By Jonathan London on 9th September 2015

Looking for a career change – your options

The hectic pace of modern professional life is such that for a lot of people, an average workday consists of waking up, grafting for a certain number of hours, before clocking off with very little time for introspection.

In many ways, this kind of close focus on your day-to-day schedule can be a good thing, allowing you to tackle obstacles as they come instead of fixating on long-term variables. However, it’s equally important to take the blinkers off once in a while and make sure you’re still moving in the direction you want to travel.

If you find that this isn’t the case any more, it may be time to start thinking about looking for a career change. This can be an extremely daunting prospect for many, especially those who have been in the same job for most or all of their lives, as changing jobs can often lead to substantial professional and personal upheaval.

However, switching career can also be a hugely rewarding or even life-affirming move, potentially getting you from a job you dislike into one you can feel passionate and proud about. As such, it’s worth considering all your options carefully in order to come to the right decision.

What are your options?

For those working in full-time salaried roles, changing jobs can be tricky due to the need to give notice to your current employer, and ideally to have a new role lined up. That might mean switching to another salaried position at another company, going alone by pursuing a career as a freelancer, or even starting your own limited company.

For those who are already self-employed, you’ll have greater freedom in terms of when and how you change the way you work, but many of the key questions and challenges remain the same. Do you want to fulfil a different role in the same field – ie, switching from an advisory or oversight-based role to something more hands-on, or vice-versa? Or are you seeking a completely fresh start in a field you haven’t previously explored in a professional capacity?

If it’s the latter, that might well mean hitting the reset button on your career in a sense, putting you back at the bottom of a new ladder, with a commensurate decrease in status or pay. However, it may be that the ultimate rewards of making the switch – whether that be in terms of financial compensation or personal achievement – are worth taking that initial hit.

What questions do you need to ask?

In order to make sure you come to the decision that is right for you, it’s important to consider a number of key questions to allow you to make the best possible choice of new career.

  • Why do I want to change career? – This question will allow you to identify the specific aspects of your current job or professional path that are making you feel unfulfilled, allowing you to figure out what direction you want to move in next. The answer to this question will determine whether the problem is a specific aspect of your current work situation, or a broader dissatisfaction with the field you’re in.
  • What are my skills and interests? – This question will help you work out what specific abilities you’ll be able to offer in your new job, as well as the things you’re passionate about. This will make it easier to find a career that will excite you, in which you will be seen as a valuable asset.
  • What do I want out of a new career? – Setting clear and achievable goals is vital for any major project, and this is no different. You’ll need to figure out where you want to get to, how much money you’ll want to earn, and what it will take to make you happy – if you aren’t able to define this, you risk jumping from one unsatisfying job to another.
  • Am I prepared to accept the time and money investment this requires? – Changing careers can sometimes be a costly process. Sometimes, the expense can come in the form of a need to retrain or go back to school; at other times, it might mean accepting a reduced salary for some time as you work your way back up. You need to be willing and able to accept this if your career change is to be a success.
  • Do I have the support of those around me? – No man is an island, and that’s true even when you’re moving into self-employment. Before you make the leap, you need to make sure you’ll have access to all of the support you might require while making the transition, and that friends or family members who may be reliant upon you are as ready and willing as you are to go through the process.

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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