Many people decide to change career at some point in their lives. Often it can be a decision that has been forced upon them through redundancy, or after suffering from a severe injury that prevents them from continuing in the same line of work. But sometimes a change of career can be a personal choice when you finally decide to follow your dreams and do a job that you love instead of one that you may well have simply fallen into out of convenience or family expectations.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to pursue a change of career, it can be quite a shock to the system and bit of a challenge when you realize that in most cases, you would need to completely start over from the very bottom rung on the ladder.
This can be difficult for a person who maybe has spent 20 years or so in one career only to now find themselves competing with 20-something’s who are fresh out of college and have no commitments. It can be an extra strain on your mind to know that you will be starting over again maybe with a family and children to support as well as a mortgage to pay.
But what you must take into consideration is that fact that if you don’t go for it and make a career change now, you might live to regret it.
When you think that we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, we need to make sure that we at least enjoy what we do for the sake of our mental health.
If this means switching career to land your dream job, then it may mean a few short years of upheaval while you and your family adjust, but in the end it will be worth it – and it will be a much better choice than sticking with the same job or working in the same industry for the next 25 years where you know you are not happy.
Making that change
Once you realize that life is too short for it to be wasted being unhappy at work, then it is time to make that change and go after your dream job.
The first thing to do is to sit down and make a plan of action about how you are going to end up in your dream job. You may well lack the qualifications and experience to be able to walk right into the role, so you will need to work out how you can gain the valuable skills and knowledge that employers will be looking for in a job candidate.
This may involve taking up some evening classes or part-time study courses to gain the appropriate qualifications for the role. Check out what relevant education and training courses your local college offer and see if you can fit these in while continuing to work at your present job. It may be that you will need to ask for flexible working hours or use up your holiday entitlement to complete courses and take exams.
Gain some relative experience
Look for any opportunities that can give you some valuable experience. This may be volunteering for the company in some way. Many charity organizations and social enterprises welcome volunteers, and you can gain some useful skills and background knowledge about the company that could be useful for landing you with a job with them in the future.
Do the company offer any junior or trainee positions that you can apply for? Your age shouldn’t put you off from applying. OK, the salary may be lower than what you are used to in your present job, but if you can land a junior or trainee position with the company, you will be getting a solid foot in the door and gaining skills and experience that can eventually lead you on to landing your dream job with them.
Use your experience to your advantage
Quite often larger companies that offer paid internships and trainee positions will welcome more mature candidates because they will have a proven working track record and experience of working as part of a team, meeting deadlines and achieving set goals within an organization. You can use your work experience to your advantage here and will have something of great value to offer the company over a graduate with no real-world work experience.
Network like there is no tomorrow
Successful and effective networking is a skill that needs to be honed over a long period of time. No doubt you may already have a wealth of networking experience under your belt, and certainly far more than a fresh-faced college graduate has. You may well have done more deals and shaken more hands than a 20-something has in their whole lifetime. Use your networking skills to put the word out about your career change. You never know – there may be someone already in your network that already knows of a perfect job opening for you, but unless they know you are looking to switch careers, they won’t think to mention it to you!