How to Change Career on Faith Alone – Part One
What do you do when you know you desperately need to change career but have no idea what you want to pivot to? Many people reach an impasse in their careers. Whether they have genuinely achieved all the goals they set for themselves, or their job has turned out to be a lot less than they envisaged in terms of fulfilment and challenge, some people just need a change. The question is, how do you make that career change and make it work?
Well, firstly, you need to understand yourself much more profoundly than you do now. You have to know what you would potentially give up everything for, what you value most, your priorities, your standards of integrity, the non-negotiables and your style, preferences, and ideals. Believe it or not, countless professionals and workers do not have a clue precisely who they are. And the sad truth is they spend years trying to figure out what direction to take, without understanding themselves or what they really want. If you do not know yourself intimately, you cannot build a successful and enjoyable career, no matter what sector you choose.
If you are unhappy in your present career, have you realised that there is undoubtedly something blocking you from more success and reward in your professional life, or you would already have it. Do you know what that is? The first place to look is where there are repeating negative patterns in your life – terrible managers, toxic environments, being passed over continually, back-stabbing colleagues, draining responsibilities, etc. Look at the patterns that repeat, attempt to identify how you are participating in sustaining these patterns, and make up your mind to do something concrete to change that dynamic. Be accountable and take action to generate change. There will invariably be things that are wrong that you have contributed to, however small. Those must be addressed; otherwise, any change you make will be for nothing as you will end up being in a new industry with the same issues.
So, what does your ideal job look like? Now, this does not mean just the title or compensation – you should consider all facets of a job when thinking about your ideal career. For example, do you prefer a structured and heavily reordered environment or an unstructured and creative environment? Do you want to wear a suit, uniform, or jeans to work every day? Do you want to work remotely, travel to different cities, or go to an office? Each of these questions significantly impacts the types of roles you will be looking at. You will also want to consider what the role might look like in one year, three years, or even ten years. As you consider how you want to advance, take a look at what the career trajectory looks like. If the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it is that not all industries are indestructible. Whilst you do not have a crystal ball and can foresee what industries will thrive, you need to consider the long-term robustness of whichever industry you decide to move into.
Will you stay focused on one specific skill or topic, or would you prefer to be more of a generalist? Will you need to, at some point, start managing others and give up the tasks of producing yourself? (This is especially important for creative professionals to consider.) Are promotions and pay increases based on experience, or do they require specific skills and credentials, like going back to studying? Whilst you never really know how your role will evolve over time (or even what jobs might be available in the future!), it is important to explore how the role tends to change as you advance.
Once you have established these fundamentals, you can now concentrate on more tangible approaches. What are your transferable skills? These are the skills you have gained throughout your career so far. In addition to your job, these skills can also come from your volunteer work, hobbies, sports, and other life experiences. They can be used in your next career without any further refinement. They are transferable from one job to another. Think of a transferable skill as riding a bicycle. No matter what position you apply for, if the ability to ride a bike is a requirement and you know how to ride a bike, that is a transferable skill. In business, transferable skills can be things such as managing people, reading a profit and loss statement or knowledge of Lean. What other transferable skills can you identify?
Next time, we will look at more tangible hints on how to change your career if you are uncertain of your direction.