Research conducted by the London School of Business and Finance suggests that 47% of UK employees would like a change in their career direction. Surprisingly, close to a third of the workers are not sure when they will make a change. Changing career directions can be an exciting as well as an overwhelming concept for many people. If you have been thinking about changing your career, the following article will give you some guidance and inspiration to get started.
Employers are particularly interested in hiring people with experience. A genuine interest in the job and excellent qualifications are no longer sufficient. Organisations prefer taking on staff who have already proved competence in a similar role because it will help them lower their risk of making poor hiring decisions. Higher education providers in the UK have adopted a similar approach. Gaining experience is key to help you change career direction.
But how do you gain experience in a new field? It might seem like a vicious circle at first. Without a job, you will not get the experience, and without the experience, you will not get hired. Rest assured, there are some ways to gain some experience and to help you stand out from the crowd.
One of the best ways to move into a brand new career path is through part-time work or volunteering. Devote some time to researching vacancies and submitting some carefully written applications. Spend a couple of hours a week investigating new opportunities. When you see an exciting post advertised, do apply as quickly as possible. Do not forget about freelance or seasonal roles. These can provide fantastic opportunities for dipping your toe into a new career field.
Many not-for-profit organisations have a wide range of volunteering roles. You could start volunteering a few hours a week and start building up your knowledge and skills. Whilst remaining employed, you will have the opportunity to test if the new direction is the right option for you.
Think of knowledge
Clara worked as an administrative manager for a well-known university. She often thought about how much she would enjoy teaching and working with young people. Clara started volunteering as a mentor first. She thoroughly enjoyed her new volunteering role which she has taken up whilst keeping her full-time job. Then, a friend recommended that Clara looked into some academic courses to receive further qualifications.
Clara decided to take up postgraduate study and successfully completed her course. She now works as a lecturer and she is thrilled to work with students. In fact, she wishes that she had made the career direction change earlier.
Developing a good balance between your professional experience and your academic credential is key. If you are thinking about making a significant change in your career, you need to prove that you are qualified to do the job. Going back to study can be an exciting prospect and a life-changing experience for you.
Clarify your options
Are you thinking about changing your career, however, you are not sure about what else you can do? It is wise to take some time out and reflect on your options. Ask yourself ‘If I could take up any job, what would that be?’ and ‘How could I best use my skills to make a difference?’ and ‘What are my real strengths’?
You might find that you need to spend weeks or months mulling over your options. Try not to jump into any new fields too quickly. Devote ample time for exploring possibilities.
If you are not clear about what your key skills and strengths are, it is a great idea to start collecting some feedback from the people around you. You may approach some supportive friends, family, or colleagues. Once you have selected up to five people, ask them to share three of your strengths with you. Explain to them that you are completing some research and would very much appreciate their feedback. It is best to focus only on your strengths and not on your weaknesses. They do not need to make suggestions for your improvement areas. Make sure that you have a pen and notepad with you to jot down their insights. This exercise can reveal to you some of your strengths which you may not have noticed before!
Remember that a third of the workforce is not clear about when to change (as the above research suggests). Create a realistic timeline. Think about both your short and long term aspirations. Find yourself a coach who can hold you accountable.
For some people, changing careers can be a challenging concept in the short term. However, the longer-term benefits could be endless. You could find a role which really suits your skills, bring creativity to your work and make a positive difference in the world.
Find your next career move here.