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Considering a career change? Ask yourself these important questions.

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The pandemic has changed how many of us think about our work lives, and what we want from our careers. And if you’re considering a career change, you’re not alone.

Research shows that almost a quarter of UK employers are planning to change jobs in the next few months. And among them will be people who want to make a switch to a different role in a new sector. Because we all know from our own experience that being in the wrong job can affect our mental health. (Our own informal poll on LinkedIn showed a staggering 72% of participants were planning on leaving their current employer within the next year. That included 40% who were planning on changing their career too.)

But before you click ‘apply’ on some exciting jobs, take a pause. Carefully planning out your move step-by-step will help you make the best decisions about your future. And here are five questions you need to answer along the way…

1. Why are you considering a career change?

It may seem obvious, but it's important to analyse what your motivation is behind considering a career change. This will help you determine if it makes objective sense and if it will be a positive change for the long term. People change jobs at different stages of their careers for a variety of reasons. It may be out of choice, or out of necessity.

You might be looking to step up to more responsibility and a higher salary and feel there’s limited chance for you to grow in your current role.

Perhaps you feel your career goals or what you look for in an employer have changed. Or maybe you want to switch down a gear for better work-life balance and more flexibility. Since many employers switched to remote working at the start of the pandemic, being able to work from home for good tops a lot of wish-lists.

Of course, if your sector suffered irreversible damage during the pandemic, you might feel you have no choice. Moving to another industry or sector could be the logical next step.

2. What type of career excites you now?

Maybe you already thought you’d chosen a career path that suited your skills, interests and personality. But what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing might have changed.

As we know through our work at HR GO, many peoples’ priorities have changed since the first lockdown. We’re noticing that increasing numbers of candidates we get to know now want to do jobs that involve helping others, for example.

Think about any work or projects you’ve previously been involved in. Which ones have enthused and excited you? These needn’t be part of a paid role but could also be voluntary work. Which of your skills did they use? Are there any aspects of your most recent job that you love doing?

3. What new qualifications will you need?

Will you need sector-specific qualifications to make your next move? Or further training in a specific area?

Not all industries have mandatory qualifications, but this is where research is vital. Check out our guide to some free digital skills training in case you need to sharpen your skills in this area.

4. Do you have transferable skills?

Transferable skills include soft skills like teamwork, critical thinking, and communication skills. They’re skills that every employer wants, and they can help you land your next role.

What do you think will be the most sought-after skills in the new career you want to move into? The key is to think about the skills you’ve gained in every role and match those to the new career you want.

Focus on skills that cross over between sectors and work out how you can make them specific to the role or company you’re applying for. And if you feel a career change is somewhere down the line, seek out ways to develop extra transferable skills you need while you’re still in your current job.

5. Do you have the right experience?

It’s worth researching job adverts and job descriptions in your chosen field to see the type of experience they’re asking for.

But what if you don’t have the relevant experience on your CV? It’ll be harder to move into the new sector you want, surely? The key is to pivot your CV so it focuses on your work skills rather than your experience of specific roles.

Think about what you have to offer. Read more of our tips on how to tell your story through your CV and give potential bosses a real impression of who you are. 

6. What kind of salary will you need?

Can you afford your new job? If you want to change career for lifestyle or work-life balance reasons, you might end up earning less. This is especially if you must start in a lower position than you were before.

Try to find out how much your chosen new career will pay when you first start and calculate your outgoings. You can do this easily online with the Citizens Advice budgeting tool. Plus the HR GO Salary Guide, which is free to download, could give you an idea of how much various sectors pay. You can also use our quick salary checker.

Plans for career reinvention

Taking charge of your career might be the best thing you can do right now.

But before you set about applying for every job you see that sounds interesting, careful planning is crucial. Be sure to check out the free careers advice section on our website which offers free cover letter and CV downloads, interview advice, and tips on settling into a new workplace.

Putting in the groundwork now will help you take steps to a more meaningful or fulfilling career later.

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