Thinking of pursuing a different career path? It’s not as uncommon as you may think, but before taking the plunge, make sure that it’s the right step for you.
A survey by the accounting software firm Freshbooks revealed that 43 percent of American employees were considering making a career change, while 52 percent of the workforce in the UK were intrigued at the thought of joining a new industry.
“There are many reasons why people suddenly develop a desire to change career paths,” confides UAE-based life and career coach, Zeta Yarwood. “For many, it’s a shift in values – what we think is important in our 20s might not be as important in our 30s and 40s.
“Often we begin our careers chasing money, a respectable job title and being part of a prestigious company. But as we grow older, these things might become less important, and values such as fulfilment, contribution and spending time with family become the utmost priority. So we start to seek careers that will be more fulfilling rather than just collecting a
Whatever your reason, changing profession – whether it’s early on or during the later stages of your career – can be terrifying, no matter how sure you are of the decision.
“Jumping into a new career with no experience is the hardest challenge. People will hire you either as a service provider or an employee if they trust that you can do the job,” says Zeta.
“Without experience, you have no evidence of your ability. And without that credibility, people will find it harder to trust you over someone who has experience already.”
To counter this, start by carefully assessing why you’re looking to jump industries. Don’t rush into making a decision and carefully plan your actions before taking the plunge.
“Be clear on what you want and why,” Zeta stresses. “Make sure that your reasons are not because you want to move away from a job you hate, but because you want to move into a career you love. Focus on the benefits to you, your loved ones and others like the community.”
Your next step should be to research the new industry to see if you have the necessary skills to fit in. This may vary from one person to another as some might already be dabbling into it by working as a freelancer or running a side business as a hobby, making them better prepared to assume new roles.
“Take a hard look at any skill gaps, strengths and weaknesses. Become qualified by taking lessons, volunteer as an intern during your spare time or find a mentor to show you the ropes,” advises Zeta.
“Start networking with people who can compensate for your weaknesses if you’re setting up your own business so that you can focus on what you’re good at and get help when you need it.”
Finally, do a financial assessment and make sure you have enough savings to compensate for any potential initial loss of earnings. This applies whether you’re joining the workforce as an industry newbie or setting up your own business.
Having a financial buffer will help you stay afloat for a couple of months while trying to establish your footing in your new role.
Changing careers is not limited to specific age groups, so it’s never too late to embrace a new challenge that falls in line with your passion.
“The reality is it’s not about whether or not your age will work against you; it’s your belief that will stop you from taking action. With no positive action, there’s no positive result,” Zeta says.
“There will be moments of self-doubt because you will be doing something new for the first time – that’s natural. But as long as you are kind to yourself and appreciate that you’re learning and won’t know it all to begin with, you’ll be fine.
“Yes, there might be a year or two of discomfort and sacrifice, but if you’re clear on what you want and have the drive to go for it, the rewards on the other side can be great.
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez