How to change careers in 3 steps

Still looking for work in this new normal? 877,600 Australians remained out of work at the end of December. Or maybe the pandemic has made you think about the long-term fit of your job or even higher pay?

Now is a natural time to consider a career change.

COVID-19 dropped like a bomb on the labour market. Over two-thirds of Australian jobs have been affected. Women and young people have been the hardest hit.

Some changes will be permanent. For example, some level of remote work will remain and some business trips will be replaced by Zoom calls.

Technology will also continue to change work over the coming decades. Will your job even exist in ten years? Even many accountants could be replaced by AI in the future.

Here are three steps to change your career today.

1. Self-evaluation

“Without proper self-evaluation, failure is inevitable.” John Wooden.

The first step in changing careers is to know what you want and what you can do.

There are plenty of career experts that argue to follow your passion or to conversely be careful of chasing your passion when choosing a career. Either way, it is good to know what you enjoy.
Does your career have to be your life-long dream? No, but if you can make that happen, go for it. At the very least, it should be something you can grow to enjoy. This is the most common track for most people.

If you are finding it hard to define what type of work you enjoy, look at your hobbies or interests. What do you spend your time on? Also, in your current or past jobs, when did you find yourself in the zone? Was there a particular task that made you come alive?

The next step is to assess what you are good at and what transferable skills you have.

In what tasks have you received the most positive feedback from managers and peers? In what former jobs did you excel? If you are not sure, try asking your current or former co-workers.

What skills have you developed that are transferable? If you were an apprentice baker, proofing and baking are not that useful in most other careers but time management and inventory management are.

At the core of most jobs, there is a set of skills that can be moved to another job where your interests and passions lay.

On the flip-side of this process, you also need to consider what you definitely don’t want to do and what you are not good at. Sometimes we think we want to work in an industry but upon self-reflection, we realize that we would not enjoy or be good at the work involved.

2. Research

Once you have an idea of what you want to do and what you can do, the next step is to research the careers that match the intersection of the two.

Cast your net widely. You may be surprised by what careers could be a good match for you.

This is a good time to talk to a recruiter. Be open to a career you have never considered before.

The next stage is to research your potential new careers. Get into the detail to see which careers would be a good match for you. Talk to any friends in those industries. Ask a recruiter to put you in touch with a potential employer or a past client in those industries.

Check to see what the level of remuneration is in those careers and the general working conditions. To do this look at job postings on the job websites. Talk to friends and recruiters. For extra detail, browse through the awards and workplace agreements on the Fair Work Australia website. Do they match your expectations?

Look to see if any particular qualifications are required. Obviously, some careers like medicine require a serious investment in education. But remember that there is usually a related career path with fewer requirements e.g. aged care or counselling.

If you are not sure about what qualifications are required, talk to a recruiter or check to see if there is a professional body. Also, check with your local TAFE.

Hopefully, by the end of your research, you will have a shortlist of careers to target.

If you are struggling to narrow it down, find out if there is any way you can try a career. Is there a related hobby? Would you be willing to volunteer for a few weeks of work experience?

3. Preparation

“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” Seneca.

The next step is to plan your move.

Make a list of recruiters and potential employers you can talk to. Brush up your resume. Reach out to your network to see if they can help. Start searching and applying for jobs on job sites.

If further education or skill development is required for your new job then you need to plan for this. Can you do the training while keeping your current job or can you work part time? If not, then you need to build up a nest egg to cover your living expenses while retooling. This is where an understanding family or spouse can also be a big help.

Alternatively, if you are not currently working, can you find a stop-gap job that can help cover your finances while you retool?

Also check to see if you are eligible for government help while studying through Austudy, Abstudy, and the Youth Allowance programs.

Changing careers is a process. Engage in these three steps to maximise your outcomes, your future self will thank you.

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