Many of us will change careers or consider doing so at some point in our lives, so it’s important to ensure that the transition is well executed.
The key to making a successful transition is self-awareness and planning. When someone comes to me for help with changing careers, one of the first things I do is help them identify their values. Some of the questions I might ask includeWhat’s important to you? What gives meaning to your life? What are your personal goals? What do you want from your career?
The self-awareness and understanding gained from the answers to these questions provides a solid foundation for a career action plan.
A school teacher, Anne, came to see me. She was adamant teaching was no longer her passion and that she absolutely must find another vocation. During our session I was interested to learn that she did in fact still love teaching but the school she’d been working at for the past 10 years had undergone a restructure. This included the development of a whole new philosophy much different to the one that attracted her to the school in the beginning.
As it turned out, Anne couldn’t imagine a life without teaching since it was something she’d wanted to do since childhood and had worked hard to excel at. With her qualifications, passion and expertise, it seemed a no-brainer that it wasn’t a new career Anne needed, but a new job. It wasn’t until we tapped into Anne’s values and had a chance to analyse her current situation, that she realised this too.
We set out to define what Anne needed in her job, and after confirming these needs could no longer be met in her current role, worked towards making the transition to a new role. Within a matter of weeks, Anne had got a more rewarding role, closer to home, for more money and with a school that suited her.
Not everyone is like Anne however, some people believe they have made the wrong choice, or simply feel ready for a change. If you’re certain it’s a new career you need, here are some questions for you to ask yourself:
- What will your new career offer you that your current career doesn’t?
- What are your transferable skills?
- What are your preferred work environments?
- Will you need to retrain and if so, are you willing and able to do what it takes?
- Are you willing to take a pay cut to pursue your new career if necessary?
- What obstacles might you encounter as you transition to your new career?
Try to gain the necessary qualifications, skills and experience you’ll need before you leave your current job. Job seekers already in employment tend to be more successful in gaining a new position than those who are unemployed. It’s a good idea to join any relevant professional associations (even as a student or associate if you don’t yet qualify as a full member), attend networking events and build contacts in the industry you plan to join. This is crucial since the majority of roles are filled through connections rather than job advertisements.
Finally, develop a clear and strategic career plan. This will act as a roadmap to your new career. Identify the goal you want to achieve then list the steps you’ll take to achieve it. Include details of specific tasks you need to complete. Allocate realistic deadlines for the completion of each task. Once you’ve completed your assigned tasks and reached your goal, it’s a good idea to evaluate your situation. Reflect on your progress and set any new goals you might wish to achieve.