Choosing your career is an important life decision. Finding the right fit between who you are and what you do is critical for career satisfaction. A career for life is no longer the norm and it is important to understand that you are not alone when considering a career change. Rather consider your career as a journey, one where perceived ”missteps” can prove informative and transformational on the journey to a fulfilling career.
When considering a career change it is vital to think carefully about the personal and professional implications of making a switch. A career assessment is a good first step in assessing whether it is just a job change or a more radical career change that is required to get you back in love with your career again.
Could you be happy doing your job but somewhere else? Or will this job always leave you feeling depressed, undervalued and overworked? This needs to be your starting point. What’s required to shift the career fulfilment dial – a change of job, or a change of career? Work out if you need a new job or a whole new career. A career assessment is a good starting point.
Take our quiz below to better understand if it is a change of job or a change of career you need to get rid of the Monday blues.
Finally, if you are determined that it is a major change that is required, firstly know that you are not alone and read our tips on ensuring that you prepare well for the move and help make the transition a smooth one.
You are not alone
Finding a fulfilling career can be a long, incremental journey. Few people enter the workforce knowing exactly what they want to do. In fact, by age 50, the average person has held 12 different jobs in an effort to find the “right fit.” For many, this requires changing careers completely.
So if you’re considering a career change, you’re not alone. Taking action on these thoughts, however, can be daunting. For some, it can mean deserting a stable job to head down an uncharted path. For others, switching job functions mid-career may mean a lateral move, which can feel like a step backward—but it doesn’t have to be.
Your career as a journey
Each stage in your career provides an opportunity to learn more about yourself: your talents, interests, challenges, and workplace values. Career choices you may perceive as “missteps” often prove to be the most informative and transformational on the journey to a fulfilling career.
What’s more, the notion of career fit is a two-way street. Most employers would prefer that you feel enthusiastic, engaged, and fulfilled in your role, because happy employees are more productive employees. Understanding when it’s time to move on from your current role to pursue other passions can be a win-win for everyone.
Regularly expanding your knowledge of “what’s out there” in the world of employment, and where your pattern of skills, interests, and values might best fit is a healthy endeavour and one to be encouraged. The internet is filled with career advice. A quick Google search of “Career Assessments” yielded over a billion possible links to sites that offer career assessments in some form or another. Take a few minutes to check them out and see if they provide helpful guidance.
Switching careers is a big step. But are you really prepared for such a big change? Did a few bad days at work leave you ready to throw in the towel, or have several years’ worth of unhappiness given you the motivation to try something new? Have you thought carefully about the personal and professional implications of making a switch, or have you decided that anything is better than what you’re doing?
Want to make a bigger impact in your career?
Take our quiz and use the result analyser to better understand if you are ready for a major career change.
1. How often do you fantasise about having a different job?
A. Not much
B. Every once in a while
C. A lot
D. Every Day
2. Do you think your job is helping you reach your long-term goals?
A. Yes, I think I’m on the right path to reach my goals
B. I’m not exactly sure
C. Yes, but I’m not happy
D. No but I really don’t know how to get back on track
3. What does your work schedule look like?
A. It’s so busy, I can’t breathe
B. It’s busy but manageable
C. It’s perfect for me
D. It’s so slow and I’m often bored
4. Do you generally like what you do?
A. Yes, I can do it all day long
B. Yes, but I’m feeling a little bored
C. No, but this was my only option
D. No, I really hate it
5. Are there growth opportunities in your field?
A. Yes, lots of them
B. There are some opportunities, but it’s not like my industry is booming
C. No, this is pretty much it
D. Yes, but I’m not sure how to leverage those opportunities
6. How do you feel about the culture of your current company?
A. The company overall has a great culture and energy
B. I like the culture, but I don’t really like my team
C. I feel like my soul dies a little every day
7. Are you satisfied with your pay?
A. Yes, it is competitive
B. Yes, but I can do better
C. No, I am way underpaid
8. Would you be willing to take a pay cut or demotion if it meant that you could land your dream job?
A. Yes! Get me out of here!
B. Yes, but I would rather not
C. No, I don’t want to give those benefits up
D. No, I can’t live on a lower salary
9. How often do you dream of a role in a new career path?
A. I know exactly what I would do. I can see it when I close my eyes.
B. Sometimes I think about pursuing a passion of mine
C. I see myself in the same industry but in a better role/opportunity
Mostly A & B’s: Not ready — or not for the right reasons
It’s tough to have a bad day at work. It’s really rough to have a few weeks’ worth of bad days. But be careful not to act too quickly before you’ve truly given the job a chance. When things are stressful, it’s easy to want to throw in the towel, but if you wait it out, you may realise that things aren’t as bad as they may seem.
Make a list of what it is that you don’t like. If you find that it’s mostly things associated with the particular company at which you’re working, such as your colleagues or manager, the company’s culture or your clients — it may be worth looking for a new job instead of a new career. Chances are you enjoy the basic elements of the role, but you just haven’t found exactly the right fit yet. Now that you know what it is you want in a job, you can be more focused about finding your next position.
Mostly C & D’s: Ready to switch careers
If you answered mostly C & D’s, you’ve likely been following the same career path for several years, held multiple similar jobs and have yet to find one that’s fulfilling. You’ve also taken the right steps toward discovering what it is you want to do next. You know that switching careers is a big deal, so instead of rushing into it, you’re doing your research, gaining skills to help you in your new field and making important connections with people in that field. Make sure that when you do make the leap, you’re jumping to a career that you’re passionate about and could see yourself doing for a number of years. While there’s no guarantee you’ll love your new career, making all the necessary preparations should give you a good chance of happiness.
Achieving a smooth transition
Further your skills
While switching careers might seem overwhelming, you owe it to yourself to do something that you enjoy. As you plan your change, consider ways that you can facilitate the process and acquire the skills necessary for the transition. A Professional Diploma is often a great way to further your skills and shift your career trajectory in a different direction. A professional diploma is a short course, usually offered by a reputable university or college, that focuses intensely on a particular study area or skillset. These diplomas take much less time to complete, they are much cheaper than a full degree, and they allow you to customise and “stack” your qualifications specifically for your role.
Read more about realising your career ambitions with a Professional Diploma
Importance of credit bearing programmes when it comes to career change
A word of advice when it comes to choosing a programme to help a career change transition. For individuals researching courses to prepare for a career change, it is almost always best to opt for a credit bearing programme. Credit-bearing programmes have relatively set rules around the amount of work, the time involved, the qualifications of the instructor, and the levels of academic oversight. As a result they are generally more rigorous and will stand up much better to the scrutiny of a potential employer assessing your capability to successfully make the career transition.
In the case of a career change, it is incredibly important to be able to demonstrate to your future employer that you have the skills to be able to make the transition. Our article on university credits and the differences between credit bearing and non credit bearing courses may be useful.
Leverage Digital Credentials
Digital Credentials are a great way to show potential employers that you have the skills they need. Digital credentials can take many different forms, from badges to certificates to courses. They can help you stand out from the crowd and prove that you have the skills and qualifications needed for the job. In most cases, mid-career professionals will have several years experience to be able to demonstrate to a future employer that they can do the job. This will not necessarily be the case for a career changer. Digital credentials can give employers peace of mind that they’re hiring someone who is qualified and has the ability to do the job.
In this article we examine Digital Credentials and what has led to their increasing popularity among employers and ambitious professionals.
Get your CV and cover letter in shape
If you aren’t sure how to write a CV or have not been actively job searching for some time, our ultimate guide to CV writing will answer all your questions. With only 2% of CVs making it past the first round, it is more important than ever to be up to date with the latest tips and tricks. This how to write a CV guide outlines the most important building blocks for creating a job-winning, attention-grabbing CV.
While always something to pay close attention to, a stand-out cover letter is never more important than when it comes to making a career change. It plays a critical role in complementing your job application by expanding on your skills and achievements and highlighting a selection of your greatest career successes. It also provides an opportunity to provide context to your career move and expand on the actions that you have taken to prepare for the change. Our cover letter writing article contains all the letter writing tips and hacks to boost your chances of landing a job.