Written by: Cally Worden
They say that acknowledging a desire for change is the first and biggest step towards achieving it. Well that’s great, but where on earth do your start when you’ve decided you want to change your career? This is not generally something you can do overnight. You need a plan. And patience. And tenacity. And a lot of guts. I know, because I’ve done it. It’s perfectly possible, but it’s damned hard work. But I promise you if you do it right you’ll never look back. Still set on giving it a go? Good for you. Read on for our top tips on how to make your journey a success.
Hold your Horses
Before you do anything else ask yourself this key question – is it your Job you don’t like or your career? There is a big difference. You may already know this but if you’re unsure at all it may first be worth changing jobs within your current career. If you remain unhappy after this, then it’s likely that it really is your career that’s the problem. Let the change begin.
Indulge in a Self-Assessment Exercise
Before I changed careers I had a clear idea about what I wanted to do instead. So I embarked on training to help me achieve my goal, part-time in the evenings. And after a year I realised that while my desired career was of interest, I couldn’t see myself doing it full-time. A lucky escape. What I hadn’t done at that point was to give careful consideration to my values, they way I like to work and what I could enjoy doing even if the pay was very low. It is these things that will help you identify a career that you are truly passionate about. Now I write for a living and live on a pittance where previously I enjoyed a hefty corporate salary. And I don’t care, because I’m happy. My self-assessment helped me recognise that this career would give me that.
Be Honest about your Skill Base
Self-assessment is essential in understanding the direction you need to take. But a second, equally vital phase is to be honest with yourself about what the job market will enable you to achieve. I was fortunate that I’d followed my instincts in my early years and took a degree in Media and Journalism. This was a massive help 20 years later when embarking on my change of career. If you don’t have the skills you need for your desired new career then you will likely fail in your efforts to achieve it. Do your homework in respect of any training, qualifications and experience you need in order to secure the role you want. And be prepared to work to get them.
Look beyond the Obvious
Leave aside exam certificates and a CV of experience as long as your arm for a moment. These may help you into your new career, but you are a sum of ALL your parts and there are many other aspects of you that can boost your chances in the job market. So many valuable assets can’t be articulated or labelled on paper. Good communications skills and the ability to build rapport will help you into any role that is people-facing, for example. My love of the outdoors and passion for camping, secured me one of my earliest writing gigs with an organisation I still write for today. Neglect nothing of your life experience – examine each element that makes you the person you are and ask yourself how it may help you achieve your dream career.
Plan it Out
Life is as much about practicalities as it is about dreams sadly. But even here you can take control. Career change won’t happen overnight unless you are multi-talented and multi-skilled and can slip smoothly from success in one role to another. So you have time to plan your financial route to success and the chance to build your new career while retaining the comfort of your current salary, training can be done in the evenings and at weekends. Likewise research and networking. You will lose much of your free time while you are in the transition stages, but the trade off will be worth it later. It really all comes down to how much you want this change.
Be Prepared to Fail
Failure is a part of success. Blah-de-blah-de-blah. But it’s true. Rejection is inevitable. Even now, after four years, I regularly receive ‘No thanks’ communications from speculative writing enquires I send out. It doesn’t mean I’m rubbish at my job, it’s simply the nature of this type of work. Enough people do say ‘Yes!’ to keep food on the table, so I’m doing something right. It’s hard to take the knocks, especially when you are starting out, but it’s how we learn, and having faith in yourself and your abilities is the only way to move forward.
You WILL get there if you’ve planned your career move well. Believe it. And believe in yourself. Now it’s time to take that first tentative step on your career-change journey. Enjoy it, because wherever you end up and however long it takes you, the very fact you’ve tried will boost your confidence and self-esteem no end.