When the idea of a career change plants a seed in our mind, what we say to ourselves in that early phase can act as a mental barrier, preventing us from taking action to achieve our goals and dreams. As someone who has been through one myself, I am fully aware it’s the first step that can seem the most difficult...
I always knew I wanted to work in a creative industry, but with my business degree and a need to pay the bills, I fell straight into a job that was the exact opposite of creative. I remember thinking - whilst knee deep in spreadsheets - this was only a temporary pit stop. However, as time passed, the reality of changing careers felt daunting and full of uncertainty.
The good news is, in the world of modern careers a lot of our fears are unfounded. British Business Energy reached out to its network to discuss the topic and gain insight into the most common myths around career change.
Myth 1: I will have to start at the bottom
This is particularly prevalent when the career change you’re seeking seems like a complete 180. I personally grappled with this fear, conjuring up images of myself as the poor unpaid intern. Yes, there is a possibility you may have to begin with a salary decrease, but the skills you have developed over your professional life are worth more than you may give them credit. The chances are slim you will have to start from zero.
I was fortunate enough to make my career move within the same company. By forging strong relationships with my managers and other department heads, I was able to make a lateral move when an opportunity arose. Use your network, ask for advice and seize opportunities to prove your passion and capabilities.
Aenslee Tanner who went from engineer, to public policy analyst, to leadership and performance coach at Accuren talked to us about identifying skills and tailoring your CV. "When I first started applying for policy jobs, I was using my untailored engineering resume. After applying for dozens of jobs and hearing nothing back, I decided to start reaching out to people who were working in public policy. Using the insight I gained, I went back and tailored my resume to connect the dots between the two professions, highlighting why my engineering background and skill set would be an asset in the policy world. This enabled me to start landing interviews and ultimately get a policy job."
Myth 2: I can only change careers once
Putting pressure on yourself to make a perfect decision may stop you making any decision at all. Remember Sheryl Sandberg’s metaphor in Lean In: modern careers are more like jungle gyms to navigate, than corporate ladders to climb.
Charlotte Edwards-May who made the move from hospitality, to property, to an account manager at a digital marketing company says, "I have changed careers a few times now. The one key thing that has tied my varied roles together is understanding how to deal with people, identifying what they need and how I can help them. Very few people know exactly where their careers will take them, so the first step is to figure out what you’re interested in and what your skill set is and then search for a job which matches this criteria."
Myth 3: I’ll be behind my peers
You’re probably more likely to progress in something you really enjoy and are interested in. You may start by taking a step down, but that needn’t mean you will be behind for long.
Caitlin Dawes who moved from PR to operations and brandings at LMP Educations comments, “I had to take what felt like a step backwards at first, but within 6 months in my new job I had received a promotion to surpass my previous level. I think my passion and tenacity put me in a position for my superiors to notice me. I have worked incredibly hard to make sure my ideas and vision were heard and that means in the long run I am better off.”
Myth 4: I don’t have time to requalify
Some occupations require qualifications, which may necessitate heavy time and financial resource. It’s important to know, that although this is a huge commitment, many people embark on the journey and manage to fit it all in.
Shehra Ali who went from a career in sales to becoming a qualified therapist notes, “Yes it takes time and dedication, but it most certainly can be done. I worked a full time job while qualifying to be a therapist. It took much longer than if I had been able to study full time, but I knew it’s what I want to do and I was devoted to getting it done. If you have the desire and the drive, you will find the time.”
Changing careers will come with challenges and there will undoubtedly be times where you feel out of your depth. Try not to place too much emphasis on your career change ‘fixing’ everything, but see it as the next exciting step on your expedition and an opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. You may find over time your passion and interest shifts again. All this means is it’s time to seek and launch a new chapter.