Changing careers is a big step to take, especially when you’ve already climbed the ranks in one area and want to move into something completely different. It will involve a lot of hard work, but if it’s right for you then the results will be worth the effort. However, before you drop everything and immediately jump into a new career, there are a few things that you should think about:
1. What do you want?
If you’re changing careers because you’re unhappy in your current job, don’t just take the first job that appears. Think about your interests and what you would enjoy doing every day, and then try and find something that matches these. There’s no point in starting over if you find yourself in the same position you’re in now after one, two, or five years, so figure out what it is that you want and then aim for that.
2. What are your assets?
Figure out what skills you currently have and how these can be used. Anything you’ve learned in the work you’ve done so far can be made relevant to something else.
If you’re not sure how to make your skills relevant, then talk about it. An outsider perspective can tell you what you’ve learned from the specific responsibilities you’ve held, so talk to a friend, a family member, or book an appointment with one of our careers consultants for more advice.
3. Will you be more fulfilled?
If you want to change careers because you’re running away from a job you hate, then you need to think carefully about the job you’re running into.
You need to research the sector thoroughly, from types of work that you’ll be doing to the kind of hours you’ll be expected to work. There’s no point going from one bad job to another, so make sure you are confident that you’ll be moving into something that will be worthwhile.
4. What are all the eventualities?
While thinking about whether your career change will help you feel more fulfilled, you should also plot out all of the eventualities too. Try doing a SWOT analysis and then have a look at LSE’s career planning and job hunting pages to work out what outcomes your actions will have.
Once you’ve worked out these possibilities a fully-fledged plan for what you need to do when changing careers should fall into place quite easily, so doing this should save you from doing some extra work later.
5. Will you need more training or education?
Sometimes changing career will mean having to complete extra training, or even an additional qualification. Once you’ve identified where the gaps are, then you can start finding out how to strengthen them. This will obviously take time and money, so make sure you’ve got that plan set out so that you can make the most of what you need to do.
6. Can you afford it?
Even if you don’t need to pay for extra training or education, changing careers will probably mean a financial sacrifice. Whether this involves only being able to work part-time in the sector you want to be in, having to take an entry level job with a lower pay grade than you’re used to, or having to work with the unpredictability of going freelance, you need to ensure that you can finance yourself during this period.
7. Are you willing to start over?
If you’re starting a new career, then you’ll probably have to start from a position that has fewer responsibilities and/or benefits that you’re used to. This will be frustrating, so you’ve got to be prepared to take this into consideration. There’s a good chance that you’ll be treated differently than how you’re used to, so make sure you’re ready to head back to more humble beginnings.
8. What are the long-term possibilities?
When starting a new career, do you have an idea of the trajectory it could go in? Is there room for personal development within the sector or organisation, and if so where could that take you in the long run?
When starting a new career you don’t want to find yourself hitting a limit to your opportunities after a few years, so do some research into the long-term possibilities of where you could end up when you change.
9. Do you know people who can help you?
Never underestimate the power of networking. If you know the right people, then you can potentially get a fast-track into all sorts of opportunities.
LSE Careers runs numerous networking events with all sorts of companies which can be a great start to meeting people that can help you find your dream job.
The Alumni office also offers a mentoring service for current students who want to get in contact with LSE alumni who have gone on to do various things. Use these resources to their full potential, and you never know where you might end up!
10. Do you have what it takes?
Changing careers is probably going to be quite difficult, there’s no way to avoid that. You’re going to need to be thick-skinned and strong-willed to get through the initial change. However, the benefits are bound to outweigh any pitfalls in a big way, so just remember how much this change will be worth it, and how well you will be able to see it through!