6 Tips To Successfully Transition Careers in 2017

Posted: 6th Feb

Stuck in a job that’s uninspiring or unfulfilling? Or maybe you’ve hit a ceiling, or you’re looking for greater job security, more pay and flexible working conditions?

There are myriad reasons why people change careers. Companies downsize and retrenchments loom. Career development prospects peter out. Management changes …

But for many, it’s simply the decision to find a career they’re truly passionate about – one that’s rewarding and they feel inspired by every day. They want a career that balances work and life – and makes them happy. Waking up to the same meaningless work and feeling numb on a daily basis is simply no longer an option.

Whatever the reasons, finding a job that you love, thrive on and meets your personal needs can often seem elusive, particularly if you’ve been working in a full-time job for years and have other responsibilities, such as family or financial obligations. So how do find your dream job and transition careers successfully?

Here are six top tips to help get you there …  

1. Find the right career for you

Feeling ‘stuck’ on a hamster wheel is no way to spend 40 plus years of your working life. On the flip side, a career that you’re passionate about, and allows for personal growth and career advancement can bring out your absolute best. Not to mention make your day to day life a lot happier!

Some people have an inkling about the field they’d like to move into – perhaps the fashion industry or marine biology – while others don’t have a clue.

If the latter sounds like you, start by thinking about the jobs you’ve always wanted to try but never had the opportunity to. Look to your childhood for clues. Did you always want to be a nurse and help sick children? Or work with exotic animals as a zoologist?

Now, think about what you’re really passionate about. Do you love creative writing, social media or psychology? Are you happiest while working outdoors and learning about nature? Does the buzz and energy of a social start-up company get your blood pumping? Are you fascinated by how the human body works, or solving logistical problems others can’t?

Write down your list of dream jobs, passions and interests and use them as a guide. Then start researching careers and industries that spark your interest.

Look online at university courses and the jobs they open doors to for inspiration.

Speak to friends, peers and professionals for advice and guidance. Different types of people will have different ideas. Be open. Explore. Test new ideas.

Start networking and reach out to experts in those fields. Most people are only too willing to share advice! And if it’s an option, try job shadowing or volunteering for work experience to see if it’s your right fit.   

2. Identify your needs

It’s one thing to find your dream gig, and another to make it work in the real world. That’s not to say you should be self-limiting. Oh no. If you’re going to make a career transition, think big, but use your due diligence and consider your personal needs and requirements. Happiness is about work-life balance, so you may need to factor in other commitments and responsibilities such as family and finances.

On a practical level, what do you need? Job flexibility to care for a young family? A certain income? Job security? Determine your needs and start researching your dream jobs to find out whether they’re practical. Don’t be dismayed if you have family responsibilities – many an entrepreneur has started a booming business from home after learning the necessary skills!

It’s also a good idea to find out if the career field you’re looking into is thriving or on the downturn. Look at where the industries and jobs are based, if it’s not near you is it feasible to travel or relocate?

You’ll have personal needs to consider too. You may need to feel a sense of pride in your work, or like you’re making a difference in the world. Or, perhaps you crave the buzz of an innovative environment, and love surrounding yourself with creative thinkers.

3. Hone in on your skills

Personal skills such as communication, teamwork, managing, organising and problem solving can be transferred from one job to another. So write up a list of skills you have that are transferrable to your new career, and then list the specific skills you’ll need to attain.

If you want to do something radically different, you may need relevant academic qualifications. You can always try university study with a shorter course like a Graduate Certificate, which will get you a recognised qualification that then counts towards a full Masters degree if you choose to continue, but only takes six months to complete.

Many courses offer work placement opportunities too, so you can get on the job experience – which is often required – and make industry contacts. Remember, many jobs can be secured through word of mouth, so while you’ll need the skills and academic qualifications to transition into your new role, making contacts in your new career field is just as important.   

4. Research courses that work for you

Many people transitioning careers will need to upskill and attain the required academic qualifications. Start researching courses that will help you get there.

Online courses are a great option. They’re flexible compared to conventional on campus programs, so you can study in your own time while balancing multiple responsibilities – and earn an income. This is crucial for those who need to continue in their current job and to meet financial obligations.

Online learning means your lectures and tutorials are delivered online, but you’ll also have the opportunity to interact live with your teachers and fellow students. You can join a study group that allows you to chat to your classmates, get direct support from your lecturers, get to know other students and make industry contacts.

Make sure you choose an accredited and nationally recognised institution with a good reputation, particularly for online education, which will not only look good on your CV, but also ensure you get a high quality learning experience. A motivating and supportive learning environment can considerably improve your study success and career transition.

5. Make a plan

It needs to be a workable plan that takes into account your personal and financial needs, boundaries, obstacles and goals.

An effective career transition plan with clear, achievable steps helps individuals move into their new field more seamlessly.

Researching careers, identifying your needs, determining what skills and academic qualifications are required and the course that will get you there is a great start.  

Address any obstacles head-on and find workable solutions.

If you’re concerned about managing family responsibilities, put support systems in place. And if you’re reducing your working hours to part-time, get yourself a financial plan.

The federal government’s Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) consists of five loan schemes to assist students with the cost of fees and these give eligible students the opportunity to defer payment so it’s likely you’ll be able to study now and then pay the loan back at a later date or when your income reaches a certain threshold.

If your career transition is related to your current field, speak to your accountant as there could be tax benefits. Online courses can also be often less expensive than on campus courses, which makes them attractive option.

It can seem overwhelming, but many people have successfully transitioned careers and you can too. Making a clear plan and setting small, achievable steps and working through them one at a time will help you reach your goal – a shiny new career!

6. Take action

You have the plan, now take action! Remember, this this isn’t just about your career, it’s about your life.

Start getting the academic qualifications you need. Make industry contacts, network. Get the experience you need. Do pro-bono or volunteer work.  The only person who can make the transition is you, so do it now!

Syndey Morning Herald - Saturuday 4th Feb 2017