• There are three likely reasons you hate going into work: your boss, your job and your career. Of those, changing careers is the hardest decision. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life paying for a decision you made in your early 20s (not exactly when we’re at our wisest. To those who’d call this ageist, we have one retort: beer pong). But how do you know if it’s the right choice, or where to start? Management Today visited career change consultant Joseph Liu to find out.

    There are three likely reasons you hate going into work: your boss, your job and your career. Of those, changing careers is the hardest decision. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life paying for a decision you made in your early 20s (not exactly when we’re at our wisest. To those who’d call this ageist, we have one retort: beer pong). But how do you know if it’s the right choice, or where to start? Management Today visited career change consultant Joseph Liu to find out.

  • 1. DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO MONDAY MORNINGS?  The first step for a prospective career changer is to take stock of your current situation. This question is the acid test for whether you’re fully engaged with your job. ‘If you do look forward to Mondays, it’s probably a good sign,’ says Liu. If not...

    1. DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO MONDAY MORNINGS? The first step for a prospective career changer is to take stock of your current situation. This question is the acid test for whether you’re fully engaged with your job. ‘If you do look forward to Mondays, it’s probably a good sign,’ says Liu. If not...

  • 2. ARE YOU BECOMING THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE? 
 ‘The organisations we work for mould us in ways we may not fully appreciate. Spending 40-60 hours a week in any job affects who you are,’ says Liu. Investment bankers take note.

    2. ARE YOU BECOMING THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE? ‘The organisations we work for mould us in ways we may not fully appreciate. Spending 40-60 hours a week in any job affects who you are,’ says Liu. Investment bankers take note.

  • 3. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY YOU SPEND YOUR TIME?  This applies both in work (what your job actually involves) and outside of it (your work-life balance). Do the parameters of your job allow you to spend time doing what you want to do?

    3. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY YOU SPEND YOUR TIME? This applies both in work (what your job actually involves) and outside of it (your work-life balance). Do the parameters of your job allow you to spend time doing what you want to do?

  • 4. IS THE PROBLEM WITH YOUR CAREER OR JUST YOUR JOB?  Now you know there’s a problem, but you won’t be able to solve it unless you know what’s causing it. If it’s your job, company or boss that’s the problem then trying an entirely new career could be overkill. If you’re in the wrong career, on the other hand, then no amount of moving about within your function or sector is going to help.

    4. IS THE PROBLEM WITH YOUR CAREER OR JUST YOUR JOB? Now you know there’s a problem, but you won’t be able to solve it unless you know what’s causing it. If it’s your job, company or boss that’s the problem then trying an entirely new career could be overkill. If you’re in the wrong career, on the other hand, then no amount of moving about within your function or sector is going to help.

  • 5. CAN YOU GET UNBIASED ADVICE?  You need to know how employable you’ll be in your new career. Find someone to talk to, so you can put your experience in perspective. Talk to people outside of your immediate network, because they can offer a fresh and unbiased perspective on what’s normal.

    5. CAN YOU GET UNBIASED ADVICE? You need to know how employable you’ll be in your new career. Find someone to talk to, so you can put your experience in perspective. Talk to people outside of your immediate network, because they can offer a fresh and unbiased perspective on what’s normal.

  • 6. IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME TO CHANGE CAREERS?  ‘Think of your career in chapters, and try to clarify what this chapter is about. If it’s to build your CV and professional credibility early on by associating yourself to a large organisation that you don’t feel passionate about, you could do that for a couple of years – knowing why you’re doing it,’ says Liu

    6. IS THIS THE RIGHT TIME TO CHANGE CAREERS? ‘Think of your career in chapters, and try to clarify what this chapter is about. If it’s to build your CV and professional credibility early on by associating yourself to a large organisation that you don’t feel passionate about, you could do that for a couple of years – knowing why you’re doing it,’ says Liu

  • 7. ARE YOU CHASING PERFECTION?  Changing careers is a big move and naturally you want to get it right. If you hold out for the perfect move, however, you’re unlikely to move at all.‘Start somewhere. Don’t let perfection get in the way of improvement. Moving in broadly the right direction is better than staying in precisely the wrong place,’ says Liu.

    7. ARE YOU CHASING PERFECTION? Changing careers is a big move and naturally you want to get it right. If you hold out for the perfect move, however, you’re unlikely to move at all.‘Start somewhere. Don’t let perfection get in the way of improvement. Moving in broadly the right direction is better than staying in precisely the wrong place,’ says Liu.

  • 8. ARE YOU SUFFICIENTLY FOCUSED?  When trying to make a career change, the people who are open to anything tend to get lost in the shuffle. Instead of using a floodlight to explore all the different opportunities, use focused lasers to explore two or three areas. If nothing else it will make you more memorable in any conversations you may have with hiring managers.

    8. ARE YOU SUFFICIENTLY FOCUSED? When trying to make a career change, the people who are open to anything tend to get lost in the shuffle. Instead of using a floodlight to explore all the different opportunities, use focused lasers to explore two or three areas. If nothing else it will make you more memorable in any conversations you may have with hiring managers.

  • 9. ARE YOU ABLE TO EXPERIMENT? A leap into the unknown is a lot less scary when it’s not actually into the unknown. Network with people in the industry you’re interested in exploring. Find out if it’s still interesting to you after those conversations. Alternatively, starting a small business or getting involved in a friend’s social enterprise could give you the taste you need.

    9. ARE YOU ABLE TO EXPERIMENT? A leap into the unknown is a lot less scary when it’s not actually into the unknown. Network with people in the industry you’re interested in exploring. Find out if it’s still interesting to you after those conversations. Alternatively, starting a small business or getting involved in a friend’s social enterprise could give you the taste you need.

  • 10. HAVE YOU GOT YOUR STORY STRAIGHT?  A danger is that employers may worry you’ll do it again. It’s important to be clear on why your current career hasn’t worked out and why the pivot is just a one-off. ‘Own your unique story, says Liu. Invest time communicating how you’re going to pitch it. Sit down and map it out in a way that’s clear and relevant to who will be hiring you.

    10. HAVE YOU GOT YOUR STORY STRAIGHT? A danger is that employers may worry you’ll do it again. It’s important to be clear on why your current career hasn’t worked out and why the pivot is just a one-off. ‘Own your unique story, says Liu. Invest time communicating how you’re going to pitch it. Sit down and map it out in a way that’s clear and relevant to who will be hiring you.

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10 things you need to know before changing careers

It's a big step, so make sure you know what you're doing.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 16 Feb 2018

Images: Shutterstock

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