One of the key things that stops people changing their career is that they do not know where to start. Often, even people who are fairly unhappy will stick with a job or career because it seems to difficult to do anything about it and they haven’t got the skills that they’d gain from talking with a career professional.
In last week’s blog I shared 5 key reasons why It's Never too Late to Change Career. In this blog I’m going to share my top tips to getting started with a career change.
We often define ourselves and others by job titles and industries. Once we’ve been working in a career for a while, especially if that’s in the same organisation, we start to think that’s all we can do. I hear clients say things like “I’m just a project manager, that’s all I know”. Firstly, nobody is “just” anything and secondly, “project manager” is a job title, not who they are. It’s the context within which they use their skills.
The first thing for you to do is write a list of everything you do in your job (the big things, the small things, the things about which you say “it’s just part of my job”). For each of those things, think about how you do it, step by step. It is often useful to imagine that you are teaching someone else how to do it. Then, if you look at the detail, you will find all of the different skills you used and qualities you displayed. These are your transferable skills and qualities.
This is the bit that most people forget.
Write a list of everything that is important to you about work. It is a very personal thing, but could include things like:
You might end up with a very short list, or a very long one, but ask yourself which are your top 8. For each of these (they tend to be your driving “values”), work out how you’ll know when it’s being met in just the way you like: what do you see, hear and/or feel?
Once you know your work values and which skills and qualities you like using, you’ve got a profile for an ideal role. Compare it with what you are doing now. If you’re less than happy in your current role, this will probably help you to understand why.
I’ve got two great ways for you to generate your career options.
Firstly - Career Brain Dump
Find somewhere quiet to sit with a pen and paper. Now start writing a list of what you might do if you could do anything. Don’t judge any of the ideas on whether they are possible or what you might earn or anything else. Simply write that list.
Put down jobs you might do, industries you might like to work in, even environments that appeal
Think about what your friends do and who they do it for. Does that add anything to your list?
Think about what you are drawn to on TV, the internet or in magazines. Does that trigger any thoughts of things to add to your list?
Now, put your list aside for a day or so and then come back and look at it objectively. Look at each thing and imagine yourself actually doing it over a period of time. Can you really imagine it? Would you really enjoy it? Is it feasible given any study you may have to do? The idea is to start whittling the list down until you only have three or four options remaining.
Now you have a manageable number of options to do some serious research into.
Secondly - Sort Your Future
Another way is to use this new (and free!) system called Sort Your Future. It was launched to employers in late 2019 and to job seekers early this year. I was lucky enough to have access to some pre-launch versions as well as the live system you see now.
I think this is a game changer for anyone trying to make a career decision, whether they are still studying and considering their first career or later on in a career and thinking about a change. Maybe you?
It allows you to build a profile based on things you’re interested in, things you like and industry preferences. The system then presents you with options, short information videos, and links to employers. The great thing is that it’s interactive and you can change and vary your preferences to look at different options.
I shared it with a career coaching colleague. She built her profile and not only did it suggest the role that she’s doing now, but also the thing she wanted to do 40 years ago when she left school; and would have if her parents hadn’t steered her into banking.
I think that this fills a gap in the toolset of job seekers so I’m very happy to recommend you to go to try it for yourself:
In fact, it would be interesting to see how that compares with your Career Brain Dump, and what thoughts that prompts for you.
By-the-way, I notice that they are also an affiliate organisation to The Career Development Institute, the UK’s professional body for Career Development Professionals, which says a lot about them.
Once you know your skills, qualities, and values, in other words what an ideal job is for you, and you have your three or four options ready to explore, you’re set to go.
Think about who you know online or offline who could either directly give you information about any of those options, or introduce you to someone who could. At this stage, it’s not about approaching anyone to ask for a job, you want to be asking them to spare you 10 or 15 minutes to help you with your research, to help you understand how your skills/qualities might fit in.
Ask them questions about the good things and bad things, how they got to be where they are, what sort of roles might fit your skillset. Try to understand how that setting might fulfil your work values. Always ask them for referrals: who else do they know who they could introduce you to who could further help with your research.
This exploration will help you to narrow down which option you want to follow next.
Remember, it’s about your next career step, not the whole of the rest of your life.
If you’ve followed the first four tips, you are well in the swing of taking actions and working out where you want to take your career next. So, what are the next steps.
Firstly you will need to produce a CV, so make sure that you choose the most appropriate style:
You can download templates for free from Dave Cordle CV Templates.
Or, if you want to follow a step-by-step course to help you with every aspect of your CV, click How to Create a CV That Works course which includes bonus material on cover letters and accessing the job market.
Then you will need to know how to take it to the job market using your network (recruiters are rarely helpful to people trying to change career), and how to interview comfortably, confidently and successfully. These are big topics in themselves so we won’t cover them here.
Remember that if you want help with any aspect of your career (topics mentioned here or anything else), engage a properly qualified Career Development Professional such as myself.
You can find and search the official UK Register of Career Development Professionals at The Career Development Institute.
You wouldn’t go to an unqualified Dentist or Doctor (would you?) and you are unlikely to go to an untrained hairdresser to have your hair cut. You probably engage a whole load of other professionals to make your life run smoothly. So, when it comes to your career, engage a professional, rather than an amateur.
After all, isn't that what pays for everything else?
Wishing you a successful and happy week
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