“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
A friend of mine told me the other day that after twenty years as a teacher she was ready for a career change but didn’t think she had any transferable skills. After I had corrected her, listing some of a teacher’s impressive skill set – public speaking, crisis management, budget management, communications skills, patience, change management, negotiation skills etc etc, I realised that perhaps many people thinking of changing careers were equally unable to see their own worth.
According to research by the London School of Business and Finance, 47% of the UK’s workforce want to switch careers, with around a quarter saying they regret entering their current profession. In the same piece of research, 23% of participants revealed they regret their current choice of career.
Although that is a large number wanting to switch, many won’t do so because of factors such as the loss of financial security (29%), uncertainty about what to switch to (20%) and a fear of failure (15%). All valid fears when facing such a big life change.
How to Change
So what is the best way to go about changing careers? Ask yourself these questions before taking another step:
1. Is the problem with your career or just your job?
When you’re feeling frustrated and unhappy at work, it is easy to want to wipe the slate clean and start again. But, if you step back and analyse what exactly is making you unhappy, it may be just a difficult boss or a challenging work culture and changing companies may solve the problem.
2. Are you prepared to retrain or start from the bottom again and can you afford either?
Both options could stretch you financially but retraining can be achieved on a part time basis alongside your current job which could reduce the need to take a sudden financial hit. Either way, a financial cushion to ease you through the first stages of a career change is essential.
3. Will you regret it if you don’t?
The million dollar question but worth taking it through to its conclusion. How will you feel in ten years’ time if you stay where you are?
4. What are your existing skills and capabilities?
Just like the example of the teacher, don’t underestimate the skills you have acquired on the job as well as those you have studied and qualified for.
5. What are you interested in?
This is the most obvious of questions and often how thoughts of a career change start, but it is also worth considering your preferred working environment. Do you prefer working alone, outside, in a globally dispersed team or an open collaborative system? Finding a career that reflects your preferences is going to make it easier to enjoy a happy work life.
6. Are you prepared to be flexible and not give up too soon?
You may need to adjust and adapt your plans as you go along and be open to different opportunities as they come up. Be prepared to play the long game and not expect results too soon.
7. Have you talked it through with others from family to career experts?
Talking through your plans with anyone and everyone (within reason!) can open up possibilities and options you had never considered. Professional career advisors and coaches are invaluable in helping you see the bigger picture and can help focus the mind on what it is you really want to do.
If you have seriously considered all of these points and still feel a career change is the right thing for you then there should be nothing to hold you back even in these uncertain and tough economic times. Make sure your CV and any cover letters explain your decision to change careers and be prepared to justify your commitment to any prospective employer. Keep focussed, be courageous and have confidence in your abilities and then the world is your oyster and that perfect career pearl is just waiting to be discovered.
At Chapple we specialize in sourcing candidates in external and internal communications, employee engagement, change and business transformation roles.
Contact us on 020 7734 8209 for more information about how we can help you find your next role or indeed find the right people for your business.