Article: Time for a job swap?12 December 2014 | Penny Davenport
Did you return from your summer break wondering if you were in the right job? After a holiday, we can have a different perspective on life and this can’t all be put down to post-holiday blues. A job isn’t for life anymore, or at least it doesn’t have to be. If you love the City, but think you are in the wrong role, there are simple steps you can take to help you move forward – and stop you making a big mistake.
Consider your life goals
Our work lives are most fulfilling when they mesh with our talents, values and other things in life which are important to us. If you have found yourself in a career by accident, it may not be tak- ing you to a place you want to go. Write down your life goals, all of them, on a big sheet of paper. This is a great place to start.
Now list your talents
Many people are frustrated in their careers as they are not using their talents. At school, you may have thought a career in Law was a good idea, and of course, there are many great things about it. But if you have a passion and an ability to analyse balance sheets, you may be happier on the financial side of things. On the large piece of paper, conduct an audit of your skills and highlight those which are being used in one colour and those that are not in another. Ask trusted friends, and especially colleagues, for help. Colleagues are great at providing their opinion as to how they see you, especially when it can be hard to see yourself.
What makes you happy?
Just because you’re good at something, it doesn’t mean you find it satisfying. If you are not happy in your career, the hours and weeks are going to tick by ever so slowly. Do you love working as a team? Or are you happy going through bucket-loads of data by yourself. Think back to your holiday and what bought you joy. Write down what makes you happy and attach it to your skills audit in a different colour.
The great beyond
When you made your job applications, did you have any idea of the roles available in the City? The lawyers and accountants prob- ably had a fair idea of what they were getting into but who knew about Credit Analysts, Collateral Specialists, and Investor Relations? By now, you may know what you’d actually like to be doing, but do some research into the roles and careers that exist. Map these onto your mega-plan. You are trying to create a list of options, rather than find the perfect career. Include every job that intrigues you, regardless of whether you have the required skills. This is simply brainstorming.
Make a list of 20 cool people to talk to. They may do the kinds of work you’ve identified as interesting, or are just interesting in their own right! Ask what it’s like to do their job, what they love and hate, how they got where they are and what they wish they’d known be- fore they started out. If they know you well, you could ask some probing questions such as “What do you think my key skills are?”
Try before you buy
Seek out ways you can test out possible future careers with- out throwing all your eggs in one basket. If you are an accountant who loves people, try a secondment in your HR department. If you’re a lawyer who loves numbers, you could see if your local charity needs any help with their book keeping. Investigate how a new career might feel and don’t forget to factor in how your life would change if you chose a particular career. You’re setting up your future life, not just job-hunting.
Learn New Skills
Identify the training or education you need to make you valuable in your chosen career. Think about skills, not just quali- fications. Investigate internships and apprenticeships. If you have conversations with employers about changing careers, you will be taken more seriously if you have already taken some steps towards retraining. Consider the future transferability of your skills. You want this investment in yourself to pay back.
Hurdle the Barriers
Many people are so enmeshed in their current job and responsibilities that they feel unable to make a career change. You may be concerned about your financial security or what others think of you. However, you owe it to yourself to take action. Change can be scary but list all the risks you’ve taken before and what happened. Envisage yourself in your new career. Resist the temptation to re- duce fear by avoiding the challenge. Instead accept and manage it.
Making career transitions requires lots of emotional support. Admit your fears and find good listeners who can give you honest feedback. Ask others about their experiences. Let your friends and family know how important this change is to you. Show them your short term goals and the results of your accomplishments. They will have faith in you when they see you making progress.
If you are in the earlier stages of your career and on the wrong track, take time to make sure you get on the right track. Don’t make a mistake because you are in a hurry to switch. Be patient and do a thorough job of your research and analysis. Set yourself up with the greatest possible chance of having a fulfilling and long-term career, and being able to achieve your life’s goals.