady job arena? Or is it an area in decline? These
are important considerations when looking at the lifespan of your new career.
Now you know what careers you want to explore, you need
to work out what transferable skills and knowledge you have that would
fit these roles, and where you need to pick up new skills.
Make a list of where you meet the new career requirements and a list
of where you don't.
For your transferable skills, work out a way to translate them into
language that fits your new career.
Where you have skills gaps, work out how you can pick up the new
skills you need. Perhaps you need to do a short course, a long course
or a particular qualification? You will need to investigate these
education requirements, looking at course options, costs and time commitments.
Make a list of all the ‘wants' you have for your new career. Consider:
Use this list to narrow down your job options and set some boundaries
Do some research into companies that you are interested in.
Investigate what they have to offer you. Make sure that they align
with the job wants that you have defined above (location, pay,
culture). You may also want to do a quick Google search to find out
what current and past employees have to say about their experiences
with the company.
Start to bank up some savings. You will need them. A career change
will cost money. You may need to pay for qualifications, professional
associations, travel, networking, new work clothes or equipment. You
may also need to cover lost earnings if you are taking a pay cut by
starting at an entry level position.
After all, you don't want to be worried about missing bill payments
as you are embarking on a new career adventure.
Now you know why and where you're going, it's time to take action.
Have a think about people who could help you reach your job goals. Do
you have any friends or family in the industry that you can talk to?
Are there professional networks and associations you can join? Can you
have a friendly chat with company HR departments about potential positions?
Think far, think wide and mobilise your career squad! The more people
that know you are looking for work, the more chances you'll have at
finding a job.
You will need to update and rework your resume, finding ways to
transfer your skills into a new career setting. Make sure you add in
any relevant study, professional associations, or volunteer work you
Work out a two-line pitch to sell yourself with, both at the top of
your updated resume and in job interviews.
Your pitch should briefly weave in your job background but focus on
skills and strengths and how your experience makes you a perfect fit
for the role.
For example: ‘I am a web designer who takes pride in creating
user-friendly experiences and clean, branded pages. Having a
background as an art teacher, I am able to bring creative flair and an
extensive knowledge of design history to my work, giving it an extra edge.'
A great way to get some experience under your belt and work out if
the job is for you, is to volunteer or intern a day a week. You may
need to cut back on your paid work or other activities, but it's worth it.
Volunteering or interning will get you work experience, networking
opportunities, an insider's view of the industry (before you make the
full career leap), and may even land you a permanent role in the company.
You can find volunteer or intern positions by calling up companies
that you are interested in and offering up your time, or by hopping on
to job sites like Seek and Indeed and looking through the volunteer
and internship sections on the sites.
Ultimately, when considering a career move you need to be sure that
the grass really is greener on the other side.
Spend the time and do your research to make sure that the job you're
moving into is really going to make you happy, that it will provide
enough money to live on, and will give you a healthy work/life balance.
By taking the time to properly research and plan your career leap,
you may save yourself from moving into a job that will wind up making
Have fun with it, open yourself up to possibilities and move forward
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a way to boost your skills, or to
fill a qualification gap, check-out the TAFE NSW courses that
will give your career the edge here.