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Changing career? Here’s what you need to know

posted by Carla on Thursday, 19 January 2017

The majority of people change their jobs every three years. This could be due to a promotion or a move to a new company. But what if you have come to loathe the industry you work in?  

For some reason, we are asked to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives at a very young age. The subjects we opt to take during our college years impact what we can study at university (if we choose that route) and the types of roles we can apply for. 

The same is said about apprenticeship, while they are a fantastic way to learn on the job, the decision we make at an extremely young age has a direct impact on the rest of our lives. That is a lot of pressure to put on a teenager’s shoulders. 

If you’re one of the many to realise that the career you’ve studied hard for is the wrong path, or you’ve lost your passion over the years, you are not alone. It’s no secret that career changes are common. Whether you are 30 or 60, it is never too late to change course and train for the job of your dreams. 

Is it easy to change careers?

Changing a career is an exciting milestone, but it is not a straightforward process of simply making a decision, handing in your notice, and walking into a new industry. While you may have grown and nurtured skills that are transferable to different markets, most companies are looking for evidence of experience operating in the role you are applying for. 

But don’t let a little hard work put you off!

Waking up every morning, knowing that you are heading off to a job you love is an entirely different feeling to working in a role you hate. Even with the best work-life balance, if you hate your job, that inevitably seeps into your personal life. 

If you have been unhappy for a while, perhaps now is the time to plan a transition into a new career. 

Why don’t people change careers?

So often, when discussing careers, we hear the phrase:  

In an ideal world, I would be doing [insert dream job role here].

Sadly, a lot of people are put off by the idea of chasing their dream career for financial reasons. Indeed, a career change can initially involve a drop in salary, especially if the skills you have gained over the years are not transferable to your new industry. 

However, changing careers doesn’t automatically mean starting from scratch. You can take steps to bridge the pay gap before taking the leap.

How to change careers

Whether you know what your dream career is, or are still searching for a job that you can feel passionate about, you mustn’t jump the gun. Take time to analyse whether this is the right move for you and make a solid plan of action. 

1. Take a career quiz

If you are unsure what you are passionate about, but firmly believe that it is not in the industry you are currently trained in, it is worth taking time to understand what types of careers might match your personality and outlook. 

UCAS offers a quirky quiz that analyses your personality, explains the traits you have and the types of roles that may suit you. You may find something you haven’t considered before, but catches your attention and excites you. 

2. Research career path opportunities

Browse job profiles in your targeted field to gauge:

  • The variety of roles in your new field
  • What responsibilities you are likely to have
  • Potential career paths you can work towards
  • The minimum entry-level requirements

Think about the skills you currently possess that can be transferred to your new field of interest. Make a note of these, add them to your CV and refer to them in your interviews.

3. Make new contacts

LinkedIn may become your new best friend. Connect with individuals currently operating in the profession you are hoping to move into and ask for advice, or just a conversation about what it’s really like to work in this field. 

If possible, access your university alumni contacts and ask for an informal chat about what to expect day-to-day from this type of career.

You could also arrange to shadow someone operating in the role you are aiming for. This will help to set your expectations and confirm whether this is the right pathway for you.

It may be that you shadow someone and realise that that specific role isn’t what you expected or hoped it would be. When this happens, don’t be discouraged. Try to see it from the point of view that now you know what you don’t want and can go back to the drawing board. 

Alternatively, you may find that it is everything you were hoping for and more. In this case, you can take the next step towards obtaining your dream job.

4. Volunteer

One of the most annoying things to hear after spending hours fine-tuning your CV, applying for a role and preparing for an interview is that you don’t have enough experience. 

Frustrating as it may be, you will struggle to enter your new field without being able to showcase some experience. This is where volunteering comes in. Gaining as much experience as possible will not only increase your chances, but it will also showcase your passion and dedication to prospective employers. 

This can usually be done by looking for short internship opportunities.

5. Retrain

Going back to school can be an off-putting part of changing careers. In addition to the anxiety some feel about going back to a brick and mortar school, quitting your job to study is unfeasible for many. 

Not every career change will require this step. However, for the ones that do you don’t have to quit your job to gain the qualifications you need for a career jump. 

With the rise of distance learning, you can now study at your own pace and to your schedule. Meaning you can learn alongside your current job. 

When you study with Oxbridge, you will have access to a personal tutor to support you while you learn. They will even be able to offer advice on what steps you can take next to finally achieve your dream.

Start your journey towards a new career

Don’t spend another month, week or even day in an industry you hate. Start planning your journey to a new career and a happier life. Need some career or course guidance? You can speak to our team of advisers on live chat and we’ll be happy to help.