With the days growing shorter and signs of autumn slowly beginning to spread through the trees, your kids are gearing up to go back to school. You’ve stocked up on new shoes and uniforms that they’ll outgrow in mere months, along with every type of pencil, crayon and notebook possible.
Now your children are quivering with both excitement and nerves, thinking of all the new challenges and opportunities the new school year will bring. And perhaps this year, if you find yourself searching for a new career, you can relate to their anxiety.
Whether you’ve been made redundant, are returning to work after raising young children, or you just want a career where you can make a difference, changing careers can feel like a daunting task. Below we share five tips to help you navigate the waters of a successful career change.
1. CV Overhaul
Once you’ve decided on the new career path you want to pursue, one of the first things you’ll need to do is to rewrite your CV. Rework your CV so that it is angled towards your new career, showcasing those relevant skills that you have picked up along the way that will be relevant to your desired role. Without doing this, prospective employers and recruiters may have a difficult time seeing why you would be the right fit for their opportunity. It might seem entirely obvious to you that your experience in ‘x’ will make you perfect for ‘y’ but don’t rely on the reader to make that connection – spell it out for them.
Also, bear in mind that similar roles within different organisations may require slightly different backgrounds and experience, so it’s always a good idea to save a separate copy of your CV and cover letter tailored to a specific job specification before submitting your application. Be sure to explain why you’re applying to this organisation in particular – demonstrating a specific interest in what they do will put you above those who give the impression that they would accept any job available.
2. Do Your Research
Familiarise yourself with trends and news in your chosen industry, as well as commonly asked interview questions for the role so that you’re not caught out when you begin meeting potential employers. Be prepared to discuss why you want to make a career change and be able to back up your reasons. The more you can present your career change as a long-held ambition you have carefully considered, rather than something recently decided on a whim, the more successful you will be.
Study the typical structure of the career path, any industry laws, and spend some time researching the typical salary range for your chosen profession. Reed produce extensive information about average salaries in the UK, or if you’re interested in finding out more about a particular sector, for example charity and non-profit, industry experts create salary surveys that offer helpful information.
3. Dive In
If you feel that you have a few skill gaps on your CV, do your best to fill them. If possible, sign up for courses and seminars that will help build your knowledge and skillset.
If you aren’t in the position to take a course or attend a seminar, you can learn a lot by following industry influencers on social media and signing up for newsletters. Immerse yourself in the culture that surrounds the profession so that you know as much as possible about your desired role.
Employers tend to favour those already working within their industry, so if you’re changing sector they’ll want to see that you’re genuinely committed to your new direction. Using the charity sector as an example again, getting involved with (or better still, organising) charity events an on ongoing basis would demonstrate a real interest and help to compensate for a lack of previous experience.
Courses, seminars or voluntary activities will look excellent on your CV and reinforce how qualified you are for your desired position. This shows initiative and will impress potential employers, letting them know that you’re willing to go the extra mile to learn any skills necessary for the role.
4. Talk to People
Networking is one of the most valuable tools when seeking a career change. If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, make one. If you already have a profile, join groups relevant to your new career path so that you can start making valuable contacts.
Make sure you talk to any friends, acquaintances or family members who can help you in your job search as well. If you think hard enough, you probably know someone who works in your desired industry, or at least knows someone else they could put you in touch with.
It’s also helpful to seek advice from specialist recruiters operating in your chosen field, as they can advise you on any questions or concerns you have, and can also make you aware of relevant roles.
5. Be Patient
Remember that when you’re changing careers, it can take a little longer to secure a new job than it would if you stayed along the same path. In a lot of ways, you’re starting from scratch, so it’s important to remain patient throughout the process. You’re likely to be competing with others already working in your chosen field which may seem daunting, but many professions have a shortage of suitable, available candidates, so opportunities for talented and committed people to get into the sector do arise.
Also remember that for your own sake, you don’t want to rush into anything. If you’ve decided that you want to change your career, it’s because you’re looking for something specific, which can mean there are fewer opportunities out there. Don’t lose sight of the end goal – keep working away, stay focused on what really matters to you in a new career, and the right opportunity will come.