Posted by Robert Half on 07 May 2015
This article is the first in our "Changing Careers" series. Discover the other articles in this series below:
- How to discover the skills I need for my new career
- Video: How to apply for the career of my dreams
- How to write a cover letter for a new career
- Quiz: What type of career suits you best?
No matter how old you are, changing your career is not an easy process. For many people, the risk of not just changing job but an entirely new career is something they dream about but never put into action, because they perceive the outcome to be uncertain, too daunting or fraught with financial dangers and pitfalls. In this article, we identify the (often negative) reasons why do so many people put off making a career change.
The issue of money – or more precisely, a loss of income – tends to stop many people from seeking out a career change. This is especially prevalent in older employees. Often they have a well-paying job but may have reached the limits of their career ambitions for their particular role. Starting again in a new career can often mean beginning at the bottom, which for many means less pay.
It is a tough decision to make, but it is important the bear in mind that this is only one potential scenario in a career change. Sometimes, a switch in role can mean more cash in your wallet and you should research your new career's potential pay with an Industry Salary Guide or income calculator.
Alternatively, rather than dismissing the idea of a new career based on finances, look for ways you can budget the switch. Put some money away and create a financial buffer to support your decision, so that when the time comes to change from one career to another, you won't feel the pinch in your hip pocket.
Lack of confidence
It’s common for employees to stay in a job for a long time simply because they are afraid to back themselves to make the career change they desire. Their doubts often spring from a lack of confidence that someone will employ them, especially if they have no experience. Again, this is just one scenario and often the most negative potential outcome.
Experience is not everything and it is not uncommon for a potential employer to reward proactive candidates who have demonstrated ambition and enthusiasm for a role, even if they lack experience.
In these situations, you need to back yourself, because you need to convince an employer to back you. Work to improve your confidence by reaching out to those in your desired industry. Talk to them and find out what it takes to do their job. Establish connections, research the people and products or even become involved in the industry on a pro bono basis. Ask to intern in a company you wish to work for, so you can learn the ropes, build experience and confidence. Alternatively, hire a life coach or, more importantly, just have a go. More often than not you will swim rather than sink.
When you’re in a committed relationship, you need to factor in your needs and those of your partner and children, especially when you have a responsibility to pay bills and put food on the table. The best way to handle any potential relationship issues is to talk them out with your family. Discuss how a career change will impact your family’s lifestyle and finances. Discuss the problems and the solutions, and don’t just dismiss the idea without first hearing what your loved ones have to say. Many supportive partners and children will already know that you are not happy with your current career and will want to see you succeed in a job you love.
Lack of clarity
Some people want to change careers simply because they dislike their current profession. The problem is they don't know what they want to do instead. In this instance, it is time to gain some clarity. One way is to follow these simple tips: Follow your passion; do what you love to do or do what you are good at.
Answer some fundamental questions about who you are, who you want to be and what you need in a role. Learn how to discover the skills you need for your new career. Delve into your interests, hobbies, personality type, communication style and prime motivating factors.
Lots of people don’t bother changing careers, because they believe that they’re too old to do so – they tend to think it will take them too long to succeed in a new role or that they won’t be taken seriously by recruiters. Age is just an excuse. No matter what your age, it’s never too late to change career paths to something you really love. For inspiration, read about some of the many famous entrepreneurs who only started their successful businesses later in life.
Some people put off a career change because they think the timing is bad. Perhaps there’s a recession or you feel like no one is hiring at the moment. If this is your thought pattern, remember that in harder economic times, businesses look for the best, most motivated employees they can find. If you’re passionate about a particular career path this will come across in an interview and will make all the difference to your success in landing a great new gig.
Fear of failure
This is a common one, particularly for people who want to leave their current role in order to go out and start a business or begin consulting on their own. If you’ve been in a job for a long time, it’s easy to be scared of failing at something new. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of services available where you can access the new skills you need and that if you really don’t succeed you can always go back to your previous type of work if you have to.
Concern about “burning bridges”
When you’ve worked hard to get to where you are and have cultivated strong connections over the years, it can be daunting to change career and move away from what's familiar. However, there are ways to use your connections to help you find a new path. Likewise, your connections can be your biggest supporters in driving your ambition to find a role you that suits you.
Just because you are beginning a new career does not mean you are closing doors on your current work partnerships. Look for ways to make these people or connections work for you, rather than against you.