One unexpected impact of the pandemic has been a surge in the number of people looking to change their careers completely. A combination of furlough, giving people more time to stop and think as well as shift in priorities for many people has led to a dramatic rise in online searches for retraining and career changes.
Data shows that the occupations with the highest number of retraining-related searches included nursing, law, accountancy, paramedics, and teaching.
For the first time in many people’s working lives, the pandemic has brought an opportunity to reflect on what they really want from a career. Furthermore, it has highlighted the sectors which have more and less job security. A factor which seems to have influenced the careers people are now considering, with many searches around public sector and financial services occupations.
Making a career change should never be off limits to anyone, but it can feel like a daunting prospect having to retrain and start from scratch.
There’s a chance that stepping away from a long-term career and into something new could come with a drop in income, so it’s important to take this into account before making any sudden changes.
Weighing up the pros and cons such as job security, job satisfaction and work life balance and thinking about what this might look like in a new career compared to now, will paint a clearer picture as to whether it’s worth taking that step.
The next phase is to identify what sort of role you’d be best suited to and how to approach your career change.
Here are some key things to think about.
1. Consider your values and interests – Achieving job satisfaction is much more likely if you’re doing a job that aligns with your core values as it gives you a stronger sense of purpose. In fact, research by PwC found that people with a strong connection to the purpose of the company they work for are 5.3 times more likely to stay. When thinking about your career change, define what you care about most and then consider the sectors and roles that can fulfil these values.
2. Identify skills gaps - Once you’ve narrowed down your options it’s important to determine what skills you’ll need to get into the industry or role you’re interested in. Will you need specific qualifications? Will you need to broaden your knowledge in certain areas? Will an online course suffice, or will you have to go back to university? By identifying gaps in your skill set and knowledge, you can start to work out how you’ll build on it, what this will entail and how long it might take.
3. Utilise your Network – Your network can be a powerful tool for multiple reasons. Firstly, if you know someone who works in a similar role or sector you’re trying to break into, you can reach out to them and get to know what it’s really like before jumping straight in. Carrying out in-depth research on the different types of roles available, salaries, lifestyle etc. is also a great way to gain insight from your network. Once you’ve gained the required skills you may also be able to draw upon your contacts for work experience opportunities which will further strengthen your application when you come to look for roles.
4. Plan and prepare – once you’ve done your research and have a clear idea of the steps you need to take to retrain and restart your career, it’s important to form a plan. By setting yourself clear goals and expectations you can manage your time effectively and ensure the whole process stays on track. Working from a clear plan will give you a much higher chance of making your career change a success. Include rough timeframes around skills development, widening your network, gaining experience, leaving your current role, and applying for new positions to keep you focussed throughout the process.
5. Know your ‘why’ – Making a career change at any stage in life is a daring move and will require commitment and determination. No matter what your circumstances are, there will be challenging times ahead so it’s important to identify what your motivation is. Knowing your ‘why’ will be key when times get tough as this will be what gets you through and keeps your mind on the end goal. The more specific you can be, the better. By keeping your why at the forefront of everything you do, it’ll make the tough times worth it.
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