How to Prepare for a Major Career Change

You feel like you’re getting all of the bad parts of the rat race, the never-ending 9 to 5. Your salary has been stagnant for years. Perhaps there’s no upward mobility. This isn’t what you envisioned when you first entered the workforce. Or you’re simply not enjoying it anymore.

Whatever the reason, you want OUT. You need a career change. But it’s not always easy, especially if you’ve been at the same job for many years. If you’re looking to switch career tracks, here’s how you can prepare yourself for that big step.

Cover the Practical Basics

Source: Wikipedia

Before you hand in your resignation, you need to make sure you’ve covered the basics first. Don’t make any rash decisions, and definitely don’t quit before you have a plan in place. Tick off these boxes first:

  • Save, save, save. Try and build up 6-12 months’ worth of salary. If you have any issues with your new job, you’ll have a lifeline.
  • Do your homework. Don’t go for another career based on a fantasy or a whim. Do your research first. What are the prospects like? What is the day to day experience? Do you think you’ll enjoy the job for the next few years?
  • Talk to others. Reach out to people on LinkedIn. Talk to your friends. Go to the conference. Find out what your potential new career is like by talking to those who live it.
  • Is it your job or your industry? Think about why you chose your current career path. Are you unhappy because of your job or the industry as a whole? Would a switch to a different company improve things?
  • Is your family supporting you? Talk to your family about how you feel. They may not understand you at first, but it’s important you have their support. Talk openly and discuss your feelings.

Invest in Your Education

Source: Alexander Daniels

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: if you want to switch careers, you’re probably going to need to learn a thing or two. There are few jobs where you can learn from the absolute bottom, unless you’re willing to work for a very low salary.

The advantage of the digital revolution is that we can access high-quality education from all over the world without having to pay brick and mortar tuition. Conversion courses are also quite affordable compared to full degrees. There is a range of vocational certificates that offer short courses for specific jobs. Depending on the career you have in mind, here are some options for you:

  • Codecademy Python Courses. Have dreams of coding for Google, Facebook, or any of the other big tech companies? If you do, learn some programming languages before you send off that application. Codecademy is amongst the best for this, and it’s not too pricey either. The Python course is recommended, as it’s a versatile language used by many tech firms. You do not have to pigeon-hole yourself with generic programming jobs. By learning Python you can develop data science skills and break into new industries. Data science can apply to many different companies, not just the tech big wigs, if you are looking for a change of pace this can be your first step in that direction. If you are looking into developing your coding skills, you can take assessment tests with
    Quanthub to better establish the working skills that tech companies are looking for in data scientists.
  • Certificate for Accounting and Bookkeeping. Want to get into the finance world? Have you always been good with numbers, but couldn’t apply this skill in a professional environment? This all-rounded course (More information on Open Colleges) will give you the next level push. It’s also a good option if you’re looking to start your own business and have no idea about the financial side of things.
  • Graduate Diploma in Law. Want to become a lawyer or barrister? You may not need to do a full degree. Depending on where you live, a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) may be an option. They often take around 18 months, which is less than half of what you’d spend with a regular degree.
  • Harvard Extension School. Ever dreamed of getting an Ivy League degree? Harvard’s Extension School is far cheaper than Harvard College, but you still get a top-notch education. They have some courses that are very much geared towards a career change: Museum Studies Certificate, Back-End Web Development Certificate, and Data Science Certificate are just a few of the options.

Most of these you can do in your free time, so get started while still in your job!

Let Go of That Fear

Source: The Atlantic

People often want to switch careers, but they’re just too afraid to take that step. There are some legitimate reasons why, but ultimately it is possible. Let’s squash all of those fears, shall we?

“I’m too old to change careers.” Age is but a number. True, some industries can prefer younger staff, but overall things have changed. Career switches are more common. People jump companies all the time. Don’t think you have to stick with one thing.

“I can’t do anything else but my current gig.” Yes, you really can! It may be challenging, it’ll take some effort, and getting out of your comfort zone isn’t straight forward. But if you’ve reached rock bottom with your current job, believe you can do it.

“My current job is safe. Leaving would be such a risk.” Granted, leaving a job that’s secure is always going to be a difficult step. But you need to weigh up the overall plus and minus points. You only live once, is this job really worth the sacrifices you’re making?

Do Not Burn Bridges

Source: Superprof

Oh, and one final thing. Don’t burn any bridges on your way out. Plenty of us may feel like a character out of the movie ‘Office Space’ (except we’re all now in an open plan, instead of cubicles!). Always overworked, often ignored, and 100% undervalued.

Once you get that new gig, it’s tempting to go out with a bang by leaving your boss in a lurch, not helping out with a final project, or by getting a little too involved in office gossip.

Don’t. It’s just not worth it. Keep those connections. You may need them. Instead, do your best to help your old colleagues with adjusting to life without you, give your contact details in case your replacement needs advice, and put on a smile and say a few nice words before you go.

Good luck!

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