Switching fields is no easy decision
Not so long ago getting a job for life was a great accomplishment and the idea of changing career path was almost unthinkable. Today, research says, that people change jobs between 5 – 7 times in their lifetime, but changing field is less common as it is harder, can be scary and often takes quite a bit of courage. However, steering your career onto a completely different path can also be exciting and need not be as difficult as you might think. Of course it is not a decision to be taken on a whim and needs to be thought abot as long as you think about carefully.
According to a report by Indeed (October 2019), the switch often happens, (if at all), at around 39 years old. This makes perfect sense as 39 years old is the mid-point of working life where we have as much work behind us as we do ahead, and is possibly why the questionsraises its head: is this what I want to do for the rest of my working life? Do I feel fulfilled? At the same time, doubt creeps in too: what about all the experience I have in my field? Have I been working towards nothing? Am I going to start from the beginning at ‘X’ age?
So generally, people thinking of shifting gears take their time weighing the pros and cons, however, sometimes switching fields is a necessity rather than a choice.
Skills are transferable
In the past 12 months, some have been forced towards a complete career change. Some have found themselves out of a job because their industry has been hit hard. Others have taken advantage of the quiet time to rethink what they are doing, upskill and restart. Either way, Covid-19 has brought about change in the workforce and this has highlighted more than ever before that so many skills are transferable. Indeed, hiring someone from outside your industry can be an advantage, as the person will bring a new perspective and a different approach to the table. For example, now that many retail outlets operate on digital platforms, hiring a leader coming from the tech industry rather than retail could provide a much-needed competitive advantage. Also, critical thinking, problem-solving, interpersonal and organisational skills would bring value to any sector and are certainly not pertinent to just one industry.
Taking the leap
In any case, changing career is not without its challenges and there are some things to consider to ensure your switch will be a successful one:
- Back to the books! One of the reasons why it is probably easier to change career path today than it was in the past is that we have education at our fingertips, literally. There are so many courses, even free, where you can learn about whatever it is that you are interested in and what makes it easier still is that you can fit it into your day as there are no time constraints. So take a look at what courses might help you in your career move and get learning!
- Your skills. Consider the skills you have acquired over the years and you will definitely find that you have skills that are transferable to several other sectors. In which sectors would your skills be most valued? Likewise with your experience.
- Network! Network with anyone you know who works in the sector you’d like to move to. Do you know anyone who can help you make the switch? Get in touch and let them know what your interests are. Get some real insights into the industry. Some industries seem more glamorous from the outside so find out all that you can from the horse’s mouth.
- Your finances. Sometimes switching careers may mean taking a pay cut. Whilst many who switch career are ok with this, it may not be the case for everyone. Consider your financial position and what you are willing to accept.
Of course, the most important thing to consider is you. How will you feel if you were to start in a low-level position and not be the most experienced person in the room? The good news is that although you might feel like it, you are not starting at square one and the climb is much faster. Feel confident that your experience is of enormous value and find a way (a sector) where you can build on it whilst doing something new. Know your strengths… and finally, always remember that enthusiasm and a willingness to learn go a long way.