Do you want a quick answer? There is never a right time to change your career.
Maybe becoming a parent has made you realise “THIS ISN’T ENOUGH”. That you want a job that will fit around your family, or make you leap out of bed in the morning, rather than drag your feet and sigh. You could be job searching after redundancy or you are looking to return to work after a career break.
Either way, the thought of changing careers, stepping away from your comfort zone, your work family and your status can lead to people staying put as they are waiting for the stars to align before they take the leap. In a world where a job for life is no longer a real thing we all need to take control of our career paths; not let our careers control us.
If you are considering changing careers, then these are the five things you need to start doing NOW to make it happen.
Become an eternal student
One of the key skills that everyone needs to progress their career (and you may have noticed it popping up A LOT in job descriptions) is “lifelong learning” or “continual professional development” From IT to business development to presentation skills, make sure you are ALWAYS learning. The reason for this is twofold. On a practical level, you can find ways to train yourself in the areas that are needed for your new career or business; you can develop the skills BEFORE you need them. The very fact you are learning (be it through a course, job shadowing or self-taught) will also show future employers that you are capable of learning and applying information – a key bridge between your new and existing job.
You will need to rebrand
I expect you are carrying around a story in your head about your “Professional Brand” linked to what you do now – and it likely to be directly attached to your job title. Likewise, other people will know you as the “Accountant” or the “Graphic Designer” and not that you are an amazing Photographer or Writer. You need to shift in your head who you are; if you don’t believe your talents and skills how can you make anyone else? Write down all the things you do and the experiences that you have that support your new career. Find a job description of the career you want (or a combination if you are creating a whole approach to a role) and find the evidence of your skills. Before you start anything else, you have to believe in yourself! You can find out more about transferable skills in my blog, Mind the Gap.
Calculate your money
Don’t assume that changing career will mean you will have to start again financially; if you are savvy with your transferable skills during an interview you may end up matching or increasing your current salary. However, despite what some business coaches may tell you, if your career change involves working for yourself, you are likely to have a dip in income in the short-term, so you will need to be prepared.
If you are planning to change your career and expect a drop in salary, and have your ideal exit date in mind, then use this time to live “as if”. Work out your minimal viable income (what you need to earn live a life that satisfies you and pays your bills) then put the rest of the money away! This will give you a nice nest egg to use as a buffer when you are transitioning into your new career.
Find out the truth
Who do you know that you can ask about the role? Can you shadow them, or simply have an hour of their time to find out the realities of the role? Are there any local jobs fairs or careers fairs where you can find out more about companies or sectors? Don’t make any assumptions about the job history that is needed to for your new career; I am always intrigued about the routes that different people take to work with the same job title or sector. LinkedIn is a great resource to review the career paths of people. Feel free to check out mine and see how I went from employee to social entrepreneur.
Take the leap: Pt 1 & Pt 2
I don’t mean quit your current job, but begin job searching! Find the job that feels right and apply. You may not get interviews straight away; but it will give you an idea of what is needed and, if you have any gaps in experience or knowledge, you can create a plan of how to get there. It also gets your CV and application form in front of the people that have the job you want. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes!
If your career change is becoming your own boss, then simply start! With a healthy work-life balance in mind, consider how you could start building your business and a positive reputation whilst still in a day job? Can you do some evenings a week? Who do you know that you can tell your plans to, and hold you accountable? Start networking and building connections early. Don’t forget, you only need to start with one client!
Which one will you do first? Join my Facebook Group “The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox” today. Feel free to ask if anyone in the group is currently working in your dream job! We are a friendly bunch!