How to navigate a career change

Posted by Louisa Wetton, Associate Director PR and Comms, Monday February 17 2020

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How to navigate a career change

Changing career was the best decision I ever made, personally and professionally, but it wasn’t easy getting to this point. After studying PR for four years and working in numerous PR agencies for a further six years, why would anyone want to leave that behind and start from scratch? I certainly didn’t and you shouldn’t have to either.

Transferable skills

The first thing anyone considering a career change should do is to assess their transferable skills, both strengths and weaknesses. As silly as it might sound, the best way to do this is to draw up a ‘pros and cons’ list; put pen to paper and think seriously about what you’re good at and would like to do more of versus those elements of your job that you perhaps struggle with, or don’t enjoy as much. This forms the basis for your job search.

What do you WANT to do?

It is no good making a career move based on what you COULD do, you need to focus on what you truly WANT to do and this means long-term. If you move jobs simply because you’re in a rush to get out of your current role and want an easy way out, you will likely find yourself in the same situation a couple of months (or a year, at best) down the line.

If your transferable skills don’t quite match up with what you want to do, who could you speak to in order to gain extra insight? Do you have any contacts you could use to get your foot-in-the-door, or is it a case of re-writing your CV to tailor your experience correctly? Think about what your journey looks like and start heading down that path, one small step at a time.

Start with your network first

For me personally, this meant thinking about the recruiters I had worked with as a candidate that had left a good impression on me. Where could I see myself working and being genuinely happy? There might only be one or two target companies on your list, or there might be 50 – either way, don’t underestimate the power of proactivity (and a bit of flattery helps too!). Reach out to these companies, tell them you really respect what they do and ask if you could grab a coffee, or arrange a quick call to gain some insight on getting into the industry or company. It’s human nature to help one another and as the old saying goes, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’.

Keep going and don’t give up!

If you ask anyone you know that has made a successful career change, I guarantee they will tell you the risk was worth it. We spend such a huge majority of our lives at work that life is too short to be unhappy day-in, day-out.

And what if it doesn’t work out? Well, you’ll always have your current skillset to fall back on so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Remember, there is no shame in making a career change and later deciding it wasn’t for you. But if you never try, you’ll never know! So what are you waiting for?

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