A new year brings with it great opportunities, not least of which is the chance to make a career change.
Traditionally the crossover between one year and the next is a time for reflection, assessment and positive change; a time when we examine our lives, identify things we aren’t happy with, and make important alterations.
It is also “boom time” for employers and job seekers, as weary unfulfilled workers return after the Christmas break with a reinvigorated determination to find a role more suited to them.
Though you may be strong of will, the logistical challenges of making a career change can sink your efforts before they have started, resigning you to yet another year of raised hopes and failed expectations.
To pre-empt this daunting turn of events and maximise your chances of making a successful career move this year, you must make a plan. We hate to use a cliche, since it is seldom helpful to do so, but in the case of changing careers, the old adage “proper planning prevents poor performance” is pretty much on-the-money.
Whilst we can’t provide you with a detailed, bespoke, step-by-step program of action to realise your career potential this year, we can make a few suggestions, that if carried out with gusto, should keep you on the right track and moving towards the career that you want.
This is perhaps the most important step in making an effective career change, do not be tempted to skip it. Creating an accurate and detailed appraisal of the skills and experiences that you already have, will allow you to assess where you stand in relation to a range of careers; it is the job seekers equivalent of stocktaking.
This process is much trickier than you might imagine, as many job seekers struggle to create a comprehensive overview of their abilities; undervaluing some and failing to identify others. In the business, these are more commonly referred to as ‘transferable skills’ and they are the bedrock of your employment prospects. After all, if you don’t know what skills you have, how do you expect a prospective employer to?
If you need some help we have a very useful article explaining what transferable skills are, with great examples and we also have some expert advice on how to transfer your acquired skills to a new career.
By this we don’t necessarily mean deciding what specific career you would like to have, although if you happen to know already, that’s great. This portion of your career plan is all about realising the types of things that you would like to be included in your career. On a practical level you should think about the specific things that are important to you, and compile a list. Some of the things that you might like to think about include;
- Day to day job activities
- Level of responsibility
- Levels of flexibility
- Work related benefits and perks
- Working conditions
- Level of co worker / customer / client interaction
- Prospects for career progression
It can also be helpful to rank the items in this list, grading them from most important to least, as this will help demonstrate to yourself how much store you place on each individual factor; this will become important later when deciding which career is right for you.
It is unlikely that you will ever find one career which fully meets your needs and expectations, but this process is about getting as close a match as possible, so stick with it and you’ll be in a great position to get started.
Unless you are a the world’s greatest employment expert, you probably don’t have an in built database of all the careers currently in existence; you need to educate yourself in today’s job market. After all, you can’t be expected to make a positive, well informed decision when you don’t have all the information.
This part of the process can be long and laborious. You will come across many many jobs which are unsuitable for you before you begin to explore some which are more appropriate; just bear in mind that each one you reject moves you closer to the right one!
Luckily for the modern job-seeker, much of the hard work can be done online. A really good place to start is on job boards / vacancy posting sites, as the content here will give you a sound idea of the careers which exist within certain sectors, and which roles are in the highest demand.
You are not trying to find a perfect match (although if you do, that’s wonderful), you are trying to identify a career which suits a decent number of the items on your wish list and is reasonably within your reach.
Don’t forget to check out our own Career Directory, which is stacked full of detailed and easy to follow career guides on a vast range of roles.
If you have now settled upon a career that you would like to pursue, it’s time to make a very honest and critical evaluation of your skills / experiences and those which are required for said career.
This step is not intended to give you a cold dose of reality, or deter you from perusing the career that you want, it is to help you identify any gaps which exist in your suitability and find strategies to help rectify them.
There is no point in chasing a career for which you are not yet qualified or experienced enough, you now need to set about making yourself as employable as possible. Be realistic in your expectations and accept that you will have to work hard to make a career change a reality.
Of course, specifics vary from person to person, but the amount of work you need to do could range from minor upskilling in one aspect of a role to whole new educational qualifications.
The most important thing is to ensure that the change is right for you.
Hopefully this has come in handy as you plan a new career for 2015. You might like to take a look at some of these other recent posts;
Making a career change, 3 harsh truths
Making a career change, the questions you need to ask