Your Guide To A Successful Career Change
So you’re considering changing your career?
It’s a big step and let’s be honest, it can be a little scary.
However, breaking it down into smaller chunks and working through it step by step will ensure you nail it, first time round. Who knows, it might well be the best decision you ever make!
We’ve together a guide to help you through the process. It’s free to download and is chock full of all sorts of resources to help you find your perfect career.
You can work through it on the web page, or download the full Ebook below – whatever suits you best. However we feel there is some magic in putting pen to paper, so recommend printing it out and doing it the old fashioned way.
Ready to make some positive change? Let’s begin.
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Part 1 – Is it the right time for a career change?
- Is it the right time for a career change?
- Why work is the best (if you’ve found the right work)
- How to know when it’s time for a change
Part 2 – Identifying your strengths
- Setting 12 months goals
- What are your interests?
- What are your skills?
- Identifying your ideal workplace
- Identifying your ideal role?
Part 3 – Nailing that career change
- Your skills reviewed
- Researching your target market
- Networking – who can help?
- How to ace that interview
- Why are coaches worthwhile?
Part 1 – Is it time for a change?
Is work really that important in life?
When you ask people what their perfect life would look like, it’s common to hear the answer “I certainly wouldn’t have to work”.
But work itself isn’t the problem, is it? Just look at the richest individuals in this world. These people could easily sit on the income from their investments and spend time sailing the world on their yachts. Yet more often than not they still work.
We seem to have a shared idea that work is a drain on life, the strenuous and often boring payoff for the fun we can have.
This isn’t how it should be.
Work ought to be another element of our successful and complete life – just as important as quality time with family, developing friendships, keeping healthy, growth, and spiritual development.
And just as any of those other aspects of life can be (and should be) work can be great!
So ‘Work’ itself if not the problem. It’s when your work is directed towards things which are incongruous with who you are, what you value, and where you want to be heading.
That why we’ve put together this guide to help you get your work directed towards the work that you will want to do.
Because you know what? Good work is awesome. Fulfilling. Exciting. And you deserve to be doing it.
Why work is the best! (if you’ve found the right role)
It’s important to remember, work CAN be a wonderful thing. If you’re struggling to believe us, take a little look at this.
A good job gives you so many things.
- Having a role to play in society gives independence, and boosts self esteem
- It helps develop one’s social networks and provides a sense of belonging.
- It gives a feeling of purpose.
- It gives a solid anchor to build upon the rest of our life around.
- Earns you your own money.
Not to mention the positive impact that good work can have on our physical health. It has been proven time and time again to be good for physical and mental health, and wellbeing.
The last year and a half has been tough on all of us, and in many cases has taken a heavy toll on mental wellbeing. Research shows that one of the best ways to manage and encourage the healing process is to be immersed in good work.
But what constitutes Good Work?
Well, that’s really up to you. The work that brings these benefits for others is often not the same as it does for you, and visa versa.
In general, we believe good work should
- Interest you
- Be in line with some skills you have (and provides the opportunity for skills to learn)
- Be in line with your values
- Promote good mental health and reduce stress
- Allow an element of autonomy and control
- Support a good work-life balance
- Offer opportunities to grow and progress
- Strengthen relationships and networks
However, you are unique. You may not value some of the above and may have your own thoughts on what ‘good work’ means to you. Perhaps it means working in an outdoor environment? Perhaps it means feeling you’re making a positive difference to society? Having a think about these will make you understand more clearly what you value, and help you get there.
How do you know when it is time for a change?
You might be reading this and thinking – “Well I’m sure all that is true for some people, but I’ve been working for years and don’t feel any of the benefits you say should be coming my way.”
It’s a valid point. We’d be the first to say not all work brings these benefits. Indeed, work can be incredibly detrimental to your health and wellbeing if it is the wrong type of work, environment, culture, and values. When you realise that yours is not Good Work, it’s time to get out (yesterday).
Sometimes its not as easy that. After all, how do you really know? Well we’ve put together a list of 11 of the most common reasons our clients have told us that they knew it was time for a change.
Take a little look – if you find you’re relating with many of these points, it time to get in touch.
11 signs that it’s time to change your job
- You don’t feel challenged
- You struggle to see what impact you’re making
- Your colleagues have all left or been promoted
- You see no room for growth
- It feels like *sigh* work
- You’re often ill / chronically tired
- Money is the only reason you’re still there
- Your personal life is suffering
- Your work self if not a true reflection of your real self
- You hate talking about your job with others
- You’re unhappy
Read our full article here. If you’re finding some of these points all too familiar, don’t worry! You’re on the right track. Now it’s time to get stuck into some worksheets.
Or if you want to fasttrack your success, get in touch with one of our coaches.
Part 2 – Identifying Your Strengths
The importance of clearly knowing what you want
‘Cleary’ being the optimal word here. After all, hazy targets that move around are the most difficult to hit. One clear, well defined target is worth many vague ones.
But how do you go about defining that target?
It can be surprisingly difficult to dive straight in and fish out exactly what you want. Often, we feel we know exactly what we want but when it comes down to describing it we have a hard time pinning it down exactly.
Starting off general is a good way to begin. Thinking of the answers to questions like “Where do I want to be living” and “How much do I want to be earning” is a strong start.
Have a look at the table below and try and fill in where you’d like to be in 12 months’ time. Forget about realistic and embrace the creative.
What are your interests
The best way to know you’re doing Good Work is that it interests you. A job that bores you is not worth your valuable time. Whats more, it’s unlikely you’ll be very good at it; not because you don’t have the capacity, but because you just won’t be motivated to nail it.
It’s important to find your interests – its there where you find your success.
Check out the table below and have a go at filling it in.
Be creative – you may not see now about how your interest in collecting funny looking rocks helps the job finding process. Researchers who travel the world searching for micrometeorites would beg to differ.
What are your skills
The next step is to identify what skills you already have.
This will help you see more clearly what you’re already good at, which then feeds into understanding what you enjoy doing.
Now don’t worry too much about what you think employers a looking for, and don’t be self-conscious. We’re going to refine these skills later – now is a time to brainstorm!
Again, be creative. Soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Being able to read a room and make people feel comfortable can be as important as analysing balance sheets.
Step 1 – Grab a sheet of paper and write down all of the skills you have. Fill the sheet – the messier the better! Think of every job you’ve ever worked in, every activity you participated in at school or university, everything you do outside work and education like hobbies.
*Tip* – Take a look at what you wrote for your interests and jot down every skill you have needed to develop that interest.
Step 2 – Take a look at the tables below. We’ve put together the broad categories into which you can assign most skills. Find the right category for each of the skills you’ve listed and try and write down as many examples as possible of when you’ve used that skill.
Step 3 – Score your ability in each of those skillset from 1-10. This will help you identify your main strengths.
My Ideal Work Environment
We spend on average of 30% of our lives at work.
That has the potential to be a very depressing figure. Certainly, if you don’t love you work, or the environment in which you’re working, that’s a lot of wasted time.
Yet, there’s absolutely no reason it should be. Loving the work, loving the environment, and loving the people you’re working with is entirely possible. Remember, you’re going to be spending a large chunk of your day-to-day life in the environment you choose, so make sure to define exactly what you want that to look like.
*Important point* Work Environment is not just the view you’re seeing from your desk. Its everything from the team culture to the type of work you’re engaged in, from the feel of the atmosphere to the physical space you’ll be in.
Step 1 – Have a look at the list of possible work environments below. Rate them 1-10 to show how important they are to you.
Step 2 – Take the ideas from step one and list them under Essential, Nice to have, and Not for me. You can also add any other elements of a work environment that are important to you.
My Ideal Role
Now it’s time to put it all together. Write yourself a paragraph or two that sums up everything you’ve concluded. It should be a summary of what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, and what environment you want to be working in.
Here’s an example ;
“I have always loved spending time watching animals and learning about the natural world. Due to my interest in this area I have built up a wide breadth of knowledge of zoology. I would most likely pick up a scientific magazine about the most recent zoological research and new creatures found in the amazon.
I enjoy reading, and creative writing. I am active and feel at my best when I’m working towards a physical challenge. I enjoy taking photographs and creating short films.
I am skilled at framing photos and capturing and editing visually striking videos.
I enjoy travelling the world and spending time in the outdoors. I don’t really like working in a big group; I prefer to be in charge of my own projects and don’t like having to ask permission to do things. I get bored easily and thrive working on shorter projects. I would rather to spend most of my time outside, but if its not possible I would still be happy as long as I could get out regularly.”
*Tip* Constantly check back across the answers you’ve written earlier – your interests, skills, and preferred environment.
Part 3 – Nailing that career change
Now we’ve established the most important things you should be keep in mind when looking for that perfect role. Knowing your interests, skills, and the workplace you want to be spending time in is an excellent start.
Now it’s time to put it into practice!
You will finish this section with a solid trajectory to get you a job that suits you. We’ll put together a comprehensive list of your skills and examples to use in interviews, a methodology for one of their best way to find your perfect role, as well as interview best practices to make sure you succeed.
Your Skills Reviewed
Having looked at the wide range of skills you have, it’s now time to condense them down into the most relevant ones which will be sure to make you stand out at your interview.
In the table below, write down three (or more) events that mark true highlights in your life. They can span anything from contributions at work (e.g. winning the much sought after contract) to personal achievements which showcase your skills (e.g. studying for and getting your pilots licence whilst juggling a degree). Every achievement requires a range of skills needed to have succeeded, not just one.
Take a look through your skills list, and the examples of times when used, and shortlist the ones that you think will best apply to the type of role you want to aim for.
Identifying and researching your target market
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what sectors you want to work in, what kind of work you want to be doing, and the environment that you want to be surrounded it, it’s time to get researching and see what’s out there.
Researching can be exciting! Just a quick Google search about “What kinds of jobs are there in the XYZ sector?” or even “best jobs where you get to work outside” will start getting the ideas flowing.
At school, were you ever told the job you’ll be working in 10 years time hasn’t been invented yet? Well in many cases they were right. There are so many roles out there that one would never think of …but might just suit you perfectly.
There’s an old army saying – “Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted”.
If you find yourself saying “I’ve been spending days doing nothing but research without making any concrete steps” remember that ^. It is far more important to take a week to find a job that will bring you happiness, than to finish in a day and pick the best of a bad bunch.
Remember, we’re not searching for any job that will do – the goal here is to be searching for the job that suits you and makes you come alive. Take more time than you think you’ll need – this is not one to rush.
Step 1 – Online research. Every time you see a type of job that might fit the bill, then note it down.
*Tip* Once you’ve exhausted one sector, why not change tack completely and start researching jobs in a totally different area (where you have interest and applicable skills)? You may be just as well suited to become a mountain guide as you are a construction estimator.
Step 2 – Narrow it down. After you have gathered a solid list of roles that interest you, run them each through the questions in the table below, aswering as best you can. This will help you really understand just how much the roles suit you and make it easier when it comes down to choosing your favourites to chase down.
We’re going to give “writing the best online job application” to its own guide.
But there is one way to go about your job search which we will explore…
Love the fact or hate it, sometimes it’s all about who you know.
The less qualified or less capable sometimes do come out on top simply through merit of their connection. Unfair? Certainly, but you’d be remiss to not be exploring your network for just such an opportunity.
Now this is by no means the primary way of finding jobs. The classic route of online applications is still the likely route to getting that role you desire.
However, devoting a part of your ‘job search’ time to exploring your network is worthwhile. It might well be a game changer.
Step 1 – Take a look at the table below and write out one yourself with the same headings.
– Then list as many friends and acquaintances, no matter how distant, who may be able to help. Your elderly Aunt in Maidenstone may know the mother of a FTSE 500 CEO so try not to limit yourself.
– To help prioritise the contacts, write down the likelihood of them being able to help and in what way (i.e. are they connected to the profession or the environment (e.g. catering) that you would like to target) and secondly how likely they are to help.
*Keep in mind* Someone out there knows the perfect person to help you. Don’t get discouraged.
Your priority is NOT to ask them for a job, but to learn from them and hopefully to be introduced with a warm recommendation to someone who will give you a job or continue to help you in the right direction.
Step 2 – Start getting in touch with them in the most appropriate way. The best methods are by telephone or letter (our favourite as it allows you to add a touch of personal flair. It takes a little longer, but in a world of emails and telephone calls, a letter really makes you stand out).
– Ask those outside your target sector if they know anyone who works in the industry. Tell those working within the sector that you are very interested in entering that field and that Jim Smith or Aunt Mary thought they could give you some useful advice.
– Ideally, you are asking for 15 minutes of their precious time in which to pick their brains.
– At the end of the meeting, ask them if they would be prepared to introduce you to other helpful people in the sector. Ask them if you can connect with them on LinkedIn
– Afterwards, write and thank them warmly – even if they weren’t particularly useful. You never know, they may remember you in some future conversation.
How to Nail that interview
Interviews may be formal or informal, face to face, via telephone or online. Whatever the format, err towards the formal. And remember the interview continues until you have left the building, so no tango-ing in the lift.
Prepare (at least a few days before the interview).
· Find out about the key people – who is interviewing you.
· Know the organisation, its competitors and the current environment.
· Be confident in your skills and their relevance to the role you’re being interviewed for. Illustrate these with specific examples. Be prepared to provide further detail, building upon the points made in your CV.
· Know what examples you want to give to likely questions – practise your responses aloud.
· Arrive early – at least 30 minutes before and go to a café across the road. Take the opportunity to check yourself in the bathroom and if nervous, do a couple of star jumps! Remove the spinach from your teeth.
· Turn off your mobile phone at least 30 minutes before – last minute ‘good luck’ calls are likely to distract you from your preparation.
· Be tidy and well presented; don’t wear anything too tight or too short.
· Let the interviewer indicate where you should sit. Look relaxed but don’t lounge. Don’t lean on the table.
· Listen carefully to the questions. It helps to repeat them silently to yourself (without the lip sync), because you’re more likely to answer the question they asked. Always offer examples where possible.
· Concentrate on your strengths – don’t boast but be confident in what you can bring, and this can include lessons learnt from mistakes made. (This always makes a favourable impression).
· Be yourself, confident, relaxed but not arrogant. Keep eye contact for at least 80% of the time. If there are two or more interviewers, include them all in your responses.
· Breathe and talk slowly. Remember to pause.
· Show yourself to be discreet and confidential – even if asked about a past employer and what caused you to leave. Avoid criticising.
· Be aware of how you are communicating and how they are responding. If the conversation falters, pick up on any areas in which the interviewer has shown interest. But don’t waffle nervously. Some interviewers like to have some silence to test the interviewee’s ability to deal with an uncomfortable situation – silence! A quiet smile will do the trick.
· Show real interest and enthusiasm for the role and the organisation.
· Ask for the job (“Given everything that we have talked about, are you in a position to offer me the role?”).
· Follow up by email or telephone call.
Why work with a coach
“Everybody needs a coach” – Bill Gates
You’re awesome. You really are.
You’re taking the steering wheel of life and working hard towards your future. Frankly, there is nothing more badass than that. You can do it on your own.
But here’s a little secret; nobody, no matter how self-made they say they are, did it without someone helping in the capacity of a coach.
It might be a parent, it might be a friend, it might be a teacher or lecturer. However most of us aren’t lucky enough to have someone who they can talk to who has
– Unconditional positive regard. Zero judgement. Zero preconceptions. Just motivation to help you get what you want.
– A wealth of experience helping people make a success. (Oh yeah, they’re good)
– Time allocated to focus entirely on you and your goals, no one else.
– Tried and tested methods to organise your goals and fast track your journey to success.
The best way to get good at tennis is with a coach. The easiest way to pass your driving test if with a good instructor. Don’t even begin to tell me that you’d learn to fly without at least a little help from a professional. Nailing your career is exactly the same. You can do all of these things yourself – but if you’re motivated to be your best self, and soon, why would you waste another moment?
If you’re feeling like fastracking your success – get in touch.
We hope you’ve found this Career Change Guide useful. We’re always looking to be as helpful as possible when it comes to anything ‘Careers’ so let us know in the comments below what content you’d like to see. Do you have any burning questions? Would you like our coaches to write about a specific topic? Drop us a comment and we’ll get on it.
Thank you for reading,
The Forward Coaching Team