Considering a career change can be scary. Terrifying, even. It means a complete upheaval of life as you know it, and perhaps taking a huge leap of faith in a direction you’ve never contemplated being in before. You might not even know where to start even if you let yourself dream of a different career.
It doesn’t have to be a distant dream, however. With the right steps and a positive mentality, there’s no reason you can’t find a better career for you, even if means starting completely from scratch during your later life. It’s never too late!
What Are the Signs That You Need a Career Change?
You may have considered a career change, but not realized how badly you need it. Maybe you haven’t allowed yourself to even acknowledge the idea of it. A lot of people may be in denial about how unhappy they are in their current careers, but are too afraid of change and therefore avoid something better.
Here are some of the most important warning signs that you need a change of career.
- You’re constantly complaining: Most people have those days where they complain about their job or feel exhausted after a hard day’s work. There’s nothing wrong with a few bad days within a career – in fact, it’s expected – but if your bad days are every single day, this isn’t a good sign.
- It’s affecting your mental health: Nobody likes the weekend to be over, and most people dread Monday morning, but if your dread has turned into low mood, depression and serious anxiety about returning to work, this is not how it should be, and you need to change it as soon as you can. No job should negatively affect your mental health.
- You have no passion: Sometimes, jobs might be mundane or just something to pay the bills, and that’s okay. You can still enjoy something which might be considered mundane as long as it’s serving a function. If your work has lost absolutely all meaning, however, and you gather no love or passion for it, then you may need something which does.
- You feel trapped with no prospects: If your job has no room for development, no room for promotion, or no room for a pay rise, and you have absolutely nothing new to gain or learn from it, this might be a sign to move on. Feeling trapped within a job which has no future is no way to live.
- You’re constantly overlooked or underappreciated: Perhaps you enjoy your job and work hard, but you’re not treated fairly. If you have always been overlooked for a promotion or pay rise even though you work a lot harder than the person who got the promotion instead, this will only lead to resentment, and you will end up not trying at all. It’s better to go out on a high note and find something else rather than let the negativity build up until it threatens to overspill.
- You’ve thought about it: It sounds simple, but the fact that you’ve actually thought about a different career means that you must not be fully satisfied in your current one. If you were completely happy in your current job, you wouldn’t be daydreaming about an alternative one.
So What Are The Steps to Take in a Career Change?
1. Do Your Research
The most important first step once you have decided that you would like to look for a new career is to find out exactly what you need to do to attain it. Undertaking thorough research into the job you want to go into is crucial for a smooth transition. There is no point wasting time learning a skill set you think you need if it turns you that you, in fact, need quite the opposite. You might already have wasted enough time being in a career you hate, so ensure you don’t waste any more time by taking counterproductive steps towards your new career.
The main items to research are:
- Do you need any extra qualifications?
- Do you need a degree?
- If you already have a degree, do you need a different one?
- Do you need experience?
- What is the typical pay grade for your intended job, and will it be enough for you?
2. Consider Online Learning
If you’ve managed to decide on the alternative career path you would like to go down, but have discovered that you need a completely different degree to what you already have – or perhaps a degree in general if you don’t already have one – then online learning is going to be a valuable tool in enabling you to achieve what you want.
If you have decided that you would like a career change long after the age you would usually attend college, you may not be in a position to return to a learning institution in order to get another degree – especially if you’re holding a full-time job, or perhaps supporting a family. That’s why obtaining an online degree can be the answer to all your problems, and offer a completely flexible learning environment tailored to your lifestyle.
There is never a limit on what you can achieve with online degrees. Even the career paths which you might think are too difficult or demanding, such as law, science or criminology, with years and years of study needed, are still able to be obtained via online learning and a good deal of commitment and motivation. Whatever your requirements, such as criminology programs in Canada, or a Master’s degree in Computer Science in the USA, it’s all achievable. Click here to find out more.
3. Consider Voluntary Work
If your life has been one or more jobs in a particular field, and you, therefore, have no experience in the career field you’re hoping to go into, check whether you can gain beneficial experience from voluntary work. It may be that you can gain unpaid work experience in your chosen area, or perhaps do a few voluntary shifts in an area which will teach you relevant skills needed for your new career. This will work favorably for you in any job applications or interviews, as your new employer will be able to see that you have made an effort enough to undertake voluntary work in your spare time.
4. Arrange Your Personal Life
A new career choice might come with significant sacrifices in your home life. It’s always crucial to have a happy work-life balance, but starting a new career from scratch might mean that your job takes precedence over anything else, at least until you’re on your feet and heading in the right direction.
If you have a family and/or a partner at home, ensure you speak to them about what you’re intending to do, and ensure they understand what is needed from them in terms of support. They may see a lot less of you while you’re trying to find a new career, or you may have to take a cut back in pay until you find exactly what you’re looking for.
5. Consider Relocating
The job market is tough at the best of times, but even more so if you live in a remote area with limited opportunities. There is nothing wrong with commuting, but it’s important to find out where is best to be positioned for the line of work you wish to go into. If your new job has a lot of competition in terms of applicants, the chances are that the person who lives in the area will get hired over the person (which could be you) who has to commute a long way.
Relocation can be another anxiety-inducing thought alongside the idea of a whole new career, too, but if it’s all-important steps towards the life you want, then it’s worth it. Relocation is something which should be discussed with your loved ones, if it would affect them, too.
6. Develop Your Network
You may have heard the phrase it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Certain career paths are more attainable if you have a lot of valuable contacts within them. It’s important to be present on social media channels and professional websites filled with people in the same career area that you wish to go in.
You may also want to attend certain networking events where you can meet the type of people you wish to go into business with. This is also a valuable tool in gathering information and advice from professional people who have already done it, and who have lessons they can pass along to you.
Alternatively, if your career change is a different role within a company you already work for, you could put a word in with a senior individual you trust, explaining that you would like to be put forward for a particular role, should it become available. You never know, they might just put in a good word for you if you have a great record and get along well with them.
7. Don’t Let a Lower Income Deter You
A lot of people remain in jobs they dislike due to a high income. While it’s important to ensure you have enough money for your livelihood, especially if you have a family to support, it’s also important to not subject yourself to a dead-end job just for the pay grade. If money is all you’re searching for, then that’s okay, but if you truly want a career you’re passionate about, then you may have to sacrifice a little on the money – at least in the beginning.
When you’re starting a new career from scratch, it may be that entry-level positions pay a lot less than the position you’re one day hoping to achieve. As long as you have the motivation and the means, there’s no reason you can’t work your way up the ladder and achieve the amount of income you hope one day to accomplish – and maybe more.
If you do have to take a pay cut while developing your new career, ensure you implement beneficial budgeting strategies into your life.
8. Consider Working for Yourself
Perhaps the career change you had in mind isn’t necessarily a change of job area, but a change of boss. Maybe you’re tired of working set hours for somebody else, without the possibility of promotion, and perhaps you’d like more flexibility in your working hours.
Starting up your own business or beginning a new source of self-employed income for yourself is a smart business move if it’s what you want. There are, of course, many risks involved with working for yourself, but that comes as granted with every new job you might explore. What matters is that it’s worth the risk, if it’s what you want.
Things to consider when deciding if you should start your own business are:
- Can you commit the time needed? Working for yourself certainly enables more flexibility in hours, but when you’re just starting out, you may end up working a lot more hours than you originally were in an employed position. It’s also hard to know when to stop when you’re working for yourself, so it’s important to know how many hours are expected of you to achieve your own business set-up.
- Can you manage your income? Working for yourself or starting your own business means there is never a set annual income, and you need to ensure that you can cope with that. You need to know exactly what you’re spending, how you’re spending it, and how much money you need to make, and by when. It’s a good idea to get financial advice if needed.
- Research your market. To start a successful business, you need to ensure that there is a market for it. You need to ensure that before you make any giant leaps towards quitting your secure job and opening up your own, that there is actually a market and consumers ready for your business.
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