When is the right time for a career change?

5 minutes

How many times does the average person change careers in their lifetime?  If you are w...

How many times does the average person change careers in their lifetime? 

If you are wondering whether it's time to jump ship and seek out a brand new career, you'll be pleased to know that you aren't alone. Nearly half of UK employees surveyed by the London Business School also dream of swapping jobs. In another study, 46% of participants had already retrained in another sector.

Coronavirus has impacted people's attitude towards their work enormously, with a study showing that 32% of people involved were contemplating a change as a direct result of the pandemic.

While some have already made a move, others are fearful. Since you are reading this post, chances are you are seriously considering taking steps to find a brand new exciting and fulfilling career.

But how do you know if now is the right time to jump?

The first step to changing careers is to admit that a change is needed

Admitting that you no longer feel the passion or even the interest in your industry can be quite a tough thing. Many of us will have spent years studying or working extremely hard to progress through the ranks. Wanting to call it quits can initially feel like all of that time is wasted. However, that's not the case. There are numerous reasons to explain why you want to break up with your industry, including:

  • You’re a different person now - People grow and change, something that worked for you before may not be right for you at a later stage of your life. 
  • Lack of progression/promotion: Perhaps you flew through the ranks, and there is nowhere else to go. Doing the same thing day in, day out will lead everyone to want something different eventually.
  • Life changes - Similar to how everyone changes as they mature, perhaps you want a better work-life balance now, and that isn’t something you can achieve in your current industry.
  • Boredom: There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are bored with your industry. Consider that the retirement age in the UK is 66, 65 in EU member states and 67 in the US. Some industries require years of education before you can begin practising. It's almost silly to expect someone to stay interested in the same thing for that long. 

Change can be a fantastic thing. The challenge is discovering what you want that change to be and then taking the leap and running towards your new goal. 

How do you know it's time for a career change?

In addition to the feelings mentioned earlier, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out whether now is the right time to change careers:

  • Are you complaining a lot more than you used to?
  • Is it harder to make progression plans?
  • Are you procrastinating more than ever?
  • Have you noticed your performance dropping?
  • Do you jump on any opportunity to take time off work?
  • Are you finding it harder to focus on your daily tasks?
  • Have your stress levels jumped up?

If you have checked most of those boxes, the chances are that now is the right time for you to change careers. 

How do you know if now is NOT the right time for a career change?

You may feel that now is an excellent time to take on a new challenge; however, there are some additional key checks you need to make that may highlight that now is not the time to make a move: 

  • Are there parts of your job that you love?
  • If X changed, would you be happy in your role? 
  • Have you told your line manager about your feelings?

Changing careers is not a decision to be taken lightly. If there are changes that you or your employer could make that would resolve the issues that are causing your unhappiness or disenchantment; this could be the ideal solution for you. 

Perhaps you have spoken to your employer, but your words have fallen on deaf ears. In cases like this, maybe consider moving to a different company that is willing to offer what you need. 

If you find a position where everything is what you hoped it would be, or near enough, yet you still host unsatisfied and unhappy feelings, then that would be the optimum time to seek a more drastic change. 

How do I make a career change?

Our first piece of advice is not to expect a change overnight. Just reaching this decision has probably taken a massive weight off your shoulders, but there is a lot of work still to be done. You are about to embark on an exciting pathway to discover what it is you want to do with the rest of your working life. 

If you already know the answer to this, congratulations! You get to skip of few steps in our list:

1. Figure out what you do want to do 

Take some time to really think about this. You don't want to find yourself in the same position a few years down the line. While it's perfectly fine and normal to change careers more than once, you want to find something that will excite you for this next stage in your life and hopefully the next.  

We recommend making a list of things you still love about your current role and what your ideal situation would be. For example, do you want to be out and about or work from home? Once you have your list, research what roles would suit you; perhaps even speak with a recruiter or a job coach to figure it out. One career can have many, many avenues, so getting as much help and advice will be extremely valuable, just remember that the final decision must be yours and yours alone. 

It's always a good idea to browse job listings in sectors you are interested in, particularly the job descriptions. This will lay out what you can expect to be doing day-in, day-out. Don't look at these through rose-tinted glasses. Imagine yourself carrying out these tasks and decide whether it is something you will enjoy long-term.

2. Make connections and request informal talks

It can feel pretty daunting to reach out to strangers on LinkedIn and ask them to have a chat about their work. A lot of industries have built communities online, which could be a safe place for you to reach out to see if anyone is willing to talk to you. Building these connections early will give you a support group that will be advantageous as you build out your new career.

3. Carry out a financial analysis on yourself

Ascertain how much you spend per month on bills and living, and be extremely honest. It may be that your dream career comes with a lower salary that means you can't pay your mortgage, which is something you definitely need to know beforehand. In this situation, you can take action to lower your monthly outgoings. This might mean that you can't retrain as quickly as you hoped, but it's all part of the process.

4. Save, save, and save some more

Depending on your current role and salary, you may have to be prepared to take a pay-cut in the short-term. Some new careers will end up paying a higher salary in the long-term, whereas others will offer less pay but higher satisfaction. Whatever the case, we recommend getting some savings behind you as you get to grips with your new salary, especially if you have had to retrain to take on an entry-level role. 

5. Discover if a course is needed to retrain

Moving from sales into engineering (for example) will have some transferable skills, like the ability to communicate between teams. However, employers will most likely be looking for trained individuals, especially if you don't have any hands-on experience. Conversion courses are explicitly designed for career changers and will highlight your dedication to prospective employers. 

Once you are ready to make a move, done your research, discovered a new passion, retrained where necessary, found a new job and handed in your notice, all of the time and effort you have put in will be more than worth it. And we are here to help you in any way we can.