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Changing Careers: Where To Begin?

If you’ve sat at your desk for years fantasizing about taking a new path in life, then it might just be time to start seriously considering how to make a move. It’s unlikely that we’ll all stay in the same job, in the same industry for the entirety of our working lives. However, it can be such a financial risk, to begin with that many are too scared to take the plunge.

There’s no shame in admitting that your current career path isn’t what you’d entirely hoped for and that you’d like to move on to a new industry entirely. Before you do so, telling family and friends about your choice should hopefully drum up some encouragement and some advice – you may not be alone in having decided to change careers.

Take small steps first

Taking small steps first are what will prevent any financial or professional slip-ups that could be caused by hasty decision making. If you have reservations about your new career path, take your time in figuring out what these anxieties are. Here are some good questions to ask yourself before you start taking larger steps:

  1. Will your new commute be unbearable?
  2. Will it suit your current lifestyle?
  3. Will your current lifestyle have to make a drastic change?
  4. Are you not entirely sure if you’ll be happy in the new position – if so, why?
  5. What are your long-term goals? Will a new job throw these off?
  6. What’s the retirement plan like? Will it affect your family?
  7. Will you have enough annual leave in the new industry to spend time with your family?

Some of these may seem trivial, but after six months or being miserable in your new job you may start to think otherwise. Taking the time to find out what really matters to you and your family before you jump ship could be the difference to a blossoming new career and a new source of frustration. It’s recommended that you investigate whether the new industry is likely to offer health plans – an absolute must if your family doesn’t have the collective funds to pay for healthcare.

Just annoyed at your current employer?

It’s also worth asking yourself if you’ve made this decision because you’re not happy in your current job. Taking the time to reflect over whether you’ve made this decision out of resentment or genuine passion is a hard but necessary question to ask yourself. If you feel that you’re not quite done with your current industry then job hunting for something slightly, but not entirely, different might be worth investigating.

It’s also advised to take a little time off on vacation before you start plotting your big move. If it is your current boss or company that’s making your feel exhausted or like your current industry isn’t right for you, it’s better to discover this now rather than later. After a few weeks of peace and enjoyment, you might start to reassess what the real problem is.

Don’t listen to your inner saboteur

If you’ve been finding the voluntary work a bit more tricky than expected, or some family members aren’t entirely happy with your decision, it’s all too easy to think “I’m not sure I can really do this.” Find the strength to follow your passion and pursue the career you will truly enjoy, and you will be surprised at how more enthused you will be to go to work.

Be prepared do some evening classes

Starting all over can come with some associated risks: a reduction in salary, anxious family members and a stressful first few months. To ensure that you’re prepared for your new career choice, educate yourself as much as possible on top of any experience. Educating yourself doesn’t just mean Googling all the cons and pros of your potential work path, however. Becoming fully qualified may mean undertaking a new qualification or learning an entirely new set of skills.

For example, if your big dream is becoming a head of Human Resources, it’s very unlikely that an HR department will hire you as an assistant without some of the fundamental training first. Therefore, it’s wise to get your Master of HR management degree before you start approaching companies with your resume. Although gaining a new qualification can feel like a long-winded process, it will be well worth the employability that will come with it.

Network as much as possible

If you’ve only ever fantasized about your prospective new career, it might be hard to imagine what a day in the life of in your prospective job might look like. Going to trade fairs to associate with people in your chosen industry is an incredibly wise idea. Chatting and engaging with people who work in your dream sector will not only give you a clear sense of what your job with be like, but it will also impress those in the industry you want to join. Showing a keenness and willingness to do everything it takes might just get you some employment in the future if you play your cards right.

Take up voluntary work

Having a side-job, or a voluntary weekend activity will give you plenty of insight into the industry without committing to a full-time role. Not only will working voluntarily potentially get you a job further down the line, but it will also give you plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get a sense of the reality. It’s easy to just imagine the highlights of a potential new career, but it’s good to know if the less fun aspects will be worth it, too. Volunteer work is also greatly appreciated by companies and employees alike. Not only does it demonstrate your commitment to the sector, but your time is also worth money. There is, in fact, an institution that gathers information about the financial benefits of charity work, and it’s known as the Independent Sector. Every year it gathers a total on the estimated national value of each volunteer hour. The actual amount varies from state to state, but it shows that your time has more benefits than just investigating the industry you’re interested in.

Save up plenty of money

Changing jobs may see your finances take a hit as you iron out the logistics of your new job. Depending on the direction you want your career to go in, be aware that you may need to watch your finances more carefully. You may want to take any steps you can to booster your skills. However, before you take up an evening class or go to any trade fair, it’s wise to put some money down for a rainy day first. If those around you, or even those around you, are a little bit worried about this new career move then having a financial safety net will provide some reassurance. Sometimes a new career move means starting off a little lower down on the ladder, which means a reduction in salary in some instances. Accommodating for this deficit will make the tighter budget feel like much less of a tight pinch. There are some helpful recommended ways to start putting money aside for your big move:

  1. Change bank accounts: some checking accounts offer cash rewards and interest rates for the mere act of signing up. Savings accounts also have introductory rates for brand new customers.
  2. Cut down the hoarding: everyone impulse-buys to some extent, but getting round to shifting all the superfluous items we own can seem exhausting. Having a yard sale with the family to shift some unwanted belongings is a great way to give your home a makeover too in the process.
  3. Wait 30 days before making a purchase: does your family really need a soup maker for the kitchen? Putting some distance before you spend big can leave you time to reassess.
  4. Make lists before you go shopping: cutting down on impulse-buys at the supermarket can also save you some dollars that can be cashed away into your rainy day fund.

While budgeting and saving might seem like an extra stress you don’t need on top of the planning for your career change, it could prevent a much larger headache down the road. It will also give those around you some piece of mind that you are taking the entire process seriously.

However you begin your journey into a new career path, the most important thing is not to do it alone. Talking your plans over with family and friends will not only provide you with an outlet to voice your ideas but also to get some feedback on your strategy – which is also necessary. A strategy or set of goals will ensure that whatever path you take, you have a plan to follow. Setting realistic goals ensures that you won’t be disheartened that you didn’t immediately land your dream job in the next three months. It might take a little time, but you might just find yourself in the perfect job. The patience and perseverance will be worth it in the long run.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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