The past year has pushed many of us to consider drastic life overhauls – especially when it comes to our working lives.
Whether it’s down to your workplace forcing you to return to the office, realising that your job is ‘non-essential’, or just the simple pandemic-prompted crisis of questioning what on earth you’re doing with your life, you might be pondering quitting your current role and trying something brand new.
What do you need to know before you take the plunge? How can you feel confident diving headfirst out of your comfort zone? We spoke with the experts to find out what every career-changer needs to consider.
Take your time
We know, you’re feeling the itch to quit right this moment and get a move on in another direction. But don’t let this rush you.
‘The important thing is to plan your career transition,’ says Kimberly Payne, the HR director at Switchback Travel. ‘It is not going to happen overnight.
‘It is key not to rush into things if you want your career jump to work. Yes, this is about taking a risk, but you need to negate any fallout by having a strategy in place that covers exactly how you will manage your transition – from managing finances to gaining the right expertise and beyond.’
Ask yourself some tough questions
You need to make sure the decision to change careers is made for the right reasons – not fear, or panic, or a lull.
What is it about your current role that you don’t like? What will a different role give you that this one can’t? Do you have realistic expectations? Are you falling into any patterns that are making your working life miserable?
These are all questions you need to seriously ponder.
Kimberly recommends: ‘Ask yourself why you feel the need for a change, and more importantly what you could see yourself being passionate about.’
Think about transferable skills
It can sometimes feel like trying something new is an impossible task. After all, you’ve spent so long working at this thing, and now you’re good at it. Won’t you be absolutely awful at anything you don’t have loads of experience in?
While it definitely won’t hurt to develop new skills for your new career path, it’s also worth having a think about how the abilities you currently have can work for a different role, too.
Charlotte Davies, a career expert at LinkedIn, recommends including these skills on your CV and making sure to mention them in any interviews.
‘Transferable skills are an attribute we see companies increasingly focussing on, which bodes well for employees,’ Charlotte tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Our research found that 35% of professionals are looking to enter a new field of employment in the future, so showing how you can be adaptable could lead to career progression in a completely new industry.
‘Making sure you include these skills in your LinkedIn bio or CV is key as it gives employers an insight into the new skills you could bring to their business.
‘Candidates who complete LinkedIn Skill Assessments and display a badge on their profile are up to 20% more likely to get hired than those who don’t.’
Figure out what you want
…and if a new role will tick those desires off.
‘Many people who make the jump sidestep into a very similar position and hope that things this time will be different,’ Kimberly says.
‘If you don’t have an idea of what you want to step into, write down your strengths and weaknesses, and see if that align with positions that interest you. People who work to their strengths tend to be happier employees.
‘Also, ask yourself what you dream job is – even if it is unobtainable at this current time, knowing what roles and areas you truly care about is vital in understanding what skills you need to develop.’
Give your application bits a refresh
When’s the last time you actually changed up your CV?
If you’re pondering an overhaul, now’s the time to do it. Rather than just making the usual tiny tweaks, you might want to do an entirely new version of your resumé for a new field.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is in top shape, too.
‘Keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date and including a profile picture is an easy way to increase your exposure to employers,’ says Charlotte.
Be prepared for a paycut
Those starting over in a brand new industry need to be prepared to start from the bottom all over again. You might need to adjust your lifestyle to fit a lower salary.
But don’t let this put you off.
‘Yes, it’s very unlikely that you’ll go straight into a senior position of power and responsibility when venturing into a new work world, but there are several things to be positive about,’ says Kimberly. ‘First off, you are entering a world that you genuinely want to be part of and working your way up can provide experience and training that is vital to gaining the position of your dreams.
‘It is likely that you will take a cut in pay, but it is vital that you see the bigger picture.
‘Budget wisely and living within your new means will become second nature quicker than you think.
‘Divide your income into sections; social, household, bills etc. This will serve as visual representation of your income so that you can see exactly what is going where and when.’
Don’t underestimate your worth
You’re not a total beginner, remember. Don’t dismiss all the experience you’ve built up as useless or a waste of time.
Kimberly says: ‘Your experience, knowledge and understanding of work environments won’t always be overlooked, and many new employers will see them as tools to help you with your new position.
‘You may be new to the role, or inexperienced in certain areas, but your knowledge from other fields of work will be invaluable when coming to terms with similar, but technically unknown, areas of your new role.
‘There are also many careers where a more varied background, with lots of experience is seen as an asset, as opposed to a hindrance.’
Be prepared for virtual interviews
Yep, these are very much still a thing, and will likely continue throughout the year.
If it’s been a while since you’ve interviewed for a new job, make sure you’re totally prepared and feeling confident.
‘When speaking with an employer try and dress your backdrop to reflect yourself – it’s an easy way to convey your interests and personality without deviating from the conversation,’ suggests Charlotte.
You’ll also need to be prepared to answer the big question: ‘why do you want to leave your job and do something entirely different?’
‘You obviously want to avoid looking like you are going form role to role and never settling down, but if employers can understand the reasons why you have changed career, they will see it as a positive,’ Kimberly says.
Side hustle your way in
Making a change doesn’t need to feel like a sudden stop and restart. You can ease your way in, see how something different feels, and take more gradual steps.
Kimberly tells us: ‘For many people, taking the leap into a brand-new career would be impractical without first dipping a toe into the water.’
Try out areas of interest to see if they’re as glorious as you’re imagining, fitting this in around your current position (which will act as a safety net if you realise you were totally wrong).
See what you like and dislike, and build up experience and contacts at the same time.
‘Starting a side hustle doesn’t just mean opening an online shop and devoting time to it on your days off – it means developing yourself in that area in any way possible, from volunteering to part-time internships,’ Kimberly continues.
‘More than ever, people are working a steady job, while maintaining a side hustle to either earn a bit extra on the side or follow on a venture that they sincerely love.
‘Use this time to grow your experience and knowledge, dedicating yourself to certain qualities that you know are vital to the position.’
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