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Change careers successfully

Perhaps you’ve reached a point in your professional life where you need a new challenge, or maybe you’re thinking about a completely new career path.
Whatever your reason, a change in career can be difficult. However, if you successfully identify your transferable skills, it is possible to make a smooth and rewarding transition.

Many people are able to successfully reinvent themselves and even use their existing skills to begin something entirely new and different - from starting their own business, to moving to another industry completely.

Once you have identified which of your existing skills would prove valuable in your newly chosen field, it is essential to decide whether it's a fresh title, a different organisation or a completely new direction you’re after. Job titles and careers are not set in stone. In fact, career change is a natural life progression. Most studies show that the average job-seeker will change careers - not jobs - several times over the course of his or her lifetime.

It’s absolutely vital that you enjoy your job as this makes you more productive and motivated - factors directly linked to success.

The below guidelines for transitioning into a new career:

• Introspect

Ask yourself the following questions: are you changing your career because you dislike your job, boss or the company? What do you enjoy doing? What excites and energises you? What is your passion?

Taking the time to rediscover yourself through your answers to these questions will help to direct your new career search. Identify which of your skills bring you the most happiness, and find careers which require these skills.

• Research possible careers

Spend some time researching the types of careers that are centered-around your passion. The more you’re interested in what you do, the more likely you are to succeed in it. For example, look into graphic design if you are an artist or consider becoming a blogger or editor if you are a talented writer.

• Transferable skills

Leverage some of your current skills and experiences in your new career. There are many skills (ie. communications, leadership, planning, and others) that are transferable and can be applicable to a new career. You may be surprised to find that you already have a solid amount of experience for your change of direction.

• Training and education

You might need to update your skills and broaden your knowledge if you are interested in entering an entirely new industry. Consider taking a course to ensure that you really like the subject matter and learn what you need to know to be productive and successful.

• Networking

Essential to successfully changing career, chatting to people in your field of choice may be lead to job leads. These professionals can also offer you advice and information and introduce you to industry players. Consider colleagues, friends, and family members as part of your network and broaden your network by joining professional organisations in your new field.

• Gain experience

In a sense, you’re starting your career from scratch again, so obtaining a part-time job or volunteering in the field can both solidify your decision and give you much needed experience. Work weekends, nights, whatever it takes.

• Find a mentor 

Changing careers is a major life decision that can be overwhelming at times. Finding a mentor can help you through rough patches.

• Inside change

It’s more than likely that you will need to switch employers to change fields, but perhaps there is room to move within your current organisation. A lateral move could serve as a springboard for a bigger career change.

• Entrepreneur

Consider starting your own business or consulting.

Feeling a bit unsure or insecure is a natural part of the career change process. Remember to be flexible about everything from your employment status to relocation and salary. Set positive goals for yourself, expect setbacks and change but never let these factors dissuade you from your dream.

Kay Vittee is the CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions.


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