There is a difference between wanting to change a job and wanting to change your career. Today’s article explains these differences so that you can better understand where you are at and what you need to do to make the changes that will help you take that next step in your career.

If you feel stuck in a job you hate and are ready for a change, I am so glad you found me! As a Job Search Coach, I work with clients who have decided to make a change and are actively looking for work.

What’s interesting about the people I meet who are in this stage of their journey is that their reasons for wanting to make a change can vary a lot! Some people have experienced conflict at work, either with their managers or co-workers, and others can not see any opportunities for growth on the horizon and want to further develop their career either within or beyond their industry. For other clients they know they want to make a change, but have no idea where to begin. What they do know is that they’re not enjoying the type of work they’re doing and want to make a change.

Changing Jobs Requires Grit and Tenacity

When my clients first approach me, they want to change jobs, may not have had much success on their own, have not applied for jobs for a long time and want to increase their success rate.   The reality is that changing jobs requires grit and tenacity and you need to be able to bounce back when recruiters and hiring managers say no, but don’t always tell you why!

The key steps in the job search process when changing jobs includes:

  • Upgrading and tailoring your resume to match the job.
  • Writing strong job applications that get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Creating an awesome LinkedIn profile that helps you stand out from the crowd.
  • Preparing for the job interview process (which can have up to 7 stages, and may include phone, video, face to face group, panel and experimental interviews).
  • Learning how to have meaningful conversations (with your manager to create opportunities within their current organisation).

Engaging the services of a career consultant is an increasingly popular choice for people who want to be a step ahead of others in an increasingly competitive job market. Just like the industry you work in may be experiencing some changes, so has the job application and recruitment process.

Some of my clients seek my assistance with all of these steps and others ask me to help with a few of them. It’s often about confidence levels and how much success they’ve had on their own.

Changing Careers is a Longer Process Than Changing Jobs

When I partner with clients who are wishing to change careers, it is a longer process and requires a lot of planning and a realistic timeframe. Here’s an example to help you better understand what’s involved.

Please meet Ben. 

He’s an IT Support Officer who realised he no longer wanted to pursue IT roles. What to do? He felt stuck and was not sure what steps he needed to take.

We began by exploring his key skills and looked at how those skills could transfer to other possible roles.  We all have transferable skills and they are incredibly valuable to employers. By identifying and harnessing your transferable skills they can help you stand out in your job search.

For Ben, we discovered he:

  • Was a great communicator
  • Built relationships easily with others
  • Had a very strong customer service ethic
  • Enjoyed solving problems and identifying solutions for his clients.

As we considered which areas in his company needed those skills to drive outcomes, we discovered that the Commercial area of the company, that worked with suppliers to drive better customer solutions, could be a great fit. This part of the business looked at providing better solutions for the client base as well as setting up IT solutions to deliver the outcomes.

We then considered a plan to help Ben transition into this area. The key steps Ben needed to take included:

  • Speak with people in the area to understand the role, skills required and key deliverables
  • Once we understood the role, highlight and match the skills for the role in the resume
  • Create the pitch*
  • Have a courageous conversation with management to discuss creating a plan to look at what it would take to transfer / transition into this area.

Side note – you may be wondering, what is the ‘pitch’? Read this article by SEEK that provides 6 examples of amazing pitches that succinctly articulate the person, what makes them great and what their career aspirations are.

The good news is, Ben was successful in making the transition. It took time and courage and Ben is now enjoying using the transferable skills we identified together.

What Can You Learn from Ben’s Experience?

Understanding that changing careers is a longer process than changing jobs helped Ben work with me to map out a plan. Importantly, it was Ben that did the work and took the action.  This demonstrates that when you are willing to do the work and have a courageous conversation with management, a variety of options may (or may not) unfold for you within (or beyond) your organisation.

Those organisations who realise the value of retaining talent (and the cost of hiring new talent) are increasingly open to career development conversations.  This can play out in a variety of ways and can include some of the following scenarios to ensure the transition is well thought out and manages the needs of both the individual and the organisation during the transition.

Job shadowing in the department: this is when an individual from one area of the organisation has the opportunity to work alongside and gain experience of the role of another individual, and gain an insight into that particular work area.

Volunteer for a project that involves that department: from time to time some departments may provide opportunities for cross functional teams to participate in special projects. It is essential that the individual is able to manage both their current workload and the project workload, and that this is factored into discussions about performance.

Relieve in the department: this is when an individual from one area of the organisation has the opportunity to back-fill roles when people are on annual leave, long service leave or maternity leave. It is a great way to trial the individual’s suitability for the role and the individual can also trial whether this is the right environment for them to work in.

Mentoring: this is when an individual is provided with professional guidance from a more experienced individual within (or outside of) the organisation to help them develop their skills to make the transition. It helps manage expectations of the individual and provides an additional level of support for the individual making the change.

Up-skilling & re-training: this may be provided by the organisation or an accredited external provider. It may be funded by the organisation or co-funded by the organisation and the individual.

Changing your career does not happen overnight, however with careful planning it will happen!

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