Taking the first steps to a career change
Change involves plenty of internal and external conversations. Knowing the right questions to ask and answer will help you find clarity for your next career steps.
Change is needed for a range of reasons. You may have chosen it or It may have been forced upon you, but it’s always an excellent chance to review & realign. Listening to your gut and being honest with yourself is an important part of this process. You need to know the reason for the change to allow you to find the right solution and next steps for you.
Like dating, some things are hard to articulate, but you know when you see it. Career paths are similar to dating ones, where sometimes you need to give things a try to work out what you do and don’t like. The bonus is this experimentation makes you more aware, confident and stronger in your decision-making in the future. So, be open-minded to opportunities and people that may come your way.
You still need to know where to start, so here are some questions to ask yourself.
What does your ideal working week look like? Think of your life commitments and what makes you happy and recharged and factor these in. Start with the ideal in your mind, and then look for businesses and roles offering the flex you need. This is your chance to assess how you’ve been working and how you’d prefer to be working. Picking up kids, a morning swim, Thursday chess club. These things all contribute to refilling your cup and will ensure you stay happy, healthy and productive long term.
What skills do you love using and would like to use and develop them more? It seems simple, but an honest review of your current role will help you understand if you want to carry on the same career trajectory, use an ejector seat or simply make some tweaks to the pathway you are on. Go back to basics, split a page into quadrants and label them; ‘love to do’ ‘don’t mind doing’ ‘would prefer not to do’ & ‘hate to do’. Let’s see if you can leave behind the ‘hate to do’s’ in your next career step!
What are my strengths? This a good one if you are making a bigger career change or re-entering the workforce. You may need to think outside of the box for your ‘transferable skills’ and you may need to recruit the insights from those closest to you if you are having difficulty naming these about yourself. An example is when I moved from nursing to e-commerce. I loved working with people and had a pretty robust set of people skills. It ended up customer service and sales were areas I thrived. The stress of not receiving an order on time didn’t come close to the challenges I managed in the public health system 😉
Would upskilling help your next career move? The glorious thing about upskilling in 2024 is the accessibility and affordability. You can dip a toe in with a micro-course, attempt a short course or go for something a little more substantial. Either way, it iis a great way to learn some new tricks of your trade, expand your network and receive a boost in confidence.
What type of business would I love to work for? Opportunities may appear where you least expect, so being open but aware is a good starting point. Businesses are all unique and have different things to offer, so having a clear idea of what you want and don’t want helps. Business maturity or size, growth opportunities, values, flexible ways of working, L&D opportunities and different industries are all things to consider.
How much do I need to be paid? Talking about money can be awkward, but knowing your worth, the minimum you need to be paid and a realistic maximum is important. Being honest with yourself will ensure you have confident conversations and are looking for roles that are paying within your approved range. Not all platforms will advertise salary, so this makes it difficult, but try to find and use those of us that do!
Who do I trust to have a conversation about this? Talking about change is a wonderful way to validate, get new ideas, network, gain confidence and press go. You are not in this alone, so talk to your partner, friends, trusted colleagues or someone who has been there before you. Don’t be shy to reach out to people and ask to pick their brain. If you don’t ask, you don’t know. Do always follow your gut when navigating the feedback you receive.
Change, big or small, should be embraced as an awesome opportunity. An opportunity to reassess, realign and reinvigorate. Knowing the direction you’d like to go is the first but most important step. Your moves from here may not all be perfect, but at least you have started a journey towards fulfilment.