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Thinking of a career change?

Posted by: Mark Burslem

Have you ever looked at a friend and thought, “their job looks fun, I wouldn’t mind trying that”? Maybe you see a neighbour with a luxurious new car and think “I wonder what they do”. If you compare yourself against others on an average Monday morning, the grass might look greener. But before you jump headfirst into a new career, do your research and read this blog to sidestep the common mistakes people make when switching jobs.

Differentiate between your job and your career

When you work in a job you don’t like, you can easily confuse this with disliking your current career and the industry you work in. Take the time to analyse the real reasons why you don’t enjoy your current job. Write a list of what’s making you unhappy and then re-read over it again. Make a mark next to the points on the list that are to do with your job, like location or the company culture, and then make a mark in a different colour against the points that are to do with the industry, like the working hours or the people. For these issues, ask yourself if you worked for a different company, would they still exist? If you are finding you have more issues that are industry specific rather than job related, that could tell you a career change would make you happier.

Do your research

We often have a romantic idea about an industry we’ve never worked in. Think about teaching – is it all inspiring children to stand on their desks and recite poetry like a 2020 Robin Williams in The Dead Poet’s Society? Or is a huge part of the job disciplining unruly youngsters and paperwork? The only way of making proper judgement is by researching the career thoroughly. A good first step is to get in touch with people that work in an industry you’re curious about. Reach out on LinkedIn or network through friends and family members that you trust. See if you can do some unpaid work experience. Even just volunteering for a day might give you an insight into the reality of a new job. Look on job advertising boards and read relevant job descriptions. Be realistic about what you’re reading. Some of it will sound fun, but if there are parts that don’t appeal to you or don’t match your skill set, will you really succeed in this kind of position?

Sit down and make two lists, one which shows the skills you need for the new job you’re covering and the other with your experience, strengths and skills. Then draw lines between the lists to see where both sides complement each other. The greater the number of connections you make, the more likely you’ll be suitable for your new career. If you notice a skills gap, further learning can help bridge the gap. Invest in becoming an expert in your chosen field. Read books about it, listen to podcasts and subscribe to publications. A lot of these methods are free or low cost, meaning you aren’t at risk of investing in a career that isn’t right for you.

Be realistic about money

Some industries, such as oil and gas, can seem very alluring due to the high salaries and perks offered, but try and be careful of making a career change based solely on money. You could potentially end up paying the price for it. A high paid role often comes with a lot more responsibility or pressure. The demands on you might increase, giving you less of a work-life balance. If you’re truly invested in your career and at a stage in your life where you’re work focused, this might not put you off, but remember that high salaries come after hard work and experience has earned it and won’t happen overnight. In fact, if you move into a new career, you may move into a low paid entry level position and find yourself earning less than before.

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