25 Top Tips to Kick-Start Your Career Change

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to kick-start your career change
Careershifters.org , the UK’s leading dedicated online career change guide, has compiled practical advice from some of the country’s top career change experts to help you make a successful shift. Whether you’re just thinking about a change or you’ve already started the process, these nuggets of expert wisdom will help you create a career that really gets you going



to kick-start your career change

Assess your current position
If you’re unhappy in your career, it’s sometimes tempting to think that moving into a completely new arena could be the answer. However, don’t discount a less dramatic shift. You could move jobs within your company, you could find a similar role but in a different industry, or you could move to a different city or different country. Ask yourself what is it that you like and
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dislike about what you do. Do you just want to do anything as long as it’s new, or is there a burning desire to follow a specific career path? What do your answers tell you?


Leave for a new, but similar job


Stay and negotiate

Assess your current position and what it is about your job that you are unhappy about. You may realise that the job itself isn’t the problem, but that some things need to change for you to start enjoying it again. Work out what these changes are and see what can be done. For example, voice the issues that have been concerning you or ask your boss if you can work from home one day per week.

You may actually enjoy the activities and tasks involved in your job, but find that the people you work with, the company culture, or the objectives of your work don’t fit with who you feel you are and what’s important to you. Consider moving to a similar job but one that feels more in line with your values. If for example you are a frustrated PR in a large law firm you might find that a new but similar role working in a different industry brings all the fulfilment you were looking for.


Leave for something completely di erent...

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to kick-start your career change
natural to you that you miss it completely, either not seeing it or not valuing it. Notice and listen to what other people see as your strengths and natural abilities. What do people compliment you on? What have people said about you that you’ve dismissed in the past, but actually may have an element of truth? on making use of your real talents and leave the stuff you’re not so good at to the people who are! have thought “who am I to…?” Your new career may be found by recognising that you are more significant, valuable, worthy or important than you have believed. You can’t make a career decision from a depressed state – which is where we can end up when we feel stuck in our work. Go out and do what you enjoy, even if you don’t think you could ever make a living out of it. Often a creative hobby you love but haven’t touched for months can light your creative spark for thinking of career options. When we feel happy and positive, we usually attract happy and positive events. So give attention to making your life fun, and let that spill over into your quest for career change. ≥ Need more help with getting started?
Try the “Get Started” section on our website: www.careershifters.org/ getstarted

So you want to change career, but to do what?
Get to know yourself
What makes you come alive? What really motivates you? Start by thinking outside the box. You’ve probably only looked at yourself from one perspective. Step back and look from another. Look at your interests outside of work. What makes you feel excited, what are you passionate about? Listen to your heart. What does your inner voice keep telling you?


Who are your heroes and heroines?


Focus on your strengths


What do other people say about you? Sometimes the work you
were born to do is so easy and

It’s a good thing to be aware of where our performance is less strong, but to make a real success of your career, the most important thing to focus on is your strengths. What do you find easy that other people find hard? Understand your unique package of skills and abilities. Forcing yourself to “overcome” your “weaknesses” is a drain on your energy. Instead, concentrate

Think of someone whose job you are envious of. It could be someone you know or someone famous. What is it about these people’s careers or lifestyles that appeals to you? Talk to people with jobs you think you’d love to have to find out what it is really like. Too often we choose a job that looks good on paper but don’t think about what it will be like day to day.


It could be right under your nose


Believe in yourself

Have you ever said “if only I could find someone to pay me to do …“ Often you know what you love to do, but you don’t know how you could ever do it and get paid. Or it is the thing you keep avoiding, making excuses about, and rationalising away. It almost seems too good. So don’t confuse ‘I don’t know’ with ‘I don’t know how’. Acknowledge the what, and then figure out the how.

You may have been conditioned not to think too highly of yourself, think small or even belittle yourself. You may


Have fun!

Change happens best when we’re enjoying ourselves.

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to kick-start your career change
for change and a far better chance of looking in the right places for the right opportunity for you, then recognising it when you see it. focusing on what experience you do have. What are your strengths? What skills do you have that would be relevant to your new career? shortfall you may have skills-wise and how you might fill in the gaps. you want. When you look at things more positively, you can see the path you need to take and the real obstacles in your way. Then you can decide whether you are willing to take the action you need to get there.

I know what I want, but how can I get there?
Positive thinking
Instead of thinking about what you are trying to get away from, think about what you want to move towards. If you’ve ever said something along the lines of “I really can’t stand this job / role / project / my boss” you’ll know what this one means. You are more interested in how to escape from the present than where you’ll be escaping to. Try changing your thought process to ‘I’m looking for a job/role/project/ relationship with my boss that has/is X, Y, Z’. This helps you avoid going from a bad situation to an equally bad one. It also gives you positive motivation and energy



Build your confidence

When we want to change our line of work, we can sometimes be overcome by inadequacy that we don’t have the right experience. Nurture your confidence by


Do your homework

Instead of saying “I can’t have what I want” ask “What do I need to do to get what I want”
It’s very easy to get stuck in this belief. Yes, occasionally it’s true, but often it’s just a convenient excuse for not taking the actions and risks required to get what

To make any change as smooth as possible do your homework about your new chosen career. Research what it entails and what training you may need. Identify any


Create a realistic time plan

It is tempting to want to rush in once you know what you want, but take some time to look at the timing of the shift. What do you need to sort out, complete or make arrangements for in your life to give yourself the best chance of success? How long does it take to gain the skills that are necessary to make the move? What would be the best time plan for this move, both for you and for those around you? Once you begin to see the plausibility, the more real it becomes. ≥


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to kick-start your career change

Be honest around finances

Not only is a realistic time plan necessary but so is a realistic financial plan. Do you need to put savings aside before you make the move? Are extra costs going to be incurred by this new career? If you need extra finances for training where can that come from, what can you cut from your budget, what are you prepared to do financially to make it happen? Do a money diary for a month and see where your current earnings go. Are there some cuts that can be made? Make a solid financial plan for the move.


B uild your profile


Get out there and talk to as many people as possible
Talk to as many people already in the industry you want to move into about how they got into it and what would have made their way easier.


Imagine telling someone (who you don’t know) what you do. Respond as though you have already career shifted. Write out a new CV. Imagine being interviewed: develop a bank of thoughtful, well-researched answers. Now build a profile in others’ eyes. Go to events where you’ll learn and meet interesting people. Contribute. Get involved. It’s you as a person, as much as you as a collection of skills and knowledge, that’s important. Get “you” on the radar.

Volunteer or try an internship

Need more help with finances?
Try the “Finances” section on our website: www.careershifters.org/ tag/finances

There are many ways to try a new career. Consider a sabbatical or internship, volunteer, go freelance or go part time as you make the change. If possible volunteer in the area to gain good

experience for when you come to apply for a position. All of these options will allow you to get a much better idea of what you are letting yourself in for – and might also lead to job opportunities.


Don’t do it alone

The idea that success is a solo activity is one of the most damaging myths ever created. If you’re going for a big change, you’re going to need a lot of support. Get a coach, come ≥

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to kick-start your career change
Identify a few true cheerleaders and stick with them.

to a Careershifters workshop or find a friend who also wants to make a career change. Meet regularly with this person to get encouragement and to make commitments about what steps you are going to take next.


Do something today

Overcoming common hurdles


Speak only to the cheerleaders

When you are in the process of making changes in your life only share your dreams, ideas and plans with those who truly support you. These are the ones who will encourage you even if things get tough, they will keep you going and remind you always of your end goal. We sometimes have people in our lives who outwardly look like they support us, but in fact do not actually want us to change. When we change they have to change in relation to us and that can be uncomfortable.

Making a career change isn’t easy. It can seem an overwhelming task at times and is often a reason for people putting it off or giving up when they get stuck. So make sure you do something today and continue to take one action towards your career change every day, no matter how small. Put the actions down in your diary, set daily alarms on your mobile to remind you to take those actions. And step by step you’ll get there. Need more help getting there?
Try the “Make the Change” section on our website: http://www.careershifters.org/ makethechange


What if I make the wrong decision?
This is often the root cause of “paralysis by analysis”. A certain amount of thinking is valuable, but if your decisions are slow or nonexistent, your progress will be too. You’ll find life much easier and more fun if you start moving in the right sort of direction and enjoy the journey.

without experiencing rejection itself. Rejection actually shows progress. You know you’ve really started your job hunt when you get your first “no”. There will be a certain number of “nos” to experience before you get to the “yes”, so chart each rejection as one less “no” you’ll need to find. Learn what you can from the feedback you’re getting, and move on.

by tracking what you can do and have done. When job searching this might include contacts or applications made, interview practice time or completing a new draft of your CV (not job offers or interview offers – that’s an external factor you can’t control).


Focus on the progress you have made so far instead of what you haven’t achieved
There are many things you can’t control in a job search or in career development. Don’t waste your time, energy or motivation levels worrying about them. Make the best use of your time and keep your energy and motivation up


Don’t fear rejection

No job has ever been found, or glittering career developed, without overcoming this fear. And very, very, VERY few

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to kick-start your career change
Careershifters offers: Inspiration from people who’ve successfully made changes in their own careers Confidence by sharing other people’s experiences and offering access to nononsense advice from some of the best career experts in the business Connections, by providing links with professionals, with relevant institutions and fellow career shifters Find out more on our website: www.careershifters.org

About Careershifters
Careershifters.org is a groundbreaking service for anyone considering or going through a career change. Through a unique mix of free and affordable online resources, regular workshops and an online community of thousands of fellow career shifters, it helps people who are unfulfilled or at critical transition points in their careers make a successful shift.

You can find a whole raft of useful advice and inspiring stories on our website

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to kick-start your career change
Communication, is a graduate of Coach University (one of the world’s oldest coaching schools) and an accredited member of the International Coach Federation. www.escape-club.org John Lees is one of the UK’s best known career coaches. He is also the author of the best-selling How To Get A Job You’ll Love (McGraw-Hill), now available in its 2007/08 edition, plus a range of other career books. www.johnleescareers.com Carmel McConnell is author of the Happiness Plan and founder of children’s charity Magic Breakfast and social enterprise Magic Outcomes. www.magicbreakfast.com www.magicoutcomes.com Jessica McGregor Johnson lives in southern Spain and works internationally as a life coach enabling people to follow their dream and gain fulfillment in every area of life. www.jessicamcgregorjohnson.com Jenny Ungless is the director of City Life Coaching (www.citylifecoaching.com), a leading provider of career coaching to young professionals. Jenny is also the official career coach for Monster, the online recruitment agency. www.citylifecoaching.com John Williams helps people escape conventional full-time work to create a “Freestyle Career” - work that fits you like a glove. It’s doing what you enjoy as much as possible, it engages your creativity and it pays you what you’re worth. www.freestylesuccess.com Nick Williams is the author of the best selling The Work We Were Born To Do and has helped thousands of people find and live the work they were born for. www.nick-williams.com Sonia Lakshman is a career transition coach, who helps people discover the work they truly enjoy. Her career coaching consultancy, One Smart Step, has great success with clients navigating career

Contributing coaches
Sue Clarke is a life, career and business coach for the Fiona Harrold Consultancy. Sue specialises in career management and change, motivation, confidence building and coaching entrepreneurs. www.fionaharrold.com Holly Crane is a career and business coach. She works primarily with people passionate about making a difference and those wanting to find, and excel at, their ideal work. www.hollycrane.com Nina Grunfeld is the founder of Life Clubs. Life Clubs are weekly workshops around the country where you go to make a good life better. www.lifeclubs.co.uk Satu Kreula is an executive and personal career coach. She has a Masters degree in Organisational Behaviour and Intercultural

changes, from starting their own businesses to nailing an interview for a dream job. www.onesmartstep.co.uk

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