How to Make a Success of Switching Careers

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How times have changed.  Today, not only is job-hopping common, but there’s also a significant amount of career switching that happens at all ages.  Of course, it is easier to move into a different field during the earlier stages of your career, but there are many in their middle ages who are doing it successfully.

The reasons for switching careers vary, and may include:

  • Avoiding retrenchment during crisis or tough economic times
  • Enabling advancement because your current career is at a dead end
  • Achieving a better work-life balance
  • Attaining personal fulfilment through more meaningful work

The key to a Successful Career Switch is that it is strategically planned

  • Know Yourself – It is vital to be able to undertake a rigorous, honest self-analysis that enables you to have a realistic view of your strengths and weaknesses.  Having a great insight into what you do and don’t do well means that you can pragmatically assess what type of careers you will easily succeed in, and those that you may not be well suited for, even if they seem attractive to you.  During this self-enquiry, it pays to also ask colleagues and bosses to give you feedback on their perceptions of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Know What to Expect – The next step in the process is to thoroughly research the field you want to work in.  You need to know what education, qualifications and skills you need, as well as the level of competition, and the salary you can expect as someone starting out in the field.  You need to assess the opportunities and threats that will arise from you making the move.  It will help to identify and list your current skills that will transfer well to your prospective new role.  If you are facing a situation where the switch is going to require sacrifices such as a much tighter household budget or leisure time spent studying, you need to think well about those consequences and fully discuss the impact of them with your family members.   
  • Know ‘A Day in the Life of’ – You can take your research to a deeper level by networking to find a successful mentor or a coach working in the role you want.  This will give you a unique insight into what their actual job entails and what makes them successful.  It would be ideal if you could arrange to shadow them at their work-place for some time and gain first-hand experience to help you decide if you really do want to make a career switch.

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