Career change – Tips for deciding your next job role

When you’ve decided you want a career change or a new job, how on earth do you figure out what to go for when there are so many options?

To have the best success at securing a new job without spending what feels like all of the hours you have spare on the search, you need a plan. Having too many ideas is just as tricky to manage as having no clue what kind of role to look for, so here are my tips for refining those ideas for a career change and coming up with a plan.

Get your new job ideas down on paper

It sounds simple, but trying to keep track of all of the ideas in your head will inevitably mean you forget something, so keep a list in your phone for when inspiration strikes, but get everything down in one place so you can see it as a whole.

I like to mind-map, which is a great visual technique for drawing ideas and finding connections between them. But a list in a notebook would work just as well.  Simply throw down your ideas and then consider your answers to these statements:

  • Maybe I could…
  • I would quite like to…
  • I’ve often thought about…
  • Other people say I should…
  • I sometimes think about…
  • My dream would be to…
  • If there was nothing to stop me I would…

Don’t expect to do this all at once as you will find that other ideas come to you over a period of time. I recommend you have this pinned somewhere on a wall or in a notebook you carry with you so you can add to it and change it as thoughts and ideas emerge – allow yourself some time to explore them.

Hopefully having all of your career ideas in one place means you feel ready to turn your attention to what really matters to you, instead of just thinking up job options to help you make sure you don’t make a bad choice.

What kind of job role would suit you?

Knowing yourself is an important next step. After all, if you’re going to be bold and move jobs, maybe even careers, you need to have some confidence you’re making the right move.

Take a look at my blog about understanding your values and finding an organisation which matches them here. It might also be worth you taking a personality test to help you understand yourself a bit better. I gave some advice about that here in relation to job interviews, but the information is relevant to this scenario too.

Spend some time really thinking about what you enjoy doing, what you are passionate about and what you find gives you energy, fulfilment and job satisfaction.  Also think about what you are good at, and what skills, knowledge and experience you have.  Think about your qualities and strengths. Doing these activities is all about improving your self-awareness so that you make good choices for your next move rather than going with a knee-jerk reaction.

Why do you want a career change or a new job?

Understanding why you want to move jobs or careers is also an important part of the process. Are you trying to get away from a bad boss? Or have you reached a time in your life or career where you just want to do something different?

Your motivation for moving roles is a critical part of getting your next move right, as if you don’t fully understand what’s driving your need for a move, you might find yourself out of the frying pan and straight into the fire.

Do you really need to move jobs? Or could you fill the void you have identified another way, perhaps moving to a different role within the same company or by  volunteering or some other activity which wouldn’t mean changing your career. You will only know this if you really understand what has prompted your desire for a change.

Once you’re happy you understand yourself and what values are most important to you plus why you want a career change, it’s time to get practical.

Reality check – does your dream job fit your life?

You might have dreams of changing to a totally different job in a new industry, but you need to be realistic about what that looks like for your life. Think about which parts of your work-life blend are important to you.

It’s really important to have a practical look at your needs so that you have criteria to hold yourself accountable to and eliminate any unrealistic ideas which might at first seem good, but in reality don’t meet your needs. Being clear about your baseline needs will help you make sure your next move fits with your life. Examples of practical needs include:

  • How long a commute to your new job will you accept?
  • What working hours are you looking for and would you be prepared to do for the ideal job?
  • What do you need to earn from your new career? (Which is different to what you want to earn!)
  • What other perks are important to your or a necessary part of the package? Think about a car, holidays, medical insurance, pension for example

Now think about any of your options and any gaps you have.

  • Do you have the right qualifications for the career change you want to make? If not, how long will it take you to get them? Will there be a cost implication to this?
  • Do you have all of the skills you need for your new job? Are there any gaps you need to work on to make the transition? (Read my volunteering blog as one way to acquire new skills) How might you develop these skills and how long will this take?

Now cross-check your list of potential job roles with the practicalities list. Do you need to rule any of them out based on your practical requirements? Having done that, ask your partner or a good friend to look through your list and give you a reality check. Can they spot any reasons why one type of role would be better or worse for you and your circumstances? This is a critical part of the process as humans are good at fooling themselves and overlooking information which doesn’t suit the outcome they want.  This isn’t me saying don’t go for the dream role – just take your time to weigh it up and think it through so you know what level of work, effort and cost commitment it will take to get you closer to it.

Stuck and unable to make a decision about your career change?

Changing careers is both a head and a heart decision, which makes it pretty tricky. A career coach can help you work through what’s important to both your head and your heart, and figure out which one should win in this scenario.

I’ve worked with hundreds of people wanting to change careers, so if you’re stuck, give me a call to book a free chemistry session on 07765 894040.

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