Careers – Risks to take now!
Times are changing and so are careers. Now’s the time to take risks that’ll secure your future.
Back in the day, having a career meant a lifelong relationship with a company. The latest career studies have found, however, that jobs are undergoing big shifts – entire career fields are disappearing or morphing into something new as technology advances, forcing workers to consider changing careers. With South Africa formally in recession, the latest employment figures released by Statistics South Africa are also not helping. Our unemployment rate has risen to 27,7%.
So what now? Sometimes taking risks can help you reach your ultimate goal. In fact, taking a chance and exploring the unknown could be just the thing you need. Some people are natural risk takers. They aren’t afraid to start a business, accept a job in a different city or even go back to studying full time. For others, the fear of the unknown and the many responsibilities they have hold them back. Change is scary. Wanting to pursue a new career or start a business is frightening. According to research by telecommunications giant Vodafone, people aged between 31 and 35 are the most unhappy at work. “They feel undervalued, unfulfilled and demotivated. They experience mid-career blues, thinking of career change more often than others but still worrying if it’s worth making a change,” the research reveals. Morever, research done by Elizabeth Brown, the author of Working Successfully with Screwed-up People, one in four workers has been with their current employer for less than a year. This means more employees are now working on a contract, freelance or parttime basis either because companies are cutting costs or they’re likely looking for a new challenge. Do you feel stuck or you’re itching for change?
GET INTO BUSINESS
People are venturing into entrepreneurship. Many dream of creating something that they can call their own. However, this comes with the risk of irregular income due to the everfluctuating economy.
After many years as a sought-after actress, Connie Ferguson took a risk that paved the way for a successful business. Connie went from acting to starting a production company, Fergusons films, which she co-owns with her husband. Today, the company
has produced great dramas like Rockville,
Igazi and The Queen for Mzansi Magic. Career coach Khanya Matlala suggests that you plan your business venture while you’re still working. “This is hard, especially for someone who has a stable job. In the beginning, they can’t see how starting a business would make them enough money to cover their bills. Careful planning is key. This is why consulting with a business coach is so important. You need someone to guide you on your ideas and develop a plan for your business that can set you up for success.”
Joburg-based career coach Vanessa Carstens adds: “Get a mentor that can help you unleash your hidden potential. Starting your own business can be daunting and you need a support system, not just a financial one, to help you through the journey. Some people are natural entrepreneurs, but they need to understand how a company operates before jumping into the decision blindly. Learn from others’ mistakes, and choose your potential business partners very carefully.”
GO BACK TO SCHOOL
Making the financial and time commitment to go back to study for an advanced degree or certificate is overwhelming, but many choose this route, which does pay off in the long term. Actresses like Natasha Thahane, Xoli Tshabalala and Fikile Kani also decided to study further abroad, even though their careers were steadily on the rise here in South Africa. “The pay-off is getting a qualification that’ll make you eligible for a promotion or career change,” adds Matlala. “Lots of people put their careers on hold by not making education a priority.”
Having family responsibilities or being unable to quit your job to focus on studying can feel like a heavier burden. “If you decide to go back to school, discuss this with your immediate family. Sometimes you have to give up on the short-term luxuries to gain in the long term. The questions to ask yourself before taking the risk are: What are you prepared to sacrifice for this career goal? Do you have the discipline to handle the heavy workload?
Carstens advises: “Ask how your decision will impact you and your immediate family. You want to get them on board and to support your decision. Too many people make career decisions based on short-term gains.”
Also, discuss it with your employer, so they can make plans.
Bad career decisions made early in life can lead you down the path of misery and frustration. According to Matlala, this usually affects people who are over 30 because they’ve spent so many years getting to where they are today, and don’t want to throw it all away and start again at the bottom.
When Cindy, 40, was given an opportunity to remain a chartered accountant at one of the best firms in the country and work towards a partnership, she turned the opportunity down. Instead, she decided to carve a new path for herself as a finance executive elsewhere. “I wanted a taste of commerce. The new firm was a very demanding and challenging environment, but I learned a lot from that – I worked hard and paid attention to the detail.”
“Thanks to all the experience they already have, people over the age of 30 actually stand a chance to grow faster if they start a new career. They can take the skills they’ve learned and transfer them to their new role as a way to move up the ranks a lot faster than any junior in the same position,” says Matlala.
Your career is a huge part of your life – and, you spend a lot of time at work so it has to be worth it. When it doesn’t leave you feeling fulfilled, it could be time for a major change.