Taking the leap – Is it time for a career change?

Sam Wilson, August 19, 2015

A few years ago I was incredibly unhappy in my job. The role I was in was unfulfilling, the company I worked for were unpleasant and there were virtually no prospects for me to advance or develop. I was in a rut. I’d been in the industry for a number of years and had worked a few different roles and for a couple of organisations. None of them provided anywhere near the amount of job satisfaction that I knew I needed in order for me to have a happy career. After extensive consideration, I knew it was time for a significant change.

I now find myself writing this at my desk here at Jobsgopublic, the job I now do couldn’t be more different from my previous line of work and I couldn’t be happier for the fact. I love my job now, I am challenged every day and as a result I have learnt so much and continue to do so every day.

As you can probably guess, I’m pleased with the decision I made to switch careers.

Before you start writing your resignation letter please know that I am not saying that everyone reading this should pack up and leave immediately. This is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Once the decision has been made then you need to formulate a clear plan moving forward. Only at this point should you start drafting that letter.

Time for a change?

Career Change  | JobsgopublicThere are a number of reasons that people decide to switch careers, none more valid than others. Most stem from a basic unhappiness in your work.

If your job makes you unhappy then it is essential that you establish why that is the case and change it. Take the time to think what would make your working life more enjoyable and whether that would be obtainable within either your current organisation or a similar one. It might be that a complete career change isn’t necessary and that in fact taking on a different role would give you the satisfaction you need. It might be that it is your employer that prevents you from enjoying your job, in this case simply moving to a different organisation may provide the solution.

For me, I wanted to work normal office hours, I wanted the opportunity to be creative and I wanted to pursue my passion for writing. There was no way for me to do this, not only in the organisation I was working for but in the industry in general. A lack of opportunity to pursue my passions combined with a gruelling and thankless working schedule was enough for me to know that I needed a significant change.

Can you change?

Career Change | JobsgopublicOnce you’ve decided that it is a complete change that you need, the next step is deciding where you want to go. Deciding on the role/occupation that you want to move into will have a significant impact on what steps you need to take to make that a reality.

For me the decision was easy, whilst taking a course in my previous position I did a short Marketing module. I remember thinking “This is really interesting, if I’m ever not doing what I’m doing I’d really like to do that”. Sure enough, a year down the line I was completely miserable in my work, thoroughly ready for a change and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

If your next move isn’t so clear-cut then it is by no means the end of the world, you just have some thinking to do.

Start by asking yourself some questions:
• What do I want from my new position?
• What are my strengths?
• What skills have I developed?
• Are these skills transferable?

The answers to these questions should provide you with a basis from which you can begin to gain a clearer idea of what you want to do.

Websites such as the National Careers Service provide comprehensive advice for those unsure of their next move. Experienced advisors can discuss your ambitions, skills and experience and provide guidance in terms of the options available to you and steps you can take to achieve them.

Career Change | JobsgopublicAnother important thing to establish is whether you have the means to undertake additional study or an internship. For certain industries, experience of this kind will be a minimum requirement. In many cases internships will pay very little (if anything at all) so it is important to consider if you are able to support yourself through a period of little or no income.

Positivity is key during this time however so is realism. Unfortunately, certain occupations will be beyond your reach unless you’re willing to dedicate the better part of a decade to studying. As I said before, it is all about knowing your means so if going to university and studying full-time for a number of years is a possibility and you are determined that it is the right course then by all means go for it. I’m going to assume that for the majority this probably isn’t feasible; take the time to research what qualifications are the minimum requirements for the professions you are interested in and use this as a guide when judging feasibility. An option available to those who are unable to study to full time is to look into to studying part-time. When I moved into Marketing I spent almost going to college one evening a week, this is a great way to gain those all important qualifications.

Other professions will have extremely high levels of competition for vacancies, this shouldn’t necessarily be a complete deterrent however should be a consideration. Pursuing opportunities within industries like this may require a lot more time before you find success so it is important that you are able to remain patient and positive.

How to change

career-changeSo you’ve chosen your desired profession and established that it is feasible for you to pursue it, what now?

Firstly, you need to establish the level at which you would be able to enter an organisation in your chosen field. It might be that your only option is to start in an entry-level position however it is possible that the skills and experience you have developed might allow you to start slightly higher.

The best way to work this out is by speaking to someone within the industry. Think about whether any of your friends or family either work in the industry or might know someone who does, everyone has had to start somewhere and most people should be willing to have a brief conversation about the best way to break into the profession.

Another approach would be to put together a list of companies that you would like to work for and reach out to relevant people within that organisation. Connect with them on LinkedIn and send a message asking for advice. In this message explain your situation and ask how people in their organisation start out and whether they know of any existing or upcoming opportunities. You may find that many don’t respond (they’re busy people and some simply don’t have time) however you should have at least someone come back to you with a bit of advice. It’s also completely possible that they will be impressed by your proactive approach, after that…who knows what might happen.

Job satisfaction should be considered an essential part of your professional life, unhappiness at work can quickly lead to extreme levels of stress and unhappiness in your personal life. If you feel dissatisfied in your current career then you should make changing this an upmost priority.

Exercising patience in deciding exactly what your next step should be is crucial, take your time and really think about what you want and what would make you happy. You’ll get there!

Best of luck!