How To Change Your Career Path
Published: 01 Nov 2017
This is an incredibly daunting prospect, which is probably why a lot of professionals don't bother. Changing your career path when you've already invested a significant number of years into what you're doing can seem impossible, but it's not. Believe it or not, it happens more than you think. The truth is, even if you stay on the same path, you’ll probably change direction many times throughout your career. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by considering your entire career from start to finish doing the same thing. If you feel strongly about it, JUST DO IT. The last thing you want is to look back on your career from your retirement home in Devon and think, ‘damn’. That’s no good for anybody.
So, how do you reinvent your career?
Take it slowly
Unfortunately, this generally isn't something that can happen overnight. The story of Deepali and Kristian Misra-Sharp is a shining example of how having a little patience can really pay off (let’s just ignore the fact they started out as Investment Bankers.) Deepali and Kristian decided to quit the glittering lifestyle they'd become accustomed to, to go back to university and train to become doctors after the tragic loss of their first baby. They felt they wanted to give something back after the incredible level of support they received from the NHS during this time. They now work with a much stronger sense of purpose. Training to become a doctor is obviously quite a drastic change, but if you're passionate enough about something, you really can do anything.
Check out careers advice and guides to see what you can do to build up the relevant experience. Perhaps you could try some freelance projects or become involved in a society or charity which is relevant to your chosen pathway. What else could you do?
- Take an evening course or qualification
- Shadow someone in that role to see if you even like it
- Learn new skills that will benefit you in the role
Know what you want
This sounds obvious but you’d be surprised by how many professionals find themselves desiring change but unable to articulate what that looks like. Make sure you’re fully aware of your goal so that you can take all the necessary steps needed to get there. Also, bear in mind that what you want right now might not be want you want in five years time, but that’s okay. You can always change your mind. There are no rules against this, it just might mean you have to explore a few different avenues until you find the right one.
Don’t act alone
This sounds a bit criminal, but it isn’t. It’s all about surrounding yourself with like-minded people who can encourage you to make these big changes. In turn, you will motivate them and it becomes a productive two-way relationship. Sometimes having this kind of support can give you that extra push to really make some changes. If you can't physically find anyone who feels similar to how you're feeling right now, why don't you take part in some online communities and forums like Reddit or Quora?
Build relationships with the right people
CVs and interviews are solid functions for hiring, but knowing the right people and building meaningful relationships can give you an advantage in the hiring process.
“I wasn't 'qualified' to work in the social start-up I fell in love with. But what I did have was a ton of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. That was never going to come across on my CV or resume. I didn't get the job there through a formal application. I got it because I built relationships with people in the organisation. I did some pro-bono work, which led to consultancy work, which led to an interview for a full-time job. Oh, and if you're curious to know, I had the worst interview of my life for that role. I so wanted the job that my brain froze, I stumbled my way through the questions, and I left thinking I'd blown it. Catastrophic. Or it might had been, had that been my first interaction with the team. But it wasn't and, because of the strengths of the relationships I'd built, I still got the job.” – Richard Alderson, Careershifters
It's not easy to consider something completely new. Sometimes it does require starting from scratch again. Other times, it’s simply being in the right place at the right time, with the right people. Life doesn’t always follow a textbook pattern, even where your career is concerned. If you’re looking for more career advice before you take the plunge, do it. If you feel you’ve acquired the right skills and you’re ready to browse jobs, what's stopping you from getting involved?