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How to change career direction

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Everyone gets unhappy with their job from time to time. But if you’ve worked out it’s not the fault of your boss or colleagues and you’re simply in the wrong industry, a career change could be on the cards.

There are lots of reasons you might want to switch jobs to a different area. Perhaps your lifestyle has changed, or your sector is in a downward slump. You may be feeling stressed, burnt out or just plain bored.

Although a career change is much more common these days, it’s still a big life change that can be daunting and stressful. Here are some pointers to help your leap.

Decide what’s important now

If you started in your current career straight from school or university, perhaps it was too early to make an informed decision about what job would really suit you.

At HR GO, we regularly meet career changers and advise them to have a deep think about their aptitudes, values and personality type to help them decide on a new occupation that better fits them.

So what are you good at that you’re not getting the chance to do now? What type of working environment would suit you, and who are your ideal colleagues? Do you like being surrounded by people, or prefer spending time alone?

By now, you probably have a good idea about what will make you feel fulfilled in your next career. Be brutally honest about the type of person you are, and how you’ve changed since you first started work.

Take small steps

Tempted by a dramatic big-reveal career reinvention? Instead, think about taking your new move gradually.

That might be arranging to shadow someone who works in the area you’re interested in so you can get some vital experience, or studying in the evening to add new skills to your portfolio. Maybe you can even see if you can make changes to your current role to prepare you for the shift.

Keeping to small steps won’t just protect your current salary for the time being, but you’ll also avoid jumping headfirst into a new area that turns out to be a bad fit.

Make the most of your current skills

Depending on your chosen sector, you probably need to add some new skills to your portfolio before you start applying for jobs. But don’t overlook the skills you’ve built up over the years, too.

Chances are you’ve picked up and honed skills like organisation, communication and collaboration in your previous roles. These are all transferable, so think how you could repackage them to boost your attractiveness as a candidate.

When it comes to mapping out the steps to moving into a career you love, the trick is being able to use everything at your disposal.

Get connected

There are all sorts of reasons why building up - and nurturing - a professional network pays dividends at work.

When it comes to changing career, relationships are key too. Need in-depth information on a particular sector? Draw on people you know, and spread the word that you’d like to speak to anyone working in your new field. Don’t limit this to your immediate circle but friends of friends and LinkedIn connections too.

It’s worth remembering that people working in your chosen sector aren’t just handy for researching your next career. They can also be a source of insider tips for when you apply for jobs. These contacts could even make all the difference between you staying in a job you hate, and landing a role that makes you fall in love with work again.

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