4 career change fears busted

When I have intro calls with potential clients, there is a surprising amount of overlap with the questions and fears that many of them have.

While backgrounds and personalities vary, the confusion surrounding career change, and the internal barriers people come up against are similar.

So, I thought I’d write a blog directly addressing the most commons questions and fears surrounding career change:

1) “I’d love to change career, but I don’t know what else I would do!”

The majority of people contemplating a career change don’t know what else they want to do. Some have a few ideas, most feel overwhelmed by the wide range of different options. This is completely normal, and doesn’t mean you’re not ready to start the process yet.

Start by identifying what parts of your previous roles you have enjoyed. When has work not felt like work? What parts haven’t you enjoyed? What would your ideal working day look like? What skills would you like to use? What are your natural strengths?

Identifying your skills, strengths, values and preferences helps to build a picture of what is important to you. Exploring various career options through networking is also a really useful tool to help get more clarity.

2) “Career change feels overwhelming. Where do I start?!”

Again, it’s normal for career change to feel intimidating, especially before you get started. The truth is, there is not a single perfect road map for you to follow to change career. My career programmes offer one approach to exploring career change, however, you may want to tweak the process to make it work for you.

It can be helpful to write down your end goal – this can be high-level, for example, to have a flexible career that you enjoy most of the time. Then write down some next steps. What do you want to have achieved in three months’ time? What would you like to focus on this week? And what do you need to get done in the next 24 hours to get started?

The key is to have a plan. Without some kind of plan written down, it’s even easier to feel confused, overwhelmed, and to stay stuck.

3) “Where can I go from here? Who would hire me?”

This is a common question when clients are panicking that no one else would hire them. I encourage clients to flip this question around to ask “Where might I want to go? Who would I like to hire me?”

Confused career changers often underestimate the number of transferable skills they have built up in their career so far. These are skills you have gained that can be applied in new settings, for example, a teacher may have developed the ability to communicate difficult messages and keep calm under pressure, which could be applied in a professional setting as well as a classroom.

Rather than thinking about who might hire you, flip the focus around to your motivation. Career changing to almost any different career path is possible – as long as you have the motivation and dedication to keep going, and aren’t in a rush.

4) “Will I have to start at the bottom of the career ladder?”

Possibly, but not always. Many people assume they will have to go back to basics and start in an entry-level role if they career change. This could be the case, but don’t assume this too soon.

If you lower your salary expectations too quickly, you don’t stand a chance of getting higher than that. Submitting cold, generic applications to roles that are vastly different to where you have experience are unlikely to be successful, however networking can be the magic ingredient that allows you to shift your career in the direction you want it to go in, without starting at the bottom.

To sum up…

Career change can feel pretty scary. There is often a fear of failure, a fear of uncertainty, and a fear of the unknown.

I understand this. I am a big fan of certainty, and sometimes struggle to start something unless I’m pretty sure I know the outcome I’m aiming for. The challenge with applying this ‘logic’ to a potential career move is that it’s nearly impossible to work out the final destination before you take the first step to explore options.

In my experience the process of self-reflecting, analysing options, and taking steps to execute a career change (big or small) is not a straight line. It can be a bumpy road, with twists, turns, dead-ends, excitements, disappointments and many coffee chats along the way.

Start small and start today. What is the next step you can take today to explore your career change?

You can find out more information on my career programmes here.

Further reading

Fed up with the world? Try some anti-trolling 

Trust your own instincts, not mine 

Goals: Can you have too much of a good thing?

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