If you’re tired of your current career, it’s okay to want to make a career switch. No rule says you must remain in one career for life. Your placenta was not planted there. So why make yourself miserable when you know you can move on to something better, at least for your personality?
A career switch is considered normal. For instance, look at Nollywood, the biggest movie industry in Africa. Many of the popular actors were once professional bankers, doctors, lawyers, teachers etc., who switched to a more glamorous career on the screen. However, there are reasons and ways to make a successful career switch. If you’re interested, read this article.
What is a career switch?
According to Jennifer Herrity, a seasoned career services professional, a career switch is the act of pursuing an occupation outside of your current position. For instance, you may switch careers from teaching to becoming a banker. Also, a career switch doesn’t necessarily mean you will completely let go of your current industry. Instead, you can remain in the same industry but seek out management who can help you achieve your career goals.
Reasons for a career switch
Here are 7 major reasons why you may consider a career switch.
To feel more fulfilled
Many people start their careers in fields and disciplines they don’t like. For instance, a medical doctor with an inner ambition of becoming a musician will likely dump the stethoscope when he or she has had enough of the medical profession. Likewise, a lawyer who wants to own and run an NGO. Sometimes, it’s not about the money; it’s about finding fulfilment.
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To have a more flexible work schedule
Some jobs are gruelling. They take almost all your time, no work-life balance. So, many choose to switch to more flexible jobs to allow more time for themselves and their families or passions. For instance, a banker who is required to work even during the weekends may choose to switch to a teaching job to have more flexible time.
To earn a higher salary
A low-income earner always aspires to earn more salary. If they can’t find that in their current careers, they may switch to a more profitable career. For instance, a secondary school teacher may switch to becoming a banker.
To advance within an organisation
Remember, we said switching careers doesn’t necessarily mean switching industries or organisations. Many people have successfully advanced in their various careers due to this reason. For instance, an ordinary plate washer in a restaurant can switch to become the head chef in the same restaurant or organisation after learning the skills.
To reduce stress
When your current career is too stressful, you may consider making a career switch to a less stressful one. For instance, a pilot who travels a lot can switch to becoming an aviation coach to reduce the stress of too much travelling.
To work under a more preferred leadership team
There are organisations where you admire the management more than your current management team. This may prompt you to switch careers so you can find your way to working under the leadership team you admire. For instance, you may work under the Human Resources leadership team but prefer the tech guys. This can make you switch careers from HR to tech.
To feel appreciated
There is nothing better than being appreciated for your contribution in your career. However, if you’re not getting it in your current career, you may be strongly tempted to switch to another career where your skills will be better appreciated. For instance, your skills as an entertainer may not be appreciated in a religious organisation. But switching to becoming a radio presenter in the entertainment package will get you the appreciation you need.
Steps to take when switching career
Below are 10 simple steps to follow when switching careers.
1. Make sure you’re unsatisfied with your current career
Do you find your current job boring? No excitement? Nothing to look forward to? No prospects? Is there anything you can do to remedy the situation while continuing in the same career? Be sure to answer these questions before considering a career switch. They say the grass is always greener on the other side. So if you’re thinking of switching, be sure your reasons are valid before taking a step.
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2. Evaluate your skills, assets and value
Don’t even think about switching careers if you’re unsure of your skills, assets and value. To determine them, you need to look at your current job, the roles you have played, and how successful you’ve been in them. This will give you a clue about how valuable you will be to a potential new organisation when you eventually make the switch.
3. Brainstorm alternative careers
If you’re not sure of the career you want to switch to, you may want to begin brainstorming. Do some research. Ask your family, neighbours and friends. You may have to try a career coach or counsellor if they can’t give you convincing answers.
4. Check out job options
Find out as much as possible about job options available in the labour market. The internet is there to help. Take advantage of social media, blogs or job sites to find out about jobs that may suit you.
5. Shadow some employees in your chosen career
No one is asking to stalk innocent people but researching successful people in your chosen career is a great help. Job shadowing refers to observing a person at work because you’re interested in the same career. It’s a very normal happening in workplaces. Shadowing your former classmate is a great place to start. If you have a close family member who has a similar career to you like, you can set up a job shadow.
6. Become a volunteer or freelancer
You need to ease into the career you want to switch to. To avoid problems, start by volunteering in an organisation that suits your career of choice or become a freelancer. For instance, if you’re thinking of switching to publishing, consider working for a print media as a volunteer.
7. Go back to school
Target courses that will give you more information and skills that will help you switch to your chosen career. For instance, you can’t be a tech bro with a PGD certificate and teaching experience. You need to learn IT skills and other relevant skills to help you land firmly in the tech industry. Consider degree programs, certifications, seminars, workshops or webinars.
8. Upgrade your skills
Sometimes, you don’t even need to start courses afresh to switch to a new career. All you need is to upgrade your already-acquired skills to make a successful switch. For instance, if you’re a content writer, you can upgrade your skills to a content strategist.
9. Rebrand yourself
Your CV, social media profiles and cover letter should reflect your new brand. It may be difficult if your current career is different from the career you want to switch to, but not impossible. Consider how your existing experiences make you a better candidate for your desired role. Then write a personal statement and build your CV around it.
10. Look for opportunities in your organisation
Remember when we talked about switching from a plate washer to a head chef? This is one of many opportunities you can find in any organisation. All you need is to upgrade your skills and keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities. Talk to your manager about your interests.
Switching careers is not a walk in the park. But you can do it if you’re absolutely sure it is what you want, and follow the simple steps listed above.