New career for a new year
The clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve marks a fresh start for most of us and signals the time for change that we’ll make in the year ahead. This could mean many things, but for some of us, this means a change in workplace, career or industry.
What is the best way to pursue a career change and how can you beat the competition in an increasingly competitive job market? We look at the steps you need to take…
Tips for Setting Career Goals for the New Year
1. Consider the cost of a career change
Before you rush to resign, consider if you can afford to change career. Research what sort of salary you can expect to earn with your level of education, training and experience and whether this would be enough to cover your usual expenses. If you start your new career in a more junior role, it is likely that your income will be lower. Additionally, if you need to retrain, consider whether you would be able to work on the side to support yourself. Think about monthly outgoings such as the mortgage or rent, bills and childcare costs. Try keeping track of your expenses by using a budget tracker. You can find free templates online or in Excel. Doing this will help you to understand what you might need to cut back on.
2. Reflect on your year
Take some time to consider your career in the year that just ended. If you dislike your job, try to figure out why. Is it due to the work itself, or something about the workplace: such as a poor relationship with your manager or lack of growth opportunities?
If you like what you do, and it is outside factors that you find limiting, it might make sense to want a new position. The same holds true if you feel positive about your field but are ready for more significant responsibilities.
This is also an excellent time to reflect on where you see yourself in several years, from a career standpoint. It’s helpful to think about where you want to be and what you want to do.
3. Identify your skills
Knowing where you want to be and establishing your personal vision is the first step in any personal development. The next step is to understand where you are now. From this point, you can work out which areas are likely to need some work to improve your skills and abilities.
• Do you need certain skills to get a specific job, or to advance in your chosen career?
• Are you planning to live abroad, and therefore need to develop your language skills?
• Are you struggling to manage a particular situation and need new skills to help?
• Have you been told that you lack particular skills and need to develop them to work effectively with others, or on your own?
Being aware of your weaknesses enables you to take steps to start to address them, and knowing your strengths means you can build on those, too. These steps may be through formal courses, working out how to use and apply your existing experience in a different way, or using everyday experiences and setbacks to learn.
Review your work, volunteer, extracurricular, and academic history to identify activities or elements of your past roles that you found enjoyable. What did you like the best? What skills would you like to develop?
You could write a list of your strengths and weaknesses to help you identify areas for development. You may also want to ask friends and colleagues their views on your strengths and weaknesses or ask them to comment on your first draft analysis and suggest additions.
4. Engage in career research
The more you learn, the easier it will be to make decisions and set goals for yourself. Start to read about careers of interest and measure them against your preferred skills list. For those fields with a genuine appeal, compile a list of questions to research so that you can fully appraise the suitability of that career for you.
If your goal is to change job but stay in the same industry, research companies in your field and spend some time doing research on salaries and work culture to ensure best fit in terms of personal work ethics, environment and flexible working patterns to suit your lifestyle.
Check out what your friends do. Activate your curiosity about the work lives of friends and people in your social network. Think about the roles of colleagues, suppliers, or clients that might be a good fit for you and ask them questions about the nature of their work. Share your skills list with them and ask for help brainstorming career options that might be worth considering within their sector. You could even ask your contacts for introductions to people they know who are in fields that interest you and enquire about the possibility of meeting for an informational interview.
5. Go (back) to school
Completing a qualification mid-career may seem daunting but it is never too late for a career change! If attractive options require further education, take a class online to boost your career skills, or consider earning a certificate in a career that interests you to boost your employability. Review the offerings of local colleges or consider taking a course at a local community college or adult education centre to get a feel for your field of interest.
Apprenticeships are currently at the forefront of the Government’s priorities and despite what you might think, they are available to anyone, not just young people. Apprenticeships are a great way to gain hands-on experience and exposure to your new career, at the same time as earning a living and a recognised qualification.
Search vacancies or contact the Education & Skills team to get a head start in your future career.
6. Shadow or volunteer to gain experience
If you are currently unemployed, working part-time or able to take a sabbatical, you could set up some job shadowing opportunities with contacts in fields of interest to gain more concrete exposure. It will give you real-life exposure to what the occupation is really like.
If possible, look for volunteer positions within your chosen field. For example, if you are considering social work, help out at a retirement home. If you are in school, unemployed, or working at home, consider a part-time internship in your target field. Besides helping others, you'll get some relevant experience to add to your CV. You might even be able to turn your volunteer position into a job.
7. Update your CV
Finally, when you have considered all your options and know where you are heading to, it’s time to adapt your CV for a career change.
• Rewrite your personal statement – this is at the top of your CV and needs to make you stand out. Draw attention to transferable skills and offer a brief explanation about why you are changing careers.
• Tailor it – make links between the skills and experience gained in your previous industry and the new career that you want to pursue. You do not have to document every aspect of your career history, but make sure you keep it relevant.
• Sell your skills – emphasise the skills and abilities that you can bring to the role. Try and steer clear of questioning what the role could do for you. Also, rather than simply listing your skills, highlight past achievements and results with concrete examples. An online CV builder can help you to write the CV you need.
It can be tempting to jump ship when work is grinding you down. However, you don’t want to rush into something that you may regret, or that doesn’t suit you. Think carefully about the type of industry or sector that you want to move to. If possible, make time to speak informally to people who are already doing your ‘dream job’.
If you’re aiming to start the New Year with a career change, get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today. We can help you to kick-start your job search in the right way and have access to numerous in-house services if you were in need to retrain or upskill.
Browse current opportunities and find a new job with Aspire Recruitment.