How to Change Career in 2018


I read this morning that the average person will change career 5-7 times during their working life. That is a lot of career shifting for a society which still appears to value and strive for ‘a job for life’. Perhaps we are starting to acknowledge and embrace the idea that, in a world now full of opportunity, there is no such thing as a perfect career that we will love, and be happy in, for the rest of our lives.

I was speaking to a potential client yesterday and they voiced their concerns about re-training and then finding that, further down the line, they didn’t enjoy that new career either. It’s a common apprehension when changing career. However, it can be helpful to see every job or career change that you make as part of your overall career journey, with each change a stepping-stone to your next destination. It can be quite paralysing to pressurise yourself in to believing that your next career change has to be the job you do for the rest of your life. We all change a great deal throughout our lives - what suits you at the beginning of your career journey may not appeal in years to come. Our interests change, as do our motivations, passions, and values.

If you’ve decided that this is the year that you finally ditch that job you hate, then here are five steps to help you on your way to changing career in 2018.

1. Get to know yourself

It’s my firm belief that those who are most satisfied and motivated by their work are in careers which reflect who they really are. The difficulty here is that when you’re in your 20s or early 30s, we’ve had little opportunity to spend the time getting to know ourselves. The first step to changing career is to really get to grips with the answers to the following questions:

- What are your core values?
- What is your life purpose?
- What are your interests and passions?

If you struggle to answer these questions, start by completing a personality profiler tool, such as this free Myers Briggs assessment.

2. Imagine your ideal week

Grab a blank diary and pencil in what commitments you’d like to see in your ideal week e.g. meetings, travelling, desk-based etc. Consider questions such as:

- What job skills do you want to be using?
- What would be your preferred type of organisation?
- What sort of environment do you want to work in?

3. Build an Ideas Bank

Reviewing what you’ve identified above, what key themes can you see? Keeping these in mind, start to collate an Ideas Bank containing all the fleeting thoughts and career options you’ve identified so far, which match what you’ve already determined as important to you.

Get creative about how you collate these ideas. You could write a list, construct a mind-map, or gather pictures, job descriptions, words, adverts, job profiles - anything you see that catches your interest. Suspend any judgements you might have on how realistic they are at this stage; just record everything that comes to mind.

4. Create a shortlist

After a few weeks of collating ideas, and perhaps crossing some out, force yourself to pick 1-3 options that you feel most drawn to. Which are you most excited about? Which do you feel most motivated and intrigued by? Which do you want to know more about?

5. Make an Action Plan

Out of these options, force yourself to pick just one. Do so in the knowledge that, at this stage, there is no commitment. For now, suspend reality and any fears that creep in to your mind. Pull together a SMART action plan that allows you the opportunity to thoroughly investigate the option you’ve chosen.

At this stage, you may want to set yourself goals related to finding out more about the profession. For example:

- What further training might you need to complete?
- What work experience might be required?
- How can you obtain experience (e.g. volunteering, internship, apprenticeship, shadowing, work experience, taking on additional responsibilities in your current role)?
- Who do you know that works in this profession? What advice can they give you?
- What salary could you expect?
- How have others successfully moved in to this profession?

Once you feel you’ve exhausted all avenues to finding out what you can about your chosen career, create a new action plan for how you will start making your shift. Where exactly will you start? What will be your first step? Where do you want to be, and by when? How can you break this down in to small, manageable steps? Get to work on completing these goals, and watch as you slowly, but surely, start to move in to your new and exciting career.

How Career Coaching Can Help

The ideas above are loosely based on the stages covered in the career change coaching I offer. It can be incredibly hard to work through these steps on your own, and remain motivated to keep moving forward when you hit physical and psychological barriers. Feedback from previous clients often mentions how helpful it is to work with someone objective to your situation, someone whose main agenda is to reserve judgement and offer you the time, and a safe space, to deeply explore and identify what a fulfilling career looks like to you.

If you’re keen to work through the steps above, and make 2018 the year you change career, get in touch to discuss how we can work together to make this goal a reality.

Alice Stapleton

About Alice

Alice coaches those who want to change career but don’t know what they want to do instead. She offers Career Coaching designed to help graduates, early to mid-level career-changers, and parents returning to work gain a clear vision of what career is right for them, and how to achieve it. She is also an accredited Coach Supervisor, and host of The Career Change Diaries podcast.