02 Nov 2017
99. TAKING A CAREER CHANGE
Not every career path is linear. There may come a time when you decide to use your skills in an altogether different way.
Words: Charlie Mulraine, the PCA
It’s natural to experience the odd bad day at work or to go through periods when your enthusiasm for what you do is just not what it used to be. You may even have thoughts of moving on or away from your job or career, or a yearning to try something new or different.
It’s important, though, to be honest with yourself about what’s really behind this desire for change. Is it merely a severe case of the Monday blues or a deeper feeling of dissatisfaction? Is it the resurfacing of a long-held ambition or a need to move towards something that will reignite your drive and challenge you in new ways?
Consider also what you might be able to change in your current job that would make it more fulfilling and address some of your concerns. Could you, for example, find fresh inspiration or perspectives from people inside or outside your current field? Are there any opportunities to take on more responsibilities or could you find a new challenge to get your teeth stuck into? Perhaps it’s not the profession you are unhappy with, but rather the particular organisation you are in.
Try to reconnect with the elements of the job you used to enjoy and remind yourself why and how you arrived at this point – what motivated you and what did you find were the most compelling rewards? Can you say the same about yourself in the role today?
Think also about how you are able to make a positive difference in your current role, perhaps by speaking to your wider team or seeking feedback from trusted friends and associates. It may be that you’re contributing far more and have made more of an impact than you were aware of, so be sure to consider the wider impact of any change of direction. There is some truth to the saying ‘the grass is always greener’, so take time to consider your current position from every angle before deciding whether a new career is the answer.
MATCHING SUPPLY AND DEMAND
If after long consideration you’re confident that your desire for change is more deeply rooted and can’t be addressed within your current or a similar role, a change in direction may be the right move. However, first you need a new trajectory to aim for.
In deciding where to go and what to do next, ask what is most important to you, whether that be career advancement, financial rewards, achieving a personal ambition, day-to-day job satisfaction, a greater sense of fulfilment or perhaps a better work-life balance. Think also about what your core values are, what brings you most satisfaction and what motivates you to go to work every morning.
Clarity about what a career change would provide is vital because, by marrying it up with your personal needs, it will help you to make the right decision. It will also give you the fuel to maintain your momentum; knowing why you’re making this change can strengthen your resolve when times get tough.
CONDUCT A SELF AUDIT
Whether or not you know which career you want to move into, now is an excellent time to conduct an audit of your skills and experience. Define your experience by asking yourself what knowledge you possess, how you carry out your role responsibilities and how you deliver results. There are some excellent personality profiling tools on the market that can assist you in this process, and working with a practitioner qualified in delivering these tools can further develop your self-understanding.
As well as helping you to become more aware of what you can offer, your transferable skills and what gaps you might need to fill, going through this process can also generate inspiration on possible new directions in which to take your career.
Be careful, though, as it’s quite possible that working on skills alone you’ll arrive back at career choices that are similar to your current role. Make sure, therefore, that when doing your audit you don’t simply reel off what’s on your CV; instead include any hidden passions, your hobbies and wider interests.
Once you’ve researched and identified a role or type of role to target you can start to map out a plan for getting there. Not only does a plan provide you with a clear sense of direction but setting daily or weekly actions also helps to maintain your momentum.
As part of this plan include people in your network who might be able to help you achieve your goals and any areas of your knowledge or training that will need to be built on. Think long term, because you may not be able to get there straight away or even in the near term. It will take time, effort, determination and often retraining to make headway in your new direction.
Many people consider a change in career at some point in their lives, but many don’t follow through with it, often due to fear and self-doubt. However, if you’ve carried out the steps mentioned here then your decision will be based on careful thought, self-assessment and awareness and thorough research, so you are in the best position to know whether any fear is rational. Is it merely a fear of the unknown or of being out of your comfort zone or have you overlooked some vital piece of information? It can help to draw on your bank of experience here, remembering how you handled periods of change and uncertainty in the past. Is this something you are capable of dealing with again?
Believe in yourself, because it’s likely that many of your core skills and competencies are highly transferable. There’s more than one calling for each of us; what might yours be?