Interview tips from the experts
August 22, 2017
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How to: Change careers

Don’t use it as an excuse to run away 

OK, so you can’t stand your boss/colleagues/company (delete where applicable).

But before you start searching for the fastest possible escape route, always make an attempt to fix your situation first – whether it’s by attempting to repair relationships, expanding on your skills, or working on your professional development.

And if you’ve already tried all of the above, it might just be a change of scenery you need, rather than something completely different. Especially if there are still elements of your role that you enjoy.

So don’t let unhappiness cloud your judgment. There’s a big difference between moving on for the right reasons, and running away.

Consider your finances

Changing careers might mean taking a pay cut – especially if you’ve been in your current career for a long time.

So, being financially prepared to (potentially) start from the bottom is essential.

Firstly, find out what the salary expectations for your new career will be, so you can understand exactly how much you’ll need for a smooth transition. Then, make the necessary changes in advance – whether it’s adding to your savings accordingly, or looking at ways to supplement your income.

Although it might take a bit more time to get where you need to be, ensuring you’re in the right place financially will mean your new career search won’t come with any extra pressure.

Evaluate what you can offer

Once you’ve decided a career change is a viable solution – you need to work out how to sell yourself to potential employers.

The key to standing out when changing careers is how well you can communicate your skills, no matter what your background is. In other words, understanding exactly why and how you’re suitable.

Start by making a list of your stand-out skills and experience, and research potential roles that require these abilities – even if it’s only on some small level. Think transferable skills, and you’ll be on the right track.

Being realistic with your expertise is also a great way to ensure your choice is suitable. Some roles may seem like they require certain attributes, but you might find they involve something entirely different after a bit of digging.

Figure out what you want

Finding your dream job means more than simply utilising your skills. You also have to figure out what you actually enjoy doing, where you want to do it, and what kind of environment suits you best.

And because there’s more to a job than just a title and a description, it’s essential to take all factors into account before jumping at the first (seemingly) attractive vacancy.

For example, perhaps you find a job that, on the surface, seems perfect for you. You match the person specification and the benefits are good. But the role involves a lot of isolated working, not to mention a longer commute – two of the biggest reasons for leaving your current role.

In a case like this, this job probably isn’t as perfect as it seems. So always prioritise what’s really important to you first to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Remember: the first opportunity that comes up won’t always be the right one.

Act instead of analyse

Once you’ve figured out what you (think) you want to do – it’s time to take action.

Although it might be tempting to over-analyse each aspect of your dream job, realising there’s an open possibility is just the beginning. You actually need to start acting on it.

That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and jump into something straight away though. Instead, test ideas whilst you’re still at your current job to get an idea of what actually suits you – in terms of working environment and job role.

Because whether it’s by taking a course, volunteering,  or by gaining insights from friends in your preferred field – there are many ways to test the waters without diving into a new job at the deep end.

That way, you’ll be able to make sure your career change is worth it – and, more importantly, actually right for you.


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