08 Feb Think it’s too late to change your career? Read on…
Changing careers is part of the modern working world. Long gone are the days when you’re expected to pick a job straight out of university or college and stick with it for life.
And while some lucky people get it right first time, many others find themselves in a role that no longer suits. If this is you, perhaps it’s because you fell into a job when years ago and feel stuck. Or perhaps you studied a specific subject such as law, and then decided it’s not for you. It can – and does – happen to anyone. But luckily, with some careful planning, it’s possible to successfully change your career whatever your age or experience.
When’s the best time to change your career?
Whether you’re heading into middle age, creeping close to retirement or just know that your current role is not right for you, changing your career is always possible. People do it all the time. It’s just a question of careful planning and plenty of research.
There is no perfect time to make the transition to a different career. The older you are, the more likely it is that you understand your key strengths. But it’s a reasonable step to take even if you’ve only been working for a few years. Life is short, and work takes up much of our time. It should be something that you find fulfilling, interesting and stimulating. And if it isn’t, maybe it’s time you made the change.
However, most of us have dependents, a mortgage and other financial and social commitments. Later in life, you’ll have far more commitments than when you left school or college, whether it’s kids, elderly parents, extended family or simply a mortgage and bills.
While we’re not suggesting you ditch your responsibilities and take a blind leap of faith, it’s important not to let this stop you from planning a career change. It’s about ensuring everything is place before you take the step.
Don’t give in to a kneejerk reaction
If you’ve been unhappy in your current career for a while, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind. Resist the urge to hand your notice in and immediately start something completely new. Slow down and work out why you truly want to change career paths. Are you bored? Do you feel your role isn’t fulfilling your potential? Is it because you feel stuck in a rut?
It’s always a good plan to analyse yourself to find out why you want to change career. If you find yourself keen to better use your strengths, knowledge and expertise or you can see a more interesting and fulfilling career path elsewhere, then you’re on your way.
If you want to relaunch your career after having a child, for example, think carefully about the reasons behind this. Perhaps you feel a different role and career path would mean you make more money or feel better emotionally – or both. Whatever your reasons, you want to make as smooth a change a possible and understand the ups and downs ahead.
5 things to think about before changing career
Talk to your family or friends
If you have dependents make sure you talk to your family or friends. Commitments must be addressed and of course any change you make to your career could very well impact them. Explain clearly why it’s important for you to make a change and why you think your chosen path will bring more growth opportunities.
Ensure your finances are in place
To successfully transition your career, you will either need to start right at the bottom of the rung or work while studying. Training costs money, particularly if you want to gain specific qualifications. Even when you have your certificates, diploma or degree, you may have to effectively begin all over again – at least for a short time.
It’s unlikely that your first role in your new industry or career will bring in the same amount of money you were earning before. So, it’s likely that your income will drop for a period of time, which means you need everything in order as far as possible.
Ideally, we’d suggest saving enough to cover around six to 12 months of living expenses before you make the big change. It will help you relax enough to learn about your new role, sector and career without worrying about the bills.
Be honest with yourself about your strengths
You’re unlikely to have all the time in the world to explore lots of different options. To make the most of the experience you already have, try and choose a role and career sector that uses the strengths you know you have.
This means not jumping into the latest trend or opting for something on the basis that it seems ‘interesting’. Spend some time really thinking about your strengths, and what you can bring to a new role. Which of these are the most marketable for new industries? Use what you already have to ensure you can hit the ground running.
Find out about the new industry
Before you make the leap, talk to people who already work in the sector you have in mind. Use LinkedIn and online networking to find out from people what it’s like working in that sector. Find out what they do day in and day out and think about whether you can see yourself doing the same.
What sort of skillset do you need for the role and does this match your current skills and experience? If not, what kind of training do you need and how can you ensure you achieve the qualifications necessary? Next, look at the potential of the role or sector – is there enough room for you to grow or will you find yourself stuck again in five years?
Organise the training and learning you need
Sign up for online courses, enrol in college or embark on a degree. The amount of studying you need for your new career obviously depends on how close it matches your current experience level. You may find that you need a couple of modules, or it might be necessary to take a full college course.
It can feel frightening to change careers. But if you’re doing it for the right reasons and you take the time to plan it all out, you will be much more fulfilled. Transitioning into a new industry, role or sector could be just what you need to fulfil your potential.