In this article we explore four career planning tips to help you make a successful career change.
If you’re thinking about making a career change it’s wise to consider a number of important factors to help you plan for this exciting, and somewhat daunting, season in your life. I began my career change after having two children. I wanted more flexible and meaningful work. I’d changed, and so my career direction needed to change too.
It’s my hope that these four tips will help you begin to take action as you work through your ideas, thought and emotions about navigating your career change.
1. Plan for More Than a Change in Job Title
When you’re thinking about your next career move, particularly if it is a change in direction, I recommend you think hard about the criteria of requirements that will meet your needs. While your job title is likely to change, there are many other dimensions to consider, including:
- How much you want to earn?
- What new and emerging industries are you interesting in exploring?
- How important are the values of the organisation you work for?
- What sort of work environment do you want to work in (e.g. inside/ outside, with people / alone)?
- Which flexible work options are important to you? (e.g. hybrid, remote, etc)
- What types of work do you want to focus on in your role?
- What types of people do you want to work with? (e.g. researchers, sales people, marketers, volunteers, etc)
2. Tune into the Hidden Job Market
The hidden job market refers to the jobs and opportunities that are not advertised on job sites or listed with recruiters. It may surprise you that many jobs are not advertised. This is because many businesses either have a succession plan (someone else lined up as the replacement) or will ask their personal networks ‘who do they know?’ before they invest money in a job ad or recruitment agency. What this means is that you need to ask everyone you know about what jobs or opportunities they know about. The better your criteria for what you’re looking for, the more productive this exercise is.
For example, when people ask you ‘how are you?’, perhaps steer the conversation towards your current exploration of opportunities they might be able to help you with. Especially if they are family and friends! Tell them you are well and thinking about exploring roles in ‘insert type of industry‘ and ‘insert top 1-2 criteria‘ and see where this leads you. Most people generally know someone who is looking for a team member or may have seen a recent job advertised on LinkedIn that suits your transferrable skills.
Action: The more people you inform that you are exploring alternative career paths, the more chance an opportunity will open up via your personal networks.
3. Research Industries that Interest You
Most people have a good idea of what they’d ‘like to do next’ but tend to keep these thoughts to themselves. Making your next career move, especially if it involves a career change, is a project you need to invest time in. It does not have to be overwhelming, but is something you should give attention to and gradually chip away at, if you are serious about making a change.
Action: Make a list of the industries you are interested in learning more about.
You then need to consider who you know in these industries and arrange to have them over for dinner or shout them a coffee or drink and pick their brains. Be brave and talk to friends you know who work in the industries you’re interested in and ask lots of questions. Explain you are in ‘research mode’ and would value their opinion.Where do they think the industry is heading? Where do they believe the opportunities are? Based on what they know about your skills and experience, what types of roles do they think would suit you?
Experience has taught me that most people enjoy helping anyone who’s being proactive and researching their options.
4. Consider Re-training or Up-skilling
Depending on the career change and industries you are exploring, you may be required to re-train or up-skill. This helps you expand your skill bank and, in some cases, may be a great way to future proof your career opportunities by developing skills that are sought after by employers. It may also be a way to help you move into a role or industry with greater earning potential.
Research the qualifications that are required to work in the industries you are considering. Information is power and the more you can equip yourself with the facts, the more successful your career change will be.