Changing Careers 101

We spend most of our adult waking lives at work; this is the place that defines a large proportion of people. Would it surprise you then that according to a recent pole “one in four of us is unhappy in our jobs”. I have had multiple jobs in the past that were a means to an end and ultimately unfulfilling, I got caught in the wage trap early on and didn’t really see a way out. As time went on I began to resent these jobs, but each move made the situation worse, until I realised that I was coming at it from the wrong angle. I was trying to fit myself to a job rather than considering a job that suited me, I know it seems like a really simple concept but it had never occurred to be before this point.

So I sat down and asked myself some questions.

  • Should I change my career?
  • If I did change, what to change to?
  • How to go about it?
  • Other considerations e.g. training.

Lets look at each of these in turn

Should you change your career?

Whilst this is a question that only you can answer there are some things that will help you make your decision. Firstly I sat down and made a list of all the pro’s and cons to changing my career. I thought about things like job satisfaction, flexibility of working hours and pay, but you also have to dose these thoughts with a hefty pinch of realism. The decision that you make now will change your life so blue sky thinking isn’t what you need here. What you actually need to do is ask yourself the hard questions, for example; can my new venture/career support my current lifestyle? Can I afford to quit my job and retrain NOW or do I need to train alongside my current job? Can I handle starting at the bottom of the ladder in my new career? Will I want to move on again in another 2 or 3 years?

Honesty is your best approach here, as it is VERY easy for all rational thought to go out of the window, leaving you with only the rose tinted view that “everything will be ok once I move jobs”.

So once you have gone through this process and answered each of the questions YOU need to know the answers to, and you’ve decided that “yes” you do want to change your career, the next step is deciding what to change it to?

There are some key things to take into account here that you should have touched on when going through the pros and cons previously. The main thing that people think about is MONEY, however, this is actually the least important in my view. The most important things to consider at this point are the things that will really change your life, for example job satisfaction, improved work/life balance, ability to grow and progress within a career. If all you want is a bit more money get a second job, what we are actually taking about here is changing the way you feel about work. There is no point doing a job you hate for a few extra pounds as at the end of the month you’ll still hate the work.

Why are you changing your career and what are you changing it to?

Now most of the why’s should have been taken care of, what you have to do is start looking for a career that you will not enjoy, but one that also allows you to tick most, if not all, of the things you want to change on your list. Firstly it helps if you have some experience within the area that you want to get into, this might only be very basic but that’s ok. Industries where your existing skills are transferable are a good place to start. For those of you that want a COMPLETE change, I would advise shadowing somebody in that profession, asking questions about their day-to-day life, and responsibilities. This would be a good starting place to ensure you aren’t over glamorising the job; you will need to know about the rough as well as the smooth.

How do you go about it?

Once you’ve got an idea of what you want to do you then need to look at the minimum requirements of the role, these can usually be found on a job specification. This should highlight any training or qualifications that you will need in order to have your CV shortlisted, and hopefully make it to the top of the pile. The key word here is research. You need to gather as much information as possible on the career that has peaked your interest. The more specific that you can be here the better as this will allow you to be more focused on things like training, job opportunities etc.

You need to be realistic too, there is no point in looking just at the good side of the job, you also need to look at the bad side and then decide if the good out-ways the bad. Remember that you are doing this to change your quality of life, so the more effort that you put in to this stage, the easier and more rewarding you will find the rest of the process

You will also need to remember that we are in a tough climate at the moment for people seeking work, and there are more people going for each job, so you will need to make yourself stand out of the crowd to have ay chance of employment.

To an employer it doesn’t matter that you want to change your life, it doesn’t matter that you have thrown everything into moving careers, they just want the best person for the job, not the person with the best story.

Other things like training.

The onus is on you to make sure that you know the minimum requirements of the industry that you have chosen, with regard to qualifications, skill sets and experience. It is also up to you to prove that you can provide all this and more to any potential employer. You should consider any regulatory requirements that need to be satisfied as well as competence-based qualifications etc.

In the electrical industry there has been a dramatic shift in the way people are employed. What used to happen was that you started working on a site, usually for a friend or family member, you would gain experience and then a couple of years down the line you would go to college and get the relevant qualifications to allow you to register on your own. Now though it is nigh on impossible to get onto site without the right qualifications. You have to have all of the relevant qualifications, just to have your CV shortlisted, before you can gain the experience.

In my career as an electrician I had to make sure that I had the competency-based qualifications first, for example the hands on installation qualifications. Next came the regulatory qualifications like the 17 th Edition, Portable appliance, 2391 Inspection and Testing. Now although according to the law there are no set qualifications to become an electrician, employers will have their own minimum standard that they will accept to allow you out on site. In my career as an Electrician I have to comply with regulatory bodies, such as the NICEIC and NAPIT, which have specific qualifications that they require for membership. In this respect most employers are the same.

So after reading this you probably have more questions than answers, but you should be on the right path to get those answers for yourself. If it is electrical installation that you want to get into feel free to have a look at our course list and give us a call, we would be more than happy to discuss your options with you and give you any advice that is appropriate.

Good Luck

David Bromley signiture

David Bromley
Electrical Lecturer
Erudite Training

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