career

Thinking of having a career change? Here are 10 things you need to think about first.

It can happen to anyone: A job that was once challenging and brought you so much fulfilment is now… not.

There might be nothing that bad about it per se, but you just don’t feel as happy as you once did – and you know getting promoted or switching companies isn’t going to cut it either.

At this point, you might be considering a career change. Whether it’s a passion that you always wanted to pursue but never did or an industry that has started looking very appealing – switching careers can be the best way to bring the spark back to those eight hours you spend working.

However, as career coach Tony Crosby explains, whether it’s a career change at 50 or 25 there’s a lot to consider before you switch careers.

“Career change is about getting a “good outcome” not simply finding a new job. People often confuse the two,” the Associated Career Management Australia Managing Director says.

So how do you know if this decision to change careers is a good one? Well, you can start by thinking about these key things.

1. How well do you know yourself?

An industry might look appealing, but may not actually be the best fit for you. On the other hand there might be an industry that’s the perfect fit for your skills, personality and values, but one you haven’t considered. The only way to find out is to take a good hard look at yourself, Crosby says.

“Everyone (embarking on a career change) has to have a really good understanding of their skills, their competencies, their personality, their aspirations, their strengths, their weaknesses and so that’s the starting point for anyone.”

He says this can be difficult for people to do on their own, so it helps to get an outside perspective from a friend or a professional.

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2. What are your transferable skills?

Now you know what your best assets are, it’s time to think about which skills are going to work well in your chosen industry. Because while your experience may not necessarily translate into your new chosen career, a lot of your skills likely will.

“Everyone’s got a set of skills, but it’s a matter of who would want them. You’ve got to present it in a way that a company would want,” Crosby says.

For instance, if you currently work in marketing, but want to move into HR those people skills, communication skills and knack for assisting people are going to come in handy.

3. And your talents?

Crosby says your talents are different from your skills and these sometimes overlooked qualities can be so important in promoting yourself.

“A talent has a degree of potential in there. With your HR switch from marketing example, you could say ‘I’ve had a talent for mentoring other staff members’ and it’s relevant.”

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4. Look at your LinkedIn and CV from an employer's perspective.

Right now, your LinkedIn profile and resume are geared towards your current industry, but before you look for jobs as part of your career change, take some time to tailor your CV towards your chosen career.

"You've got to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter or employer and ask what are they looking for in a candidate," Crosby says. "Are they going to see 'she's got what I need?'"

So it's important to highlight those transferable skills and talents and think about what makes you perfect for this new job. You can also explain yourself better in a career change cover letter.

5. Do the research.

Crosby advises knowing as much about the industry you want to crack into as possible. From the cultures of the major companies that populate it and what typical career progression looks like, to how much you can expect to earn and what working hours are normal.

This is where you'll find out where within the industry you'll fit best, if at all.

6. Make sure your values align with your chosen career.

If you've done your research, you'll know if your new career is going to align with your current values. A career in law might sound exciting, but if you like getting out on time and not taking your work home with you - this may not be the job for you.

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It's important to know what you're getting into.(Image via Getty.)

7. Find out if you've got the necessary qualifications.

While your current degree in communication is going to be helpful for a job in business, there might be some qualifications your chosen job needs and you're missing. Research will help you identify these. But if you're missing one or two relevant qualifications don't let it put you off.

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Crosby says sometimes it's possible to gain qualifications while on the job. You might need a Bachelor of Business Management to become the Managing Director, but not to start working in the sales team.

8. Consider your finances.

Again, you're going to want to find out how much a typical employee in your chosen career earns.

You might be prepared to take an initial pay cut if you know that in one to two years you'll be back earning your current wage or more, but consider that the best-laid plans can go awry and if things don't go the way you hope you may be forced to live off less for longer. So make sure that's something you or your family can handle.

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9. Think about the long-term.

It's important to think about the long-term when it comes to a career change, Crosby says.

He advises looking at industries where there's growth and potential for long-term employment over ones that are dying out. So for instance, now's not a great time to get into car manufacturing.

10. Don't rush into it.

While for anyone who has been sacked or made redundant, a career change may not be a choice, if you're currently employed there's a lot to consider before you take the leap.

Crosby warns against quitting your job before there's a new one lined up and making sure that new job is going to get you where you want to go in your new career.

"Career satisfaction is an important consideration that underpins your self-esteem and mental health, plus your loved one's financial security... so there is a lot at stake."

"You need a good, informed plan."

You can find more career resources and a free downloadable eBook from ACMA, here.

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