I knew I had to make a career change when I came home from work in the evenings shattered and dreading going back the next morning. It was the feeling social media described as ‘the Sunday night fear’- but this was mid-week. At my family and friends’ advice, I had previously tried to improve my situation by moving to different work places and to different roles within my sector but to no avail.
I was unhappy at work and most days brought that unhappiness home with me. I couldn’t imagine staying in my current work role until retirement. I knew I needed a career change but I had no idea what career category to change to or how to go about doing it. I found myself taking the following steps to kickstart my search and guide me to a career I enjoyed and was passionate about!
1. Clues from childhood
This one may seem obvious. It’s the answer to that age old question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’. It’s the occupation you dressed up as and childhood role played as. Did you want to become a policewoman, a nurse, a teacher or perhaps something more out there, maybe you wanted to be an astronaut? Whatever your wildest dreams, think back and take note. Ask yourself if you’re in a similar role now.
2. Personality type
If you hadn’t a childhood dream, like me, there are plenty of online websites that can give you a deeper insight into who you’ve grown up to be. One such website I found to be very helpful is 16personalities.com. This website takes you through a series of questions to reveal what personality type best fits you. This, in turn, can generate which careers would best challenge the personality traits you possess. Along with doing this, I asked my parents and siblings, my boyfriend and my closest friends for their opinion on what career they thought I would excel at and enjoy.
3. Research roles
There are so many careers that are often not considered when thinking about what to do after school. Qualifax.ie, careersportal.ie and gradireland.ie are examples of websites that offered me further insight into types of work I had never heard of. These websites can also suggest courses you can enrol in to qualify for such posts. Job recruitment agencies are another free and easy way to match your qualifications and skills to a job near you. Job advertising websites such as indeed.ie, jobs.ie and irishjobs.ie allow you to search current job markets.
4. To stay or to go
I asked myself if a career change would be worth the risk? I weighed up my options. I began by writing down the pros and cons of my current role. I tapped into why I considered leaving in the first place. My advice to everyone is; if you are unhappy in a workplace, the healthiest option for you, and the people around you, might be to move on. Take a look in your current sector for alternative opportunities of employment. A complete change of career may not appeal to you but a change of role in your field may lead to the happiness and fulfilment you desire. If you already know you would like to leave your current career in search of an alternative one, then these next steps are for you.
5. Careers Advisor
This can be an expensive step and one you can ignore if you’re willing to put in the time to research. Working with a career advisor can be really valuable. With these sessions you’re looking for value for your money here, so do attend prepared with some ideas of what career you may or may not like to pursue and reasons why. If you choose to make an appointment, expect to go through a short test on arrival. This test should result in a few suggested career paths based on your strengths. My strengths, for instance, were creativity, administration and linguistics which best match career categories of finance, computer science, media, law enforcement, and the arts. The career advisor should then be able to offer a range of entry routes into a new found career, point you in the right direction for your research and answer any questions you may have.
6. Plan ahead
Career change books can be purchased online to help you with your decision to move, build your perfect CV and to help create an achievable career action plan. I preferred the workbook style book. These often prompted me to write about and think about aspects of a new career e.g. preferred salary and financial reward bonuses, level of responsibility, lifestyle factors, working style and conditions. They also help to highlight your strengths and weaknesses as a prospective employee. Along with this, they can help you to understand your current career situation, how you got there, realise potential work opportunities and reach your full potential through self-promotion and realistic goal setting.
7. Commit to your new plan
This can be the most difficult and lengthy step in a career change. Committing to a new career path can be intimidating as you may not know the new field or you may wonder what others will think of you. I definitely had guilty thoughts, fearing I had wasted time and waster the money of people who had helped support me to this point in my working life. Equally, I knew a change in my career direction would not happen overnight and that I may require further support from my friends and family. In an attempt to be more independent this time round, it can be beneficial to work your current job a little while longer than hoped if it means you are able to fund the transition between jobs and reaching the job you want in the long run.
It is important to remember, in moments of doubt, that to do nothing with your current work situation is a decision in itself. In my opinion, working takes up so many months and years of our adult lives, it’s a pity to remain unhappy in a role. While the above steps helped me, your journey may be different, but I’d like to think you can use this article as motivation to start thinking about what you want. Make ‘short term pain for long term gain’ your motto. Start by taking one small step a day toward your new career and keep focused on your goal.