Management & Leadership

5 Things to consider before making a Career Change

Nov 02, 2021
5 Things to consider before making a Career Change - SACAP

Making a career change used to be rare. However, with each successive generation, it’s become more common to change your career. In fact, currently as many as 70% of people are looking to change their current career path.

You may have heard the “statistic” that on average people will change their careers up to 7 times. There is no hardcore data to backup this exact number. However, the US Bureau of Labour Statistics’s research does echo it’s claim. What they found, in a study on Employee Tenure,  was that age played a role in job and career movements. Accordingly, changing occupation and jobs has become increasingly more common:

  • 55 – 64-year-olds averaged 9.9 years in the same occupation.
  • 25- 34-year-olds averaged 2.8 years in the same occupation.
  • 54% of those aged 60 – 64 have remained in the same job for at least 10 years.
  • 10% of those aged 30 – 34 have remained in the same job for at least 10 years.

Therefore, the reality is the younger you are, the more likely you are to change careers multiple times. This study also shows that life is more unpredictable now than it used to be. And that no career trajectory is set in stone.

“The younger you are, the more likely it is that you could change careers a few times.”

5 Career Change Considerations

While career changes are increasingly more common, it doesn’t make them easier to deal with. Ahead of changing your career there are things that need to be thought about. Especially, as this type of change usually carries a great degree of uncertainty. Here are five things to consider and do ahead of committing to a career change:

1. Timing Matters

These are possibly the most difficult questions to answer. How do you really know it’s time for a career change as opposed to a job change? Will the discontent within your current job and industry pass? Or is this an opportunity to find your true calling?

While you may never know for certain, these are some signs you should look out for:

  • Comfort Zones: You are staying because it’s comfortable, despite being uninspired or demotivated by your job.
  • Undervalued: Do you feel like your true worth is not being seen? When was the last time appreciation was expressed for your work or you had a pay raise?
  • You’re not Learning: You don’t need to learn something new EVERY day. But if you’re not learning new things or your workplace isn’t conducive to personal growth, then it may be time to move on.
  • Industry Shrinkage: The constant arrival of new technology means that many industries will be disrupted. Some will expand. However, many will shrink and some have already disappeared.
  • Lack of Enjoyment: While lots of a job can be a slog, you generally should still enjoy your work environment and work. Therefore, look out for signs that your workplace is no longer conducive to or obstructs personal growth.

2. Research is Important

Equip yourself with as much data as you can before making the switch. Some good areas to start would be:

  • Job postings: Look to get an idea of what employers are looking for in the industry you want to change to. This will also give you an idea of how easy it will be to find a new job. As well as if the industry is expanding or contracting.
  • Qualifications and Experience: Find out what qualifications are expected and how experience factors into the level of job you want to get. Is there an option to get on-the-job experience? Reality may be that you need to do some courses or partake in an internship programme.
  • Expectations: Find out what you can expect life to look like in this new career. Will you have less or more down time? Does it involve travelling, on-site visits or is it office bound? How will this impact your work-life balance?
  • Skills: Make a list of the skills you have picked up so far. Look at soft and hard skills. Do they match what you are going to need? Doing this will also assist you write your CV and is useful for job interviews.

3. Financial Preparation

Sometimes when changing careers, you could go for a while without a regular pay check. For example, if you need to study full time or do an internship to get suitable experience. Thus, be sure to take some precautionary measures, such as:

  • Creating an Emergency Fund: On average, most advisors recommend setting aside enough money to cover your costs for three to six months. Others suggest as much as 12 months, so that you can be certain to cover both living and unexpected costs.
  • Draw up a Budget: You need to know what your current expenses are. This also means factoring into your budget what your previous (or current) employer covered. For example, a portion of your medical aid or a car allowance.
  • Recreate a Salary: Ideally, what you want to be able to do is recreate the sense of a salary. A way of doing this is to have two accounts. One with savings and one for expenditure. On a monthly basis, transfer a set amount from your savings to your expenditure account. This will prevent you from overspending on your planned budget.
  • Financial Advisor: Getting an expert external opinion on your financial matters, ahead of changing careers, is wise. It’ll also help to decrease any potential anxiety levels. This is because a professional will provide you with unemotional and realistic insight, as well as advice on how best to structure your finances.

4. Seek out Good and Relevant Advice

The majority of people you chat to will probably give you subjective advice. This means that if they are conservative, they will tend towards advising against switching. Alternatively, if they are freer spirited then they will see no problem in jumping into a change. Thus, it’s best to seek advice that is useful and balanced.

Two groups of people worth chatting to are those that: Have changed careers:

  1. These are the people who will be able to give you a realistic view of what to expect. Ask them to share what difficulties they overcame and how they did this. It’ll also be helpful for you to chat to them about any uncertainties you might have.
  2. Work in your prospective industry: This will give you a better idea of what is required and what your average day could look like. Additionally, they might be able to assist you with suggestions on where to apply for a job.

“How an industry is changing needs to be part of your career change considerations.”

5. Supplement Your Qualifications

Are you unsure on how to beef up your CV, but know you need to? Then a great place to start is to look at studying a coaching course. Coaching is an expanding industry and a field which is being increasingly valued in how it helps people. It’s a career that requires active engagement with people to assist them to flourish. And it’s a field in which you will constantly be learning new techniques, more about people in general as well as yourself. These courses have also been shown to be beneficial to those who aren’t looking at becoming a coach. This is because coaching courses are a great way to expand and polish up both your soft and hard skill sets. Furthermore, they can assist you in understanding and preparing for leadership roles and adapting to changes within the business landscape. Once employed, you will be better able to mentor those you manage, and assist them in maximising their potential.

SACAP (The South African College of Applied Psychology) offers a range of coaching courses through their Management and Leadership faculty. These include full-time and part-time courses, as well as the option to study online. For more information, enquire now or enroll through the SACAP online portal.

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