Preparing For and Making a Career Change


In my youth, I observed that, in England at least, most people wanted to get out of their jobs. Their “career”, whatever it was, only existed to get a regular income. The millions of people who did the football pools, and later the lottery, were a testimony to the “let me out of here” dreams of the majority. “Win the pools, and retire.”

Times may have changed in general, but the fact that most people are not content with their jobs has remained unchanged. Career, employer or job change, or early retirement, are in the minds of tens of millions of people across the world. Only a small minority will ever actually go full out for a career change; it is far too easy just to plod along doing the same old things in the same old place.

However, some people are more serious. These are the people with “get up and go” who actually do get up and go. These are the people who really do change their working lives, sometimes drastically.

Why Do Some People Want to Change Careers?

There are many possible reasons for wanting a career change. The following are just a few of the more common ones.

1. To some people, being in the same job, or even the same type of job, for too long is just unthinkable. I certainly fall into this category, and personally think total career changes can be a vital contributor to a satisfying life. I always want to learn something new, and do something new, once I have mastered what I was doing before. New challenges are an essential part of every day life.

2. Midlife career changes might be the result of a sort of career midlife crisis. This can particularly be so for someone who has always done the same job, and suddenly realise their years are slipping away and they have really done very little with their working years.

3. Dissatisfaction with a current employer, either in terms of recognition, prospects or pay.

4. Boredom is a common cause of wanting a career change.

5. Lack of fulfilment in the current career or employment.

The above are some of the broad reasons people may seek a career change, but each individual is likely to have a different mix of reasons to consider changing their career.

Tips For Preparing for a Career Change

There are many sources of career change advice, both online and offline. Sometimes this can be given on an individual basis, or just in the form of written material which you can consume at your leisure. As a career is a personal matter, and all individuals are different, then pesonal consultation is better by far. However, advisors are individuals too, and the advice may vary from from career counselor to career counselor.

The quality and quantity of career change advice available to you offline will vary greatly between countries and localities, and you may find that some of the online advice is, at least in part, to one country, particularly the US. However, the following career change tips can apply to anyone, anywhere, and are based on my own experience; they may not appear anywhere else, might be considered unconventional, but are designed to get you thinking and planning well in advance for one or a series of career changes:

1. Travel as widely as possible. I do not mean go on vacation with a million other holidaymakers on a well trodden path, but broaden your mind, experience and understanding through travelling in other countries of various cultures. It is best to travel alone for maximum experience. With hindsight, I am sure that my travels as a 20 year old and younger helped to give me the flexibility and adaptability to make a sudden move from one life direction to another. When travelling freely, you can always go just where you want to go, and the same can be true of your working life, or careers, if you have that flexible attitude from the beginning.

2. Most people have interests and talents that are quite separate from their primary career ambition. Always try to develop those skills and talents in parallel to your existing or imminent career. The more skills you have, the more knowledge you have, the more likely it is that, when the time comes to make a career change, it will be that much easier.

3. When in a chosen career, always add new skills and keep up to date with developments in that career. The opportunity may come along for you to specialize within that career, or diversify from it.

4. Plan your life in 5 year blocks. It is amazing how much can be achieved and changed in 5 years. My own life and working life bear little resemblance to even 7 years ago, and has changed drastically in the last 4 years. Formulating a 5 year plan for yourself at 20, 25, 30 and so on can be a great help in getting your prepared for all sorts of changes and developments. When formulating that plan, consider your career options during that coming period, and what you can do over that 5 years to prepare yourself for a career change beyond that 5 year period.

5. Have a program of self improvement to increase your confidence and prevent or overcome fear. Many people stay in the same job far too long, because of fear of change. Using meditation and relaxation techniques can help in this area of your life.

6. Keep control of your finances, and develop a financial success system . Always budget effectively, and never spend beyond your means. Always think in terms of building your assets. Saving from your monthly and income, and learning to invest wisely, can help you build wealth while most of those around you are borrowing, overspending, and digging a financial grave.

Why is a financial success system important when it comes to career change planning? Poor finances can be an inhibiting factor in making a career change. If your finances are in good shape, and you have adequate reserves, you have more time to switch successfully to a new career, even a new way of life. Financial fear can be a big drawback to making a career change.

By adopting some or all of the above tips, you should find yourself better prepared in the future to make a career change. Hopefully, that career change will be one that has evolved from your own desires, your own plans. However, sometimes career changes are forced by redundancy, technical developments in your chosen career, companies being taken over or going bust, outsourcing or other change in your working environment. Be prepared.