As life expectancy increases, our working lives will get longer and many of us will be lucky enough to be working into our 70s and beyond. This provides an opportunity to move from the traditional model for our career and life (education, work, retirement) to something more flexible that enables us to enjoy a number of different careers with breaks interspersed throughout.
Often around mid-life, our focus shifts and we look for more meaning and purpose. Making the right career change for you on your return to work can enable you to pursue something that fits with your values, plays to your strengths and utilises your transferable skills. Rachel Wright, Career Coach, recently joined us for a webinar for members of our Professional Network and shared her 3 step plan for navigating a career change.
1.Take stock and understand who you are
- Reflect on what motivates you and interests you now at this stage in your life
- Consider what your key skills and strengths are that you’d like to be using in a new role – ask a few trusted friends to share what they believe your strengths to be when they’ve seen you at your best, or use an online strengths tool such as Gallup Strengthsfinder
- Look back over your career and reflect on the highs and lows. Why did you particularly enjoy a role – was it the type of work you were doing, team you were part of, organisational culture?
Capture on one page everything that comes out of your reflections and use this as a lens to assess job options.
2.Explore career ideas and gain clarity on what you want to do
- Expand your list of career ideas first before narrowing them down
- Carry out some research online to inspire and provide info on routes into professions (have a look at https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/ or https://www.mynextmove.org/ ) capturing the ideas that energise you the most
- Share these, and your one page reflection document with a few trusted people to ask them for advice about job ideas, and create a list of career options
- Step back and consider what excites you most and narrow it down to a maximum of 3 career change options to research further
Consider: Is this area of work increasing or reducing in demand? How far will I be able to use my skills/strengths I enjoy and what skills/strengths will I need to develop?
3.Take action steps towards making a successful career change
- Research your 3 chosen ideas further online
- Reach out to your network to speak to people who can give you further insights into these areas or help connect you to other people
- Use LinkedIn to connect with friends, former colleagues and new contacts working in areas you’re interested in exploring. Like and comment on other users’ posts who are working in areas you’re interested in to help get you noticed
- Attend seminars, events, networking groups and join professional associations to build knowledge and relationships including possibly finding yourself a mentor
- Explore opportunities for strategic volunteering to build your experience, confidence, and contacts – this could also lead to paid employment (see Strategic Volunteering in our Resource Signposts)
- Research free online training and courses to upskill, develop and build your knowledge (see here for a selection of retraining courses)
By diarising time to take small actions, you’ll move one step closer every day to making your successful career change.