Five ways to embrace an unexpected career change

Ditching your career and embarking on a new adventure isn’t for the faint hearted. It means saying goodbye to the comfort of familiarity and hello to upheaval and uncertainty. But according to careers advisor Hannah Morton-Hedges, the disruption that comes with a change in direction can be a force for good...

Hannah qualified as a careers adviser 15 years ago, following a career in corporate recruitment. Through her company, Momentum Careers Advice, she provides guidance to a broad range of clients including career changers and work returners, as well as students and recent graduates.

If your career is being turned on its head, here are five ways Hannah believes you can embrace it.

1. Do your research before you take the leap

Career change always brings risks. But the best way to lessen risk is to do your research.

Hannah says: "We spend a remarkably small amount of time researching career paths compared to, for example, the amount of time we spend researching which mobile phone contract to buy or where to go on holiday next year.

"So, talk to people working in the industries that interest you to find out the realities of working in that sector. Does it provide you with what you need? Look at live job vacancies and ask yourself 'can I do this job?' and more importantly 'would I be happy doing this job?'"

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2. Don’t worry about the stigma

There was a time when changing careers was relatively unheard of - and those who did go against the grain had to face the stigma of doing so. But that’s no longer the case.

Hannah says: "The biggest factor in the rise of the career change has most definitely been the demise of the 'job for life' culture. We are no longer guaranteed to walk into a job with an employer who will nurture our career over the next 50 years. And nor do we want this!

"Career change has become much more socially acceptable. The stigma has gone. Not only is seen as something we can do, but it is now something we should do, if the circumstances are right for us."

Read: How to discover if your current job really aligns with your values

3. Be realistic about your earning potential

If you’ve been used to earning a good salary and getting great benefits, changing careers and starting lower down the ladder can come as a bit of a shock.

Hannah says: "It is very important that career changers take a realistic and longer term view of earning potential in a new career.

"It is not uncommon to have to take a step down in terms of salary before you can prove yourself in a new work area, but with years of work experience already behind you, you can expect to progress at a good rate. Often, short term losses are quickly swallowed up by the longer term benefits."

 

4. Do it for the right reasons

We all have bad days in the office when we wonder if we’re in the right job, but there’s a big difference between an 'off day' and considering a different career.

Hannah says: "Career change needs to happen for the right reasons and it is fundamentally important that you are pulled towards a new career and not just pushed from an old one.

"It is essential to approach a career change with a very good idea of what you want and what you need from the world of work. Know the things that you absolutely can't compromise on, as well as those that you can."

5. Be ready to work your socks off

Some people get lucky with career change and it all falls into place. But in most cases, it takes hard work, determination and resilience to make the transition.

Hannah says: "To succeed with a change in direction, you may need to undertake some further training to become more attractive, and more relevant, to the labour market. Career changers may also find that the usual job search channels, such as using recruitment agencies, do not work in their favour. Instead, other approaches like effective networking can be a crucial part of career change success.

"But it’s worth putting the effort in, and it’s never too late to start. These days we can expect to be working for the best part of 50 years so a career change at 40, for example, still leaves nearly 30 years of work ahead of you to find success - and happiness!"

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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