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Identifying Realistic Options for a Career Change

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Sep 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
Career Change Career Transition Choosing

Long gone are the days when we all had a career for life and nowadays we’ll all change jobs, and sometimes even careers, several times throughout our working lives. Sometimes these changes will be foisted upon us by events like redundancy and we might also decide that we wish to move on and try something completely different. The important thing when changing career, however, is to do your research and planning and to ensure that any career change aspirations are realistic and achievable.

Look at What You’ve Got First

Before you start thinking about jumping ship and changing your career path, it’s important to look at what you’ve got now and to analyse your own skills, knowledge, experience and resources and to determine if all those factors as they stand right now would enable you to switch to another career with relative ease.

It may well be the case that you no longer enjoy your current career but you still have no idea what you would like to do. However, there are plenty of online resources which allow you to input your skills, qualifications, personal qualities and workplace preferences and they will come up with a list of potentially suitable careers based upon your experience to date and your preferences. You can also seek advice from career advisors.

If the options suggested appeal to you, a good starting point is to talk to some people at various levels who are currently working within the industry you are considering and gain their opinions on it, as well as asking for suggestions on what you might be able to do to break into the specific sector. Remember, however, that there are other factors that may also have a bearing on your decision. For example, you might hate your current job and long to do something different but the new potential alternative career might pay far less than what you’re currently earning. Alternatively, you may find that you might need to move to another geographic location in pursuit of your new chosen career. Both of these factors, especially if you have a family, might very well prevent you from changing career at this stage but they are important aspects to consider so that you’ll know whether or not a particular career change is a realistic option at this moment in time.

Planning a Strategy for a Career Change

If you have decided that a career change is, after all, the best thing for you, the next stage is to work out how you’re going to achieve it. If, for example, you need to acquire new skills, you’ll want to start making plans to do that. Sometimes this isn’t possible all in one go and you may find you have to acquire these new skills in stages whilst maintaining your current position.

Start drawing up lists of potential employers. It’s often quite useful to speak to careers advisers who will probably know of particular companies that are more open to considering people who wish to change careers later in life. They’ll also possibly know of companies who are about to recruit as well as knowing which ones welcome speculative approaches. A scattergun approach where you send off multiple applications in the hope that at least one or two of them will show some kind of interest rarely works so thorough research and gathering information from useful sources may take a little longer but is more likely to produce better results.

It’s often easier to stay put in a job you don’t like and never pursue the career you desire. However, it’s important to remember that we all spend a lot of our daily lives going to work and you may still have many years of active working life ahead of you, so just think what it would feel like to get up for work each day to do something you enjoy?

Nothing in life comes to us easy, particularly concerning jobs or careers, but many people before you have made remarkable career transitions, some after many years of doing an entirely different job so it is possible and, if you’re strong willed enough, realistic in your expectations and are prepared to put the groundwork in, then a career change may end up being the best thing you have ever done.

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Scare - Your Question:
Recently switched from a financial analyst role which was going nowhere (giving up a potential large future redundancy payment in the process, due to long service) to another bank which was paying more and offering a wider-ranging role, which I thought would solve my issues of staleness and worry that I was becoming institutionalised. However, the new role is not as expected and it appears has limited longevity due to much of the operation being moved offshore. Initial anxiety has now been replaced with fear that on trying to further my career & broaden my horizons, I have inadvertently denied myself redundancy security & swapped one bad role for another. How can I stop thinking like this and make the best of it instead?

Our Response:
For the time being, focus on today - how to improve your job, make sure you are recognised for what you're good at and keep records of this in case you do need to apply for a new post in the future. You cannot dwell on "what-if" scenarios as this will just demoralise you. Think only of the future and make a list of scenarios that could help you shape it.
LifeCoachExpert - 16-Sep-16 @ 12:09 PM
Recently switched from a financial analyst role which was going nowhere (giving up a potential large future redundancy payment in the process, due to long service) to another bank which was paying more and offering a wider-ranging role, which I thought would solve my issues of staleness and worry that I was becoming institutionalised. However, the new role is not as expected and it appears has limited longevity due to much of the operation being moved offshore. Initial anxiety has now been replaced with fear that on trying to further my career & broaden my horizons, I have inadvertently denied myself redundancy security & swapped one bad role for another. How can I stop thinking like this and make the best of it instead?
Scare - 15-Sep-16 @ 9:53 AM
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