Changing your career is a big decision to make, not just on what else you can do, but also taking the first step. Changing careers is one of the most exciting things you can choose to do in your life: it can boost your creativity, reignite your passion for work, and take you out of your comfort zone. Here’s some advice on how to make the switch.
Before you venture down a new career path, it’s important to create a clear picture of what kind of career might suit your interests, values and professional personality. It’s worth asking yourself some key questions:
Once you’ve answered these, you should have a clearer picture as to what you might like to do. Now’s the time to research what employers might be looking for in the career fields you’re interested in. Current job advertisements will help you assess your suitability for these roles, and where you might have opportunities to work on your skills and experience.
When considering a change of career, you’ll need to think carefully about the skill set you can offer a prospective role and employer. Start by listing your professional and personal strengths and consider how they might be more broadly useful to employers, and specifically useful within certain industries. For example, if you take initiative, have empathy, and can delegate well, you’re already demonstrating desirable leadership qualities.
The good news is that some qualities are universally valued by employers (think critical thinking or communication skills) whereas others might be useful in a field you hadn’t considered before (listening, for example, is a trait that’s just as valuable in counselling as it is in intelligence operations).
Considering how you might transfer your existing capabilities into a new field will also have you prepared for when a hiring manager asks you the same question!
Being able to discuss your career goals and your desire for change is an invaluable part of making the leap into a new field. While you can certainly chat this through with friends or family, a coach will help get you ready for a career in all respects. You can find one by asking family and friends, checking on public forums, or simply by using Google. They can help expand your expectations to consider job fits that you might not have previously considered, offer advice on writing a great cover letter to prospective employers, and provide objective answers to questions like “Can I change my career at 30?” (Spoiler: people can and do all the time – and in their forties, fifties and even sixties, too!).
Gaining an additional qualification or building up your experience can do wonders for your career: it can lead to greater employment and financial opportunities, and improve your network. But there’s also some invaluable personal advantages: further study can boost your wellbeing through an improved sense of self-confidence and interpersonal communication.
If you’ve identified that you need to do some upskilling in order to pursue your chosen career, additional study or training (either full-time or part-time) might be useful for attaining the required credentials. For some roles, a university qualification might be essential for a successful career, whereas vocational training might be more beneficial for those seeking practical know-how.
Trading in a career that leaves you unsatisfied for one that makes you happy can lead to a more meaningful professional experience, a better work-life balance, and moving closer to your long-term goals. Finances are also an important consideration, as well as being able to maintain a lifestyle that brings you joy.
You’ll need a clear picture of your budget, and to set realistic goals for your transition period. You’ll also want to think about the study and employment options in your area, and whether you’d be willing to move in order to take on a role within your dream industry, or complete a qualification that enables you to take that leap.
In terms of your personal finances during this time, you could also consider different ways of managing your credit cards. American Express Card Members have access to Plan It, which enables them to pay down their Credit Card balance in instalments with a fixed monthly fee and a 0% p.a. interest rate1. Plan It enables you to embrace life’s big changes – like finding a career you love – whilst maintaining flexibility and control over your spending.
YOU’LL NEED A CLEAR PICTURE OF YOUR BUDGET, AND TO SET REALISTIC GOALS FOR YOUR TRANSITION PERIOD.
That’s not to say that making the switch is easy. As with any big change in life, there’s an initial wave of excitement, followed by research and decision-making – which can be stressful and challenging for anyone
With that in mind, staying put will always feel like the easier option. But if you’re looking to join the ranks of career changers, inaction won’t bring you the long-term satisfaction that comes with finding a job that suits you and your values.
So do your homework, plan as best you can – and then take the leap!