How to begin a career change

So, it’s almost September.  Hands up if you spent most of the summer break daydreaming about leaving your job and embarking on something completely different?

If your hand went straight up almost automatically, rest assured it won’t be the only one.  Around half of UK employees dream about changing their career completely, according to a recent CIPD survey.  But the great news is that if you “just fell into” your career, then stayed in it for far longer than you should have, it’s easier than ever before to carve out a path towards something better.

I know.  Easy to say, but so very much harder to do, isn’t it?

I’ve been in exactly this position myself, as a seriously disillusioned HR Manager who knew I had to change something, I just didn’t know what.  Now firmly ensconced in my new life as a professional writer, I will maintain that mid-life career changers have a great deal to offer the working world. 

(So much, in fact, that if I ever had the money I would start a recruitment agency dedicated to mid-life career changers.  After all, wouldn’t it make sense for companies to take advantage of all the renewed energy, vigour and valuable life experience that comes with beginning a second career?)

But anyway…

Second careers can be harder to begin, mainly due to practicality and confidence.  If you’ve got a family, you probably won’t want to risk their comfort and stability on a career gamble. 

Not to mention the fact that you’ve got to start all over again – and how can you, anyway, when you have a CV that’s peppered with the same job title, or the same company, for years?  What could you possibly offer a new career, and how can you possibly make it attractive enough for anyone to consider you over someone with the right qualifications or more experience?

These few questions alone are enough to stop even the most eager would-be career changer dead in their tracks.  This is hardly surprising, since all of them are very real, with serious implications.

So my first piece of advice is probably the most important: stop overthinking!

Get ready for uncertainty

To begin a new career successfully, you’re going to need a new mindset.  Preferably, one that can accept (if not quite embrace) uncertainty.

Don’t think of career change as “all or nothing”

The good news is that to a certain extent, even uncertainty can be managed!  The best way to achieve this is by staying in control of the things that matter.  If you’re worried about money, for example, there’s nothing to stop you from laying career change foundations while you’re still in your current job.  Starting small is still starting, after all – and who knows where that start will lead?

Reach out, Four Tops-style

The thing that drastically moved my own career change along was something I had previously shied away from.  Contacting people, and asking them for help.

You probably know a lot of people.  I’m not just talking about friends, but casual acquaintances, friends-of-friends, family members, people you chat to occasionally at the gym…I could go on.

Do any of them do something you’d like to do?  If not, do they do something more interesting than you, or could they know someone else who does something you’d like to do?

Find out by asking!  Then, why not arrange the odd coffee meeting with the people who interest you the most?  What have you got to lose?

Write a ‘career change’ CV

Nothing will build your confidence more than reminding yourself of everything you’re good at.  So get writing.

Forgetting what you actually do for a living and what your job description says you should be good at, what are the skills you’re most proud of? (For example, you could be an IT Manager who’s great at resolving non-technical arguments!)

Write them down, and then use them to create a skills-based CV.  One that focuses on what you’re actually good at and enjoy, rather than a collection of job titles and related experience.

Even if you don’t actually want to use your new CV just yet, the process of thinking outside of your job description should help you kick-start a few new ideas, this season and beyond!

If you’re searching for something new, good luck!  And if you’re looking for any extra written help, just get in touch.