It’s estimated that over half of Australians are dissatisfied with their jobs, which explains why so many people are considering a career change. From workplace stress, poor culture, not feeling valued, lack of professional development to poor job engagement and, of course, financial considerations, there are many reasons why one might think of leaving a career or company and transition to something else. In fact, it’s now very unusual for anyone to stay in one job their entire working lives.
The good news is that it’s entirely possible to successfully switch careers, whatever age you may be. It’s important for your health, too—job dissatisfaction leads to health issues including burnout and even depression. However, the key to switching careers and gaining further success lies in the planning, and there are a few things you must do before you make the change, such as the steps listed below.
Tips to Consider before a Career Change
Consider What You Really Want and Need
Job dissatisfaction can lead to frustration, and frustration can lead to hasty, regrettable choices. It’s been said that you should be ‘running towards something, not away from something’—if you’re taking a job just to get out of your current one, it won’t make you happier in the longer term, and you might end up regretting your decision.
Think about what you truly want and need in terms of the career path you want to pursue. Is it a more comfortable salary, professional development, progression opportunities, culture, flexible hours, or a sense of fulfilling your purpose? You can only reach a goal if you understand what it is that you want. Spend time really getting to know yourself, your strengths and development areas, and your ambitions. Write down the ‘must haves’ you want in a job and company, and the ‘job dissatisfiers’ i.e. what you don’t like about a role. This will help you arrive at the right decision.
Find Your Passion
If you’re changing careers, invest time in identifying what makes you happy in life and relate it to your career path and goals for the future. Explore diverse options on how to make money doing something which sets your spirit on fire. Whether it’s starting your own business or moving into a completely different industry sector, don’t settle for anything less than a job you think you would enjoy and make you happy.
As Marla Gottschalk, CEO of The Pampered Chef, says, “Find your passion and a mission you believe in. When you feel like you make a difference in people’s lives, it becomes so much more than a job. For example, I know family mealtimes are vitally important. So, it is very motivating to lead an organisation focused on that.” Finding something that you love doing and also more than adequately pays the bills might be challenging, but it certainly is not impossible!
Know You Deserve What You Want
Alexandra Lebenthal, President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company states that, “Women often find it hard to ask for things, whether it’s a business opportunity or a salary raise. We simply expect others to recognise our value and hard work.
Asking for what you want in a gracious, thoughtful way often results in getting what you want, so put your fears aside and ask for what you want.” My mantra is “Don’t ask, don’t get.”
Don’t settle for anything less than what will make you happy, and you’ll make a smarter, better-informed decision when it comes to changing careers. Take Catherine, for example. Once a stay-at-home mother, she obtained a law degree at age 59 and now practices as a successful Lawyer. It’s never too late, and you deserve to get what you want.
Find Like-Minded People
Gathering intel on a new sector or industry is the most effective way to inform your job or career search. Attend networking opportunities that fit your target job, company and industry sector choices, and LinkedIn is a great place to start your research. Find out what to really expect from an industry, if you need more qualifications and/or skills, and how many opportunities there are. Time spent researching is never wasted; it’s a great way to find out about the market, discover or create opportunities and avoid making mistakes in career choices.
Not sure which networking events to sign up for? As a woman, Women-only events give you a unique insight into an industry from a peer’s perspective. Gain an understanding on everything from promotional and professional opportunities to workplace flexibility. Networking events can even lead to mentoring opportunities, and who better to help you navigate a new career than someone with experience who has navigated the path themselves.
Don’t Leave Your Current Job Without Securing Your New Role
Potential employers are suspicious of candidates with gaps on resumes which aren’t easily explained. It’s often easier to be hired while you’re still employed. Even if your current job is frustrating, use the time productively to plan, research and develop broader networks. I.e. use your energy in a positive manner to benefit you in the long term and avoid focussing on what depletes your energy. Making a hasty decision could lead to financial instability, lack of preparation and possibly choosing the wrong job and career out of desperation.
If you’re really convinced about changing careers, spend time wisely and productively by updating your CV so that at any time an opportunity exists, you are ready to apply. Highlight your key transferable skills and what value you add to any organisation, highlighting what makes you stand out i.e. your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP). In addition, detail what your core competencies and capabilities are which may include how you develop strategies, grow business, lead teams, deal with stakeholders and handle problems or situations that are relevant to the new career or position you’re aiming for. This will make your business or career background more attractive in terms of the new path you want to pursue.
Looking for a Fresh Start?
If you’re looking for a new beginning in your career or business, we at Behind Closed Doors can help you. Behind closed doors is a leading national network of businesswomen who support and guide each other, aiming to elevate women when it comes to professional development. We have networking and mentoring opportunities that will match you with fellow members who will mentor you and help you reach your goals and aspirations. Want to know more? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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