Have you ever had those moments when you feel that your current job or career is just not delivering the satisfaction, challenge or on-going professional development you are looking for and you want something more or different? It can be daunting to make a significant career pivot especially late in your working life but it’s far from impossible.
As we get older, interests and passions often change, prompting a desire to head in a new direction. Maybe you want to do good in the world, follow a new interest or passion or turn a hobby into a business. Change can also be motivated by new life circumstances such as job loss or a desire to have more work life balance, or to bring a great idea to fruition.
Whatever the motivation, if you do not have a clear direction, reflection about your values and what work you find most rewarding is a good place to start. Giving yourself free reign to brainstorm ideas about roles or business ideas, can help clarify your thinking. Imagine yourself in each of those roles if you can and slowly refine the list before beginning your research into each of them. Talking with others who have made significant career shifts can be another technique to get some clarity. Think about any additional skills you might need and what will be required to achieve them. Once the fog starts to clear, you can begin to think about how your existing skills align with your short list.
Often it will be your transferable skills that are most important in making a move into another field or industry. While transferable (also called soft skills) are usually developed over long careers. It can require some creative thinking to identify these skills because they are usually developed over time, and therefore taken for granted.
One exercise which can help reveal these skills is to write down the achievements you are most proud of and then identify the critical skills involved. Maybe you organised an important event for your firm or industry. What skills did this involve apart from your industry knowledge. Perhaps it was the ability to bring people on board with you and to get them to take on tasks or roles not usually part of their job description. Persuasion, then becomes an important skill to add to your repertoire and one you might never have recognized without this process. It might also be crucial if you want to move from accounting into fundraising for example. It’s helpful to do this exercise with another person or group of people because others frequently identify skills you don’t recognise yourself.
You can also utilise your existing professional skills to help identify these. Look for links between the two skill sets. For example, you might be a qualified accountant but the skill you have honed most over 20 years in the field is clear thinking. Similarly, your management skills may have helped you to develop the ability to be a deep listener.
Career transitions are likely to be more successful it you use your networks. They may help you make connections in the field you are interested in and act as touch stones for a reality check about your direction. They are likely to ask you the critical questions about why this field, are you prepared to start over, take a pay cut and will this change really change anything for you?
Career transitions can be a slow process but there are plenty of stories out there about people who have done so successfully. You could do worse than hunt them out and use them to motivate you to continue to work towards your goal.
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