You may have been in your job for some time and it could start to feel stale.
Maybe you’re sick of not being recognised in your current role, perhaps events in your life have given you cause to reconsider your priorities, or maybe you’ve even lost your job. All of these are common reasons to reflect on your career and consider a change of direction.
People change careers for all kinds of reasons and while moving into an entirely different field may seem like a daunting task, it happens more commonly than you might think. But where do you start when it comes to changing careers?
Candidate, to thine own self be true
First things first, you are going to need to have some very honest conversations with yourself.
A career is best built on a solid foundation of knowing what is important to you personally. Think about how important the following elements are to you. Try ranking them and considering what you would be willing to compromise in order to have another:
- Personal interests
- Security and safety
- Room for creativity
- Potential for upward growth
- A sense of belonging/purpose and/or having a mission
- Maximising your potential
Take into consideration your personal circumstances and commitments. Something that might be useful to you is to consider applying Maslow’s needs pyramid to your career choice.
We’ve all had the classic interview questions “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” Well, now is the time to do a real deep-dive into these areas! Learning about ourselves is an important step to finding a career that suits us. Finding a career that will complement your strengths and weaknesses will ultimately help you to flourish. There are personality tests that can help you get this conversation going with yourself, such as the OCEAN test or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.
Don’t forget to consider what areas of yourself you want to improve and the environment you would like to work in. Is a desk job not for you? Look for something that gives you movement and/or travel opportunities. Not keen on an office dynamics? Maybe remote work suits you. Maybe you know you have a voice inside of you but you’ve never had the chance to really use it… then consider work that gives you confidence in yourself. Think about these aspects as well and jot down some notes along with your needs list.
Working out what you don’t want
A helpful exercise when you start considering a career change is looking at your current and past jobs to identify what you did and didn’t like about them.
Identifying what you do not like is often easier than identifying what you do. For this reason, try to write down the dissatisfying things about your current and previous roles. This may include salary constraints, poor work/life balance, levels or lack of responsibility, high stress environment, feeling overworked or lack of self-development, etc. Once you have an overall picture, try to hone in on specifics. What is it about those things you don’t like? They’re too repetitive? Are they too theoretical and not practical enough for you? Maybe you like working with people but not in a front-line role? Maybe you hate being chained to a desk? Maybe the role is too old-fashioned and you want something more modern?
This is helpful because it can be very overwhelming to immediately start trying to answer the question “well what do I want to do? What am I actually interested in?” By flipping the question around, this can give you a framework that can be used to help you rule out roles for the future. Ruling out what you don’t want can then help you to look at the pool of what is left and explore your options to start thinking about what you do want.
Research, research, research
Most of us will get frustrated because we simply don’t know what to put into job websites or search engines to be able to explore our options. It can seem scary and, at times, demotivating and overwhelming but research is your friend.
Job websites don’t only return results for job titles, but also industries, environments and skills. Try searching for listing based on a skill you possess, an industry you want to know about working in, or even something like “outdoor work” and see what pops up. Keep an open mind and read through different job adverts, regardless of whether you are attracted to the title or not. Consider what the company and job offers you and the skills and qualities that are desired from their side, then see how this matches up to your list of needs and things that you do not want.
Balance this exercise out with some interactive research as well. Check out YouTube videos about different job roles, attend online events via social media platforms that give you more information about industries, job opportunities or careers and sign up to higher education open days and events where you can hear more about their offerings.
Some roles you’ll be able to transition to on the strength of your transferable skills, others might require a commitment to retraining or further education, such as a degree. That may seem scary at first, but the education industry has changed. Many institutions now offer flexible payment plans, part-time options you can combine with work, or even full online delivery, allowing you to explore your options.
Try looking for career services in your local area, or if you are enrolled at an educational institution, see what services they can provide you with. A Careers Support Advisor can help you to sift through your ideas and order your thoughts about your career options.
About the author
Catherine Flynn is Student Services Manager at Berlin School of Business and Innovation (BSBI)
After graduating from Queen Mary University of London with a BA in German and European Studies, Catherine moved to Düsseldorf, Germany to begin her career in education. With extensive experience working in a private English language school, she has also worked in project management and content marketing.
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