Want to change gears mid-career? Read this
Bored at work? Feeling unfulfilled in your current profile? Looking for a career that you are passionate about? Fear not. Changing your vocation is par for the course these days. Gone are the days when people spent a lifetime in the career or company they started work with.
The latest research seems to support this trend. Studies show that you are less likely to stick to the job you started in, unlike the previous generation. In fact, for millennials, the first generation to step into the workforce after 2000, change is the new normal.
Developments in technology, among others, has thrown open a plethora of opportunities. At the same time, information about different careers is now easily available and people are more willing to take an informed risk and try something new than being stuck in a rut. A constant career no longer defines the new-age professional.
Sometimes, people also want to change careers because they feel there is no room for growth in their current role or it does not meet their aspirations as a professional.
However, before you take the plunge, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let’s take a look.
Explore what’s out there before leaving your current job
It’s easy to get influenced by people who leave their jobs in a fit of emotion and then start looking for a new one. While this approach may work well for some, the truth is - it can be counter-productive for many. The financial anxiety that comes with quitting your job, without a backup plan, can actually make it harder for you to find a career you’re passionate about.
Instead, it’s much better to start exploring your options while still in your current job. Take time to introspect. Figure out if the dissatisfaction you feel is just temporary and related to daily issues like your boss, the work environment, etc., or is it that you don’t like the nature of work altogether.
If it’s the latter then begin by figuring out what your inherent skills are, what you enjoy doing and then find out the careers where you could be a good fit. Don’t think about whether you have the qualifications or experience for such a career; just think about whether you can see yourself doing it for many years to come.
Research and re-skill
The best way to understand the realities of a job is by talking to people who are doing it day in, day out. Try to approach people who are already in the career you are thinking of moving to. If possible, try to find someone at the level where you will enter the industry, as well as someone who has been in the career for many years. This will help you understand if this is something you want to do in the long run.
Once you decide on the career you want to switch to, find out what skills you need. This could entail a simple online course or apprenticeship or a more complex graduate degree. In either case, figure out how to get the skills you need. If possible, try to acquire these alongside your current job.
As you progress in your professional life, you will end up connecting with a number of people both from your field and those related to it. In a career shift, networking can play a crucial role. It is through your professional network that you can connect to people who are working in the field you want to be in. In case you do not know anyone, and it is an entirely new ballgame, start to attend events and workshops where you will find people of your dream career.
If you decide to take up a new course to reskill, then the professors and mentors you meet could be the ones to help you. This will become very important when you are looking for your first job in the new industry.
Make that shift!
There is nothing wrong with making a career shift. It is always good to explore a career change rather than have regrets later. However, try to go about it in a methodical and risk-averse way. It will help prevent a lot of anxiety and heartache that comes with such a major life change.