August 21, 2023
Most people start on their career path at the age of 16. We finish high school and then choose the subjects we want to study at college, and these usually lead on to university choices, which inevitably leads down a specific career path.
Since we make these decisions so young, it’s not uncommon for people to change their mind about what they want later in life. When this happens, you are faced with a tough choice. Do you continue down your current path and accept that you might not be doing a job that you love, or do you risk it all and start a new career path?
For those thinking about changing careers, rest assured support is available. While it might feel uncommon to change careers later in life, you’ll soon find that many of the skills you have developed in your life are actually applicable to a wide range of situations. It’s often the soft skills that make us employable, so all you need is a little training to acquire the hard skills required for your job change.
In this guide, we’ll explore why individuals might want to change careers, how to choose a future-proof career, and the steps you will need to take if you decide to take the plunge.
There are so many reasons a person might want to change careers, and this will usually all come down to your motivation and what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. These are some of the most common reasons that individuals choose to change their career later in life:
We’d like to say that it’s never too late to change careers, but this isn’t exactly practical advice. Every case is different, and it really depends on the career switch you are hoping to make and who you are as a person.
For example, deciding you want to switch from being an accountant to being a surgeon when you are approaching retirement might not be entirely practical. It takes five years to train to become a doctor, then a further five years of specialist training. But deciding that you want to go back to university to study to be a doctor in your early 30s would be less of an impractical career move.
When deciding if it is too late, you simply need to decide if your motivation is strong enough to keep you going when it feels like the odds are stacked against you. Changing careers certainly isn’t easy, but it will be worth it if you can find a career that you are truly passionate about.
If you’re thinking about retraining in a new career because you want to work in a field that is highly in demand, then consider the following career choices. These are all highly in demand at the moment and shortages of workers in the UK means that you will have a good chance of securing a job when you are qualified:
If you’re set on changing careers, these are the steps you will need to take to make it happen.
You need to take stock of where you are in your career and what you have to offer. There is a good chance that you have a lot of transferable skills, you simply need to know how to put them to work in a new career. You also need to know how to be able to talk about your experience in an interview and make it relevant to your new chosen career path.
Make a list of the hard and soft skills that you have and think about how these might apply to a new career path. Ask yourself: with a little training, will you easily be able to put your skills and experience to work in a new career?
You need to know that you are making this career change for the right reasons, and not just that you are temporarily bored. It’s common to become complacent and frustrated at times in your career, but this isn’t always a sign that you need to change careers entirely.
It could be a sign that you are ready for a new challenge. Think about what practical issues you are facing that are making you want to change careers. Then think about the emotional factors that are influencing your decision.
Now you know if you’re making the move for the right reasons, it’s time to think about if you need additional training. If you know that people often make this career jump – such as the jump from journalist to PR, or from marketing to sales – then you might already know that it isn’t training you need, it’s experience.
But, if you are making a big change – such as a jump from PR to cybersecurity – then you know that you’re going to need some additional training. Look for part time and evening training options that will allow you to continue in your current role while you study.
Speaking to people who work in the sector you want to move into will help you to achieve a realistic view of what you can expect to find in your new role. It’s not uncommon for people to have the sense that the grass is always greener.
You might be idealising the new career path and speaking to someone in the sector will help to clear up any misconceptions you have. You can also speak to people in your current field about your plans. They might be having similar thoughts, particularly if you are working in a dying industry.
When planning a career change, you need to think carefully about how you present your work history on your CV. You need to think about what you have already done in your career and how this will help you to adapt to a new career in your chosen field.
Start with a job description for your dream role and work backwards. What are the key competencies they are looking for and how can you match this with your current work experience and new training.
By speaking to recruiters in your new field, you can find out if your CV would stand out in a stack or if there are still too many questions to be answered about your decision to change careers. You can also speak to those working in the sector, particularly if they have experience on hiring panels, and update your CV accordingly.
Retraining often means going back to the start and looking for entry-level roles. You could also boost your experience and your CV by taking on an internship or job shadowing. This will give you insight into the actual inner workings of your chosen career and can help you to avoid looking at the sector through rose tinted glasses.
Everything looks shiny and new from the outside, but it’s only when you have insider knowledge that you can begin to think more realistically about what you hope you achieve in your career change.
Going into an interview when you are changing careers can be more daunting. You will need to have prepared a clear answer that explains your late change in career and motivations. The employer wants to know that you are committed to this career path and you won’t be thinking about another change in career in a year’s time.
Practise answering general interview questions alongside the questions that are more specific to your motivations for changing careers. You can expect to be grilled more intensely than other candidates who may have been on this career path since they left university. Their motivation is clear and has never wavered, but you are making a switch in another direction, which can make employers nervous.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to change your career overnight. All of the motivation and passion in the world won’t help you if you don’t have the skills and experience. This is why it’s important to remain realistic when switching careers. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy dose of optimism.
You can be proud of yourself for doing something that many people will never have the guts to do. This tenacity and motivation should shine through in interviews and let employers know that you are passionate about your career and want to be doing something that makes you happy. These are all good traits that employers look for.
There are many reasons you might want to consider changing careers. Whatever your reasons, the path remains the same for everyone. First, you need to make sure your move is realistic. Then, you need to approach this like you did at the start of your career.
You need to invest in training to bring your skills up to speed. Next, you need to gain some experience. Then, you need to learn how to impress the interview panel. You can do this by speaking to experts in the industry, or discussing your career change with a recruitment consultant in your sector.Back to Blog