Taking a path less trodden
How do you feel when you wake up on a workday? Happy, positive and raring to get to work? Or disillusioned and unfulfilled?
If it’s the latter, you are not alone. Around 40% of us are not happy with our jobs or career paths and would dearly love a change – not just to another company, but to another career entirely.
You might associate a dramatic change of direction with Millennials, and indeed, 25% of this demographic are keen to switch careers. This is usually because they want to expand their skills or gain a higher level of flexibility in their working.
But the desire for change affects all age groups. Over 45s are one of the largest groups planning to switch careers in the next two years.
What’s the motivation for change?
It can be many things, but usually, it’s not money. You may want a better work/home balance. Or you have a passion you want to explore more. Perhaps you’ve reached a point where you want to use your brain to learn new skills.
Give some thought to the type of work that you might want to change to. You want to find a job that is deeply satisfying, not just fun for a short time.
Where to start
Many people know they want to change but have no idea how to change – or even what they want to change to! This is a very common situation.
First, you need to accept this is going to be something of a journey. A dramatic change of direction will not happen overnight. You may have some false starts. And secondly, you have to face your fears. Common reservations include loss of salary or status. Worrying about others’ reactions. Being concerned about leaving an industry you know and moving to the unknown. It can be scary.
So here are our five top tips that may help you to find some clarity and take the first steps on a path to change:
1. Dip your toe
If you have an idea about what you’d like to try, but you are, like many people, not at all sure, find a way to test your idea without leaving your current job. Working in finance but always fancied interior design? Think about how to try it out first. That could be taking an on-line or evening course, finding a local company to volunteer with at the weekends or practising on friends or family. You might find it’s a career you want to pursue, or that you simply enjoy it as a hobby or that, actually, it’s not for you. Whatever the result, you now know rather than wonder.
2. Find some allies
If you were about to climb Everest, the chances are you wouldn’t set out alone. It would be a journey that would be a lot easier and more comfortable with a few others around you. So, find out if there are there any of your colleagues that feel the same as you. Talk about your thoughts with friends and family with whom you might not normally discuss work. Attend courses and network events. The aim is to try and find different connections that in turn, lead to different ideas.
3. Develop contacts
Whilst traditional job-hunting methods can be very successful, often employers prefer applicants with a close fit in experience to the job spec. If you have no experience in a sector, it can be hard to be taken seriously.
When making a real change, you may need to think outside the box. Ben Casnocha is a young American entrepreneur who has written books and started and successfully runs several companies. In one of his best sellers he makes a great statement:-
“Opportunities (are) attached to people. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for a person.”
Look for ways to set up meetings or phones calls with people who have jobs that sound interesting. LinkedIn may be a good starting point. By finding your allies as mentioned in point 2, they may be able to introduce you to others with whom you can start to build relationships. Don’t get despondent – you will probably go down lots of dead ends on the journey to the contact who helps you find your dream job.
4. Take action
You’ve probably heard of the Chinese proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Look for ways to take steps toward your desired new role.
For example, let’s say you work in finance, but you really want to work in sports journalism. Instead of applying for the end job you want, think about how you could take steps towards it. Apply for finance jobs in sports organisations so that you get to know and build contacts in the industry. Take a part-time course in journalism and start writing blogs to develop your skills. Build up your experience in different elements of the job until you feel confident you can bring them all together for the end goal.
5. Get expert advice
It’s well worth thinking about working with a career coach if you are thinking about a complete change of direction. Someone who will guide you, give you advice, and push you to take action. A great coach will help you identify and address the beliefs you have about yourself that are holding you back and work with you to create a plan to take you to where you want to go.
So, are you ready to take a path less trodden?