Working Transitions

The times they are a-changing - how to forge a new career path

After 31 years with the Financial Times, the award-winning columnist and associate editor, Lucy Kellaway, is leaving the newspaper to pursue a career in teaching.   Despite her evident success at the paper Kellaway confirms “I’ve had one of the nicest jobs in journalism – I love it – but I don’t want to spend my entire life doing it”.

It takes a certain amount of conviction – and courage – to turn your back on a successful career to forge an alternative path but, pursuing an unfulfilled ambition can be energising and revitalising.  As the saying goes – "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

At 57,  Kellaway has vast experience and a raft of transferrable skills which will be invaluable in her new career.  However, regardless of age and background, as long as you are realistic about limitations, think it through carefully and plan it well, a career change can lend new purpose and meaning to life.  These tips will ensure that you handle yours in the best way possible for you.

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, and this means that 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.

Take courage

Changing your career may seem like a big step but rather than feeling daunted, focus on the reasons that you’re making the move and all of the positive factors associated with it. It can help to talk to your friends and family about what you’re doing, as people who aren’t quite as emotionally involved will be better able to work out whether your fears are realistic or whether you’re simply overthinking the situation. Mind-set shift is the key to behaviour change so start researching and talking to others who  have made this change as this will help you to think positively and bring about a better outcome overall.

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 could 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


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Working Transitions
02 December 2016
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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