Fancy a ca­reer change?

Monthly Chronicle - - Careers - PAUL DI MICHIEL, CA­REER COACH

Have you been in a role or pro­fes­sion for years? Is it per­haps no longer giv­ing you the sat­is­fac­tion it once did, and has be­come bor­ing, mun­dane or ir­ri­tat­ing? Or is your pro­fes­sion shrink­ing, with fewer jobs avail­able and more re­dun­dan­cies?

Think­ing about do­ing some­thing else, but not sure what that ‘some­thing else’ is? You’re not alone. Hav­ing worked in the ca­reer coach­ing space for sev­eral years, this is quite a com­mon dy­namic, es­pe­cially among over 40s. We know we need to keep work­ing for the fore­see­able fu­ture but don’t see a lot of se­cu­rity or plea­sure with our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

So, what should you con­sider when chang­ing ca­reers? Firstly, you don’t know what you don’t know. Most peo­ple who want to change ca­reers have no idea what else is out there in the mar­ket. You could go on­line and search for jobs or trawl job sites like SEEK, but I guar­an­tee this will drive you pro­gres­sively mad with a low guar­an­tee of suc­cess.

A far bet­ter op­tion is to get out into the mar­ket and talk to peo­ple. Yes, ac­tu­ally sit down and talk to peo­ple.

Draw up a list of fam­ily, friends and ac­quain­tances who work across a range of in­dus­tries and pro­fes­sions as a start­ing point, and set up dis­cus­sions with them. It doesn’t have to be for­mal. Treat them as re­laxed and in­for­mal dis­cov­ery ses­sions. In pre­par­ing for these con­ver­sa­tions how­ever, it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand three key things about your­self:

1. What can you do? What skills do you have that are trans­fer­able (that is, that can be done be­tween dif­fer­ent jobs)? For ex­am­ple, you may have good writ­ing skills, work with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers, run projects and so on…It’s im­por­tant that you’re aware and able to con­vey your skills to peo­ple you meet.

2. What do you like do­ing? There are as­pects of all our jobs that we en­joy and those we don’t. Clearly, it’s about in­creas­ing the for­mer and re­duc­ing the lat­ter. For ex­am­ple, if you like work­ing as part of team rather than in­di­vid­u­ally, en­sure that this is on your list of ‘likes’. Sim­i­larly, if you don’t want to travel more than 20% of the time for a job, spec­ify that as well.

3. What are your val­ues? What’s im­por­tant to you? If it’s work-life bal­ance, you’ll want flex­i­bil­ity in your work hours, or a short com­mute to and from work. If you crave fi­nan­cial re­wards, you’ll want a high-pay­ing job with a sig­nif­i­cant vari­able com­po­nent. These val­ues

must be in place for you to con­sider al­ter­na­tive ca­reers.

Even if you don’t know what you want to do next, hav­ing some clar­ity around these three ar­eas will help in your dis­cus­sions with oth­ers. Rather than awk­wardly say­ing ‘I don’t know what I want to do next’, you can say

some­thing like, ‘I’m ex­plor­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties and while I’m not ex­actly sure what these are, this is what I can do (skills), this is what I like do­ing and this is what’s im­por­tant to me in terms

of my val­ues.’ This is a far bet­ter way to get in­sight about other po­ten­tial ca­reers.

Another as­pect of your re­search is to un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing in the mar­ket. For ex­am­ple, what in­dus­tries are grow­ing? Think aged care (grow­ing) ver­sus man­u­fac­tur­ing (not grow­ing and pos­si­bly con­tract­ing). What skills are in de­mand? What ones do you have and per­haps what are those you need to de­velop? This can en­sure you have fur­ther in­for­ma­tion to en­sure any ca­reer switch is well-re­searched with en­hanced chances of suc­cess.

As you meet with oth­ers, this will give them some con­text and in re­turn they will be able to pro­vide fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on other ca­reers in the mar­ket that may suit. Once you ob­tain more in­for­ma­tion, you are bet­ter able to then do some ‘desk re­search’ to see what’s needed to qual­ify and ul­ti­mately ap­ply for avail­able jobs.

As a ca­reer coach, I’m con­stantly amazed to dis­cover the jobs ‘out there’ in the mar­ket that I’ve never heard of. Did you know, for ex­am­ple, that fi­nance com­pa­nies em­ploy en­gi­neers, or that ma­jor air­lines em­ploy peo­ple to de­sign the seat­ing configuration in dif­fer­ent air­craft? I only learned about such roles by speak­ing with peo­ple.

In chang­ing ca­reers, it won’t al­ways be as sim­ple as hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion and re­ceiv­ing some op­tions and di­rec­tion about al­ter­na­tive ca­reers. You may have to un­der­take some fur­ther train­ing or ed­u­ca­tion to build your skills base and there­fore be able to move into a new pro­fes­sion.

It takes some courage to change ca­reers and move out of our com­fort zone. Start­ing in some­thing new can be daunt­ing, but ul­ti­mately, if you move into some­thing you love do­ing, it’s worth it.

Hope­fully this ar­ti­cle has given you some in­sight if you’re con­sid­er­ing chang­ing ca­reers. As the fa­mous Amer­i­can so­prano Bev­erly Sills once said, “There are no short­cuts to any place worth go­ing.”

Wahroonga-based Paul Di Michiel is the au­thor of Fired to Hired, The Guide to Ef­fec­tive Job Search for the Over 40s. Find out more about his ca­reer coach­ing business, The Ca­reer Medic, at: www. the­ca­reer­medic.com

Chang­ing ca­reers may be just what you need to re­fresh your life in 2018

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