Career Changers are often nervous and apologetic for being uncertain about not knowing exactly they want to do.
What they usually do know and are very certain about is what they don’t want to do.
As Marilyn Ferguson says ” . . It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”
Being in transition is fine, if it’s part of a strategic plan to research and review options. If there is no plan then that’s drifting and dreaming. The possibility of ending up on a career path which is not right, is high. Many career changers expect a “eureka” moment of enlightenment, but mostly the right opportunities come about as a result of a high level of painstaking methodical research and detailed planning towards a specific goal, or even goals. And then making a considered choice. This becomes more confusing when we are all exhorted to reach for our passions. What if our passions don’t pay the bills?
Here are 10 things to consider
- Create a strategy: Recognising that you want to change is easy. Creating a structure to support that change is more challenging, particularly if there are time pressure issues of being in full-time employment. Set up step by step plan, allocating time to cover even small parts of the process.
- Hating your current job: Many career changers claim to hate their current jobs, but care has to be taken to examine what that involves – exactly. Is it the company, the team, the boss or the location that are irksome? Is it boring and if so why? Also examine not just the downsides, but the positive aspects as well.
- Research: this is time-consuming but critical and it is vital to be thorough. Talk to your network, research online or set up informational interviews about new functions, sectors or companies. Make a generous time allocation for this exercise.
- SWOT analysis: Identifying strengths and weakness and having a profound understanding of transferable skills is essential to this process. This requires a high level of introspection and one which many struggle with. Get professional support if that would help.
- Acquiring skills : a direct outcome of this exercise establishes if there is a skill set deficit. Identify what you are missing and establish if the gap can be filled with volunteering, temping, an internship, or even taking a training course before making a decision to resign.
- Strategic positioning: when was the last time you looked for a job? The last 5 years have seen dramatic changes in the job search and recruitment sector. How up to date are you? Bring yourself up to speed.
- Feeling underpaid, under-valued and overworked. Many career changers feel the grass is greener elsewhere and are attracted by high salaries and super benefits. Envy of friends or peers can also be a strong motivator. The saying ” no such thing as a free lunch” very often applies. There is a reason why the office has a taxi policy after 2100, or showers and a gym on the premises. It’s because they are used, usually frequently. Sometimes our friends don’t paint an accurate picture of their own situations.
- To please others: partners, family and friends can be hugely influential in determining career choice. Consider their motives before deciding. Do they want what’s best for you – or themselves?
- Create a new network: as well as tapping into your existing network reach out and make connections in your target sector, company or function. Alumni networks, professional groups, online platforms are all good sources to extend your network.
- Find a mentor: having someone who will support and offer neutral input can be hugely useful to career changers.