I know what it’s like to hate your job. I’ve been there: tired, bored, stressed because your skills aren’t suited to your role… it’s not a good place to be. But did I complain about it? No, not once (well…except to my boyfriend, close friends, and anyone else who would listen). But then I changed careers; I went from working in the hospitality industry to working in PR, and I’m SO unbelievably glad I did.
This post is intended not only as a textual shushing-finger-to-the lips as you start to complain about your job, but also a handy guide to doing something about it. Read on for the whys and hows of a successful career change, and (hopefully) be inspired to get things moving so you’re a step closer to loving what you do.
“When you know what you want, you will find you will become so much more focused, creative and resourceful.” -Jo Orgill, Speaker & Coach
This statement was made during the Guardian Professional’s recent career change clinic and it really resonated with me. Perhaps it rings true with you too. But the real question is: how do you begin to change your career?
Ms. Orgill suggests making two lists: one of all the things you want your career to have, be and include, and one of all the things you don’t want it to have, be or include.
Ok, but what about the practicalities of getting there?
Be prepared to “re-train.”
This may be in-house training or it may mean going back into some type of education to meet credibility or licensing requirements, depending on the new career you’ve chosen. To break the catch-22 of needing experience while employers want ready-experienced people, career adviser Hannah Morton Hedges gave the Guardian’s readers a handy tip: “Depending on what it is you want to do, a number of qualifications such as NVQs do offer work experience as part of the course. Check out your local college to see what they have on offer.” Apprenticeships and volunteering are also great ways of getting that all-important experience.
If you’ve been thinking about going back to school as part of your career transition, check out organizational leadership. During my time of transition (aka utter confusion!), I found out that I am really interested in eventually getting an Master’s in Organizational Leadership online. Why? Because I can pursue it while working full time AND every organization needs leadership, right?! This type of degree could make you invaluable to any organization. Just remember that you don’t have to finish your degree to start your career transition.
Be Realistic About Pay
You may have been working for years but when you change careers, you are effectively starting out. You need to align yourself with new graduates, just beginning to seek experience in the field. Therefore, keep your expectations realistic. Of course, if you can show that the experience you’ve gained in your other job/s can translate and set you above graduates in your new role, you may be paid more. In real terms, a career change is quite likely to mean a drop in pay, so you’ll need to consider this carefully and prepare for it.
Be Prepared for Some Tough Interview Questions
“You say a career in this industry is right for you. Why?” Ok, calm down, I know this type of question induces panic in most people, but it’s the kind of thing you’ll have to expect in a career-change interview! The PCA explains that this question is usually asked to check you’ve considered your career change properly, and that you know as much as possible about the industry you’re attempting to crack. Let the interviewer know that you have been interested in this area of work for a long time; for example, if you are looking to switch to a career in interior design at a popular company like Wren, it’s vital to mention any design and organization practice you have, as well as the skills and attributes you possess which mean you are suited to the role you are going for. Provide examples whenever possible!
If the interviewer poses a question about your background as if it is an issue (which is likely if you’re knocking at the door of a completely new career path!) be prepared to identify the training you’ll need to offset your unconventional background, and what steps you are taking towards it, PCA continues.
After all that hard work, look forward to that more focused, creative and resourceful attitude you were promised! Hopefully you will one day look back and feel like it was all worth it!
If you were a career changer, what advice do you have?
What was the toughest and most rewarding part of your career journey?