With ‘The Great Resignation’ stealing headlines, the prospect of a career change has never been more pertinent. Though the term was coined in the United States in spring 2021, we’re seeing similar patterns in the UK. In November 2021, for example, it was revealed that one in four UK workers were seeking a new role in the future.
Why are people considering a career switch right now?
So, what exactly is behind the great change? While some simply want to work for an employer with better values, others are considering starting a new career entirely – and there’s never been a better time to do it.
Challenges in the industry
For some, the industry itself has simply become too challenging. A survey, conducted by Randstad UK, revealed that the top four industries facing ‘great resignations’ were manufacturing, construction, tech and logistics. In the tail end of a pandemic, it’s easy to see why: many industries are troubled by supply chain issues, while others, such as logistics, face increasing time pressures.
The switch to working from home, maintaining job security and generally navigating a pandemic have led many workers to burnout. Many have adopted a “life’s too short” mentality and may be seeking a new career with fewer hours, more tech help, or forward-thinking work cultures.
Similar to those with the “life’s too short” way of thinking, many job switchers are putting their health and home life first. The pandemic has given rise to a new focus on flexibility, and UK professionals may seek careers where they have more freedom to raise a family or work part-time.
What to consider before you change your career
Whatever your motivations for changing careers, you need to make sure you’ve considered the pros and cons. It’s easy to be motivated for the wrong reasons – wanting to get away from a bad boss, for example. While looking after your health should always be the top priority, you should have a plan in place: putting you in good stead for healthy career development in the future.
Is changing careers a good idea?
Before you even consider a career change, look at your motivations. Are you ready to upskill, meet new people and commit to financial constraints? Or are you looking to get away from a bad boss?
Retraining has never been more accessible, particularly with so many online learning resources. Be honest with yourself and see how you can answer these questions:
- Do I know what career I want? Do I have a talent or calling?
- Do I understand the salary expectations for this new career? Do they fit with my current lifestyle?
- Can I balance a career change around existing commitments, like raising a family?
- Would I be willing to relocate if I needed to?
- Am I comfortable ‘starting again’ lower down the ladder?
- Do I have time to study? Do I have the funds to support it?
- Can I look for new roles while studying, or do I have a safety net in place?
It doesn’t matter even if you cannot answer all of these questions straight away. This is your opportunity to do your homework. For example, you might want to look at the qualifications you need to start an accounting course. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your family and friends, either.
Does changing jobs affect mortgage applications?
Changing your career may be more challenging if you’re at a critical point in your life – such as buying a house. If you’ve got a job lined up, it could be in your favour, particularly if the salary is higher. You may need to ask your employer for proof of this.
If you’ve not got a job lined up, it may be best to stay employed if you are at that crucial ‘mortgage in principle’ stage. Lenders need security. It’s always best to have a safety net, but proof of income is the best way to impress a lender. Be realistic about your timelines and accept that any drastic moves, such as resignations, may be delayed.
What to do if you don’t know what career path to choose?
You know you need a career switch but you’re not sure what you want to do. You’re not alone! With so many options from the day we start school, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Forbes career expert Dr Ruth Gotian suggests “looking at your weekend” to see what drives you. Hobbies, conversations and priorities could all be secret indicators of our next great career path.
It’s not enough to say, “if you find your passion, you will never work a day in your life”. Many of us love food, but chocolate cake tester is a rare job title. Instead, look at where you can apply your skills. UCAS offers a careers quiz based on your skills and personality type to inspire new ideas.
What would improve your work experience?
Volunteering is a great way to build your work experience while you’re retraining. For example, if you want to retrain in event management, you might consider organising fundraising events for a local charity. These can equip you with ‘hands-on’ skills and show employers that you’re proactive and ready to learn.
How do I build and expand my network?
They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. Your professional network can put you in front of the right mentors, recruiters and tutors, so don’t be afraid to ask around. There are great ways to build your network both on and offline, for example:
- Building a LinkedIn profile, posting and engaging
- Joining industry-specific Facebook groups
- Signing up for union memberships such as the NUJ
- Attending local networking events.
How do you find time to study?
If you think you’ll struggle to find time to study, break your week down into slots. Look at periods of free time, whether they’re weekends or evenings, and create an environment free from distractions. Make sure you research how many hours of study per week your new course recommends.
You may also benefit from a tutor, such as our student, Christopher. With unlimited tutor support, Christopher had somebody to hold him accountable and ensure he was prioritising his career development.
What is the best career to retrain for?
If you’re looking years ahead, you may also consider futureproofing your career. While nothing is certain, advancements suggest that hospitality, warehouse and customer service jobs may start to become ‘automated’. Rather than admitting defeat, this is a great opportunity to retrain, with the following jobs listed as some of the most ‘futureproof’:
- Data science
Of course, the idea of new technology may be daunting for some, with younger generations considered ‘digital natives’ as opposed to more mature workers. This is why it’s important to be mindful of our own circumstances and lifestyles before changing careers.
Career change ideas for all ages
In a time when ageism is at its peak, we cannot let our date of birth dictate where we want to be in our careers. However, generational differences do dictate what we want from our working lives.
For example, Generation Zs (those born between 1997 and 2012) tend to prioritise career growth, wellbeing, autonomy and diversity. By comparison, Generation Xs (those born between 1965 and 1980) value flexibility, stability and work-life balance.
The industry you choose to go into may be influenced by the decisions you’re making at this point in your life. Are you living with your parents, going to university, or supporting a family of your own? Here are some of the best career ideas for those generations already in the world of work:
What is a good career change at 30?
By age 30, you may have already established yourself in one industry, built up a savings pot, or even started a family. At this point, health and stability become more important, while you may also have the ‘hands-on’ experience to bring transferable skills to the table.
Strong career changes for those in their 30s include personal training, business management and healthcare.
Starting a new career at 40
By your 40s, you will have taken time to develop your skills and identify where these can be transferred. You also have the gift of knowing life before the digital age, and making the most of it now that you’re in it.
Some may take this opportunity to sidestep into a role at their current employer – for example, moving from editorial into graphic design, giving them a more well-rounded set of skills. Others may impart their wisdom through teaching or consultancy. If you have spent years in one career, now is the time to encourage others into your industry.
Do I have time to make a career change at 50?
Yes, you can make a career change at 50 – just ask our student Mavis, who enrolled on a fictional writing course. With retirement ages getting higher and life expectancies getting longer, the over-50s are a huge market for change. In fact, one study showed that 59% of over-50s are making the change!
At this stage, you may be close to retirement or looking for part-time work. Look for ways that you can turn hobbies into paid work, such as a gardening or creative writing course.
Retraining for a job change: the pros and cons
If you are looking for a career change, you need to accept that it will take a lot of work. You will need to research the job, check it aligns with your lifestyle, and build a network around you. Before you commit, make sure you weigh up the pros and cons:
Pros of a career change
- The chance to turn a passion into paid work
- An opportunity to learn new skills
- More flexibility and work-life balance
- An escape from high-pressured industries
- Freedom to craft your career around priorities such as family
- Futureproofing your skillset for a changing jobs market.
Cons of a career change
- Time and money needed to retrain
- Uncertainty around new career ideas
- Making time for study, work and home life
- Starting on a lower salary than you’re used to
- Supporting a family while studying or working your way up.
Why Oxbridge is here to help
At Oxbridge, we believe it’s never too late to change careers. Just ask our success stories from our 50+ students, who make up an incredible 35% of us! What’s more important is that you change careers for the right reasons – to develop yourself, support those you love and focus on your health.
An online course is the first step in the right direction. Sign up for a new course and start your career change journey today.