We spend around a third of our lives at work – therefore ensuring that our chosen career is both rewarding and fulfilling is vital. Some people know exactly what their vocation is – regardless of whether they have yet to fulfil it. For others, a niggling doubt exists that their current role is not what they want to be doing – but they struggle to figure out exactly what it is that they want to do.
January is an ideal time to make a career change. Feeling refreshed and invigorated after the holidays can help you make difficult decisions and drive your new job campaign. The ‘fresh start effect’ is not just true for individuals - many organisations have recruitment budgets that come into play in January and key decisions around recruitment that have been put on hold during the Christmas lull are revisited resulting in an increase in vacancies. For those looking to make a complete U-Turn, it is also a good time to start looking at options for studying – many colleges and learning centres offer a refreshed list of courses and open days for the New Year.
Of course, deciding what it is that you want to do is just the first step of the process. Over the coming weeks we will explore how you can assess your skills and strengths to help you decide upon your perfect career, provide tips and advice on creating a stand-out CV, explore the hidden job market and the benefits of networking and help you perform your very best at Interview.
STEP 1 - DECIDING UPON YOUR NEXT MOVE
Regardless of whether you know what you want to do next or not, having a really strong grasp of your skills and strengths is essential. Many people struggle to acknowledge their positive attributes – however, in order to be successful, it is vital to take time to concentrate on you and what makes you unique – after all, if you cannot recognise your own skills and strengths, how can others be expected to?
It may help to jot down previous roles you have held and the key skills (abilities acquired over time eg Marketing, Selling) and strengths (personality traits or characteristics eg. reliable, friendly) that helped you to perform the role effectively.
Don’t rush into it!
No matter what you’re hoping to do, whether you want a new job, a change of scene, or you want to completely retrain for a new career, you should make sure that you have thought your options through properly. It can be easy to make the wrong decision if you do it on the spur of the moment, so careful thought is essential. Take the time to consider your career path so far, your transferable skills, who in your network might be able to help you, options for different work patterns, routes to a new career – you don’t have to stop doing one thing and start immediately on another - you can often start something in your own time to test the water, or explore alternative ways of working one day per week by going part time. It’s amazing how many ways there are to make a change when you really start to explore the options, so take your time.
Understand what you’re searching for
At different times in our lives we need different things. Think about what you need in order for you to be happy right now and where you are in your life at the moment. Be aware that it isn’t about how much money you might be earning (though obviously you need to make sure that it’ll pay the bills) but rather about the life experience that you have already and what you will gain from your job change. It is always important to be able to further develop the skills that you already have, in addition to developing new ones, and a career change could help with both personal and professional skills. There are many free on line tests that can help you explore career preferences so get googling.
Ask for expert help
Although you may think that you know what you want to do in your life, it can help to hear the opinions of someone detached from the situation, such as a career coach or a trusted mentor. They will help you to compare your options and can help to open your mind to things that you might not even have considered before now. The insights offered by other people can be incredibly valuable - by talking to a professional you may be able to structure your thinking into a practical set of actions that move you towards your goal.
Be realistic and try to be flexible
Although there are many options open to you – even if you want to completely retrain into another profession - you always need to ensure that you are being realistic about your situation. For example, you may be able to attend a postgraduate degree course to learn a completely new subject which would take perhaps two years to study before entering into a new place of work. However, it may be unrealistic to expect to take a path that would require you to begin right from GCSE level onwards if you don’t hold the correct early qualifications. That’s not to say that going so far back is never possible – but it is vital to understand the timeline that your career change would take, so that you can plan your journey.