Taking a new career direction can be one of the scariest things you’ll ever do. With recovery from the recession looking slow, and unemployment still oscillating around the two million mark in the UK, it can seem like changing tack is just a tragedy waiting to happen.
But despite the doom and gloom, more people than ever are picking a new direction mid-career, with Fortune magazine reporting that 86% of job seekers in the US who are already employed are looking for work outside their current occupations.
So if, like them, you’re looking to try something completely different, here are a few things to bear in mind while doing it.
Get advice before doing anything
Before embarking on any new career path, it's worthwhile doing as much research as possible on the field you might be entering into.
There are a good few sources online – including the UK government’s own National Careers Service, which offers good, impartial advice – while lots of industry publications have "how to" guides for getting into certain kinds of job.
Often, however, the best advice can be acquired through good old fashioned face to face contact. So if you have a friend, acquaintance or family member with experience in what you’re looking to do, take them out for a coffee and bring a list of questions.
Look at what you can offer
Although many career paths still require a strict set of qualifications and work experience, employers in general are moving away from prioritising these and towards seeking a set of skills and personal qualities that can be somehow proven by a prospective employee’s track record, otherwise known as “soft skills”.
This is great news for people changing careers – once you’ve identified these soft skills and how you can demonstrate them, you can match them to employers that are looking for them to find the right kind of work for you.
Try things out
It may not always be the best option to jump head first into a whole new full-time job. Picking up a contract or part-time position, or taking a related vocational course, can give you the chance to experience a new career path before galumphing down the wrong one.
But remember: changing careers means sacrifice, so make sure it’s for something that makes you happy.