Ready for a Career Change? Part One

Posted on the 02 January 2012 by Laurenbates @myethicaledge

Do you find yourself hitting the snooze button on the alarm more than you used to? Are you counting the hours every day – and the days until the weekend comes around?

Sounds like it might be time for a career change!

Changing career can feel like such a huge challenge that it might deter you from even considering new horizons. But you can give yourself the best chance of finding a new career by following a few key steps during your job search. With my 15 years’ experience in communications, including recruiting for great charity communications jobs, here’s the first part of my insider guide to help you with your career change. Although I talk about the charity sector, these strategies will help you if you’re working in other sectors.

Why do you want to make a career change?

Some people know from an early age the direct path their career will take, although most of us have a rather meandering path, if we ever have one at all! If you’ve come to a crossroads and just don’t know where you want to go next, one of the first questions I would ask you is ‘what first attracted you to your current job, and what frustrates you about it now?’ This could be the starting point for you to take a good look at your values, what you want out of your career, and what really makes you get up in the morning – even on these cold, dark January days!

Who do you think you are? Do a skills audit

So, which of your many talents are you not currently using in your job? When I began as a charity headhunter, I was amazed at how many people had hidden skills and experience that they failed to mention on their CV. Now one of the questions I like to ask is ‘tell me what isn’t on your CV’. When embarking on a career change it’s essential to look objectively at your values, skills, experience, strengths, and what really motivates you. This can be quite a challenging task, and it often helps to get a neutral perspective to ensure that you don’t under- or over-sell yourself. I never presume that the job you’re doing is the only one that you can or want to do.

It’s not always about the money

We all have different values and we’re motivated by different things. Most of the people I’ve worked with in the charity sector are motivated by making a difference in the wider world. That’s not to say that you can’t make a living working for a charity, but that’s not the primary motivation of most people who want to work in the sector. Whether you’re looking for a charity job or a career in another sector, the key is to discover what really matters to you and to identify careers, sectors and organisations that can offer you what you need. If it is all about the money for you, then a charity job probably isn’t for you – but I know there are plenty of charities who would love to have you as a donor when you make your millions!

Don’t be a mini-me

OK, this should be obvious, but it’s not always easy to achieve. Do what’s right for you and not what you parents/friends/neighbours think you should. Circumstances may not enable you to do all that you want all of the time, but shouldn’t you try to do what you can to reach your goals. Life is short after all. Getting philosophical now!

Moving on up – or sideways

If you lack experience in your new career field, you may need to take a few steps down on the career ladder before you start working your way up again. This isn’t always the case, and if you have transferable skills such as communications or digital marketing & social media you may find yourself working at the same level. Volunteering for a charity in your spare time can be a great way to build your knowledge of the sector and to get an idea of the many different causes, careers and organisations.

Part two of this post is coming soon. In the meantime, what’s the best piece of career advice that you’ve received? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

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