How to Change Your Career

- hints, tips advice and guidance on how to change your career and to get the job satisfaction you want.

Years ago very few people would want to change career, and it would not usually have been very easy, but now with a far more fluid wok environment, a career change is nowhere near as difficult. If you are considering a complete career change the key is to know how to change your career, and how to make sure that it is what you really want.

A career change can take many forms, and indeed many people migrate from one form of career to another over a period of time while still being employed by the same employer - the career change occurs naturally without any formal plan of how to change your career. Take the typical example of an electronics engineering graduate. He is likely to start his career focussing on the technical aspects of electronics engineering. However as time progresses he may effectively change his career from being a technical specialist to taking on more managements roles and become a manager. The skill sets required for these two different types of career are very different, and therefore they must be considered as two different careers.

But for most people a change of career often implies a complete change of direction and a change of employment from one field to another. This can be a large change, and although it can be the right thing to do in many instances, it should not be considered lightly and it should be fully investigated first.

Evaluate your current position

There are many reasons for wanting to make a career change. It may be that technology is moving on and the old career will not exist for long and there is a need to move onto another career. For other people it may be that they have been in their current career for a number of years and it no longer holds its interest and attraction. Others may that they cannot progress as they may want. All of these are valid reasons, along with a host of others.

It is also worth balancing the need to move against the advantages of the existing career. You may well have built up a reputation, there will be a good level of expertise gained from training as well as experience in the job. There will also be benefits from the employer (assuming a change of employer is required) that will need to be forfeited - holiday, seniority, etc. In addition to this a move may have affect the overall pension benefits achievable.

When considering a career change it is necessary to look at both advantages and disadvantages, and then making a reasoned decision. It may also help to talk to others to get a balanced view.

How to change your career

When looking at how to change your career, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help with preparation for the ultimate change. There are at least three areas which help:

  • Training:   When looking at how to change your career, one area that can easily be seen is that additional training may be required. This will help set in place some of the qualifications that may be needed. By undertaking and successfully completing some training, it will also show any future employers that you are self motivated and determined about the new career area.
  • Experience:   Training on its own is not normally enough. Employers generally want to see that people have a proven track record in a certain area. Put yourself in their position. Someone who has undertaken training but had not practical experience will still need to learn the practicalities of the new career area. By having some experience, this can help relieve the worries of the prospective employer. It may not always be easy to gain some experience without taking on the job. This is a dilemma that many people experience. There may be some ways round this. It may be possible to undertake some voluntary work in the area of the new career, or an area allied to it. This may have to be done outside normal working hours if the existing job has to be continued. Also it may be possible to do some freelance work, or work from home in the new career area. This also has the advantage that it may be possible to see what the new career might be like. However beware not to take on too much and become overloaded and fail in all areas.
  • Networking:   In many areas of industry, a network is a valuable commodity. Many new jobs are gained through one's network. Accordingly it can be very useful to build up a network of contacts in the new chosen career area.

Having undertaken suitable preparation, it is then necessary to be able to sell yourself in the new area, especially in your CV and at the interview. Remember to present yourself well, and don't forget to mention skills from your old career that will benefit your new one. Also be prepared to answer questions regarding the reasons for your career change. Be positive about this and do not present a negative view, i.e. why you wanted a new challenge rather than wanting to get out of the old job.

Summary

While a complete change of career is a large decision to make, when actioned correctly it can bring many benefits. However it is first necessary to make sure that it is the right course of action to take, also that any necessary preparations for a career change are made, and then that a suitable new form of employer or employment is gained. This must be done properly and it is necessary to plan how to change your career. It may then bring the benefits you require.

By Ian Poole


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