How to… change career

Have you reached the stage where the sheen has been taken off your work? Or
you feel stuck in a rut and you are stagnating?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. Research from the Policy Studies Institute,
published earlier this year, found that more than half of all women workers in
the UK and nearly 60 per cent of older workers (50-60 years olds) were unhappy
in their work and many seized the opportunity to change jobs or professions as
a result.

You may also have been made redundant and therefore have no choice in the
matter of rethinking your career.

Whatever the reason, switching fields and embarking on a fresh learning
curve could have the effect of revitalising both you and your flagging career.

Where do I start?

Making a career change at any stage of your life can be a testing and
unsettling affair, so it is critical to do your homework first. Think hard
about what you really want to do, whether it is an operational HR role, a move
into HR consultancy or interim management. You may even wish to capitalise on
your coaching and people skills to try something radically new, such as
becoming a life coach.

List your interests – what you are good at and enjoy doing and assess how
they can be deployed in a new role or field. Recognise that work skills alone
are unlikely to make a favourable career match, so be aware of your own work
preferences, personality and values and how they would fit in. Whether you find
certain situations stressful or satisfying and how you interact with people
will also have a bearing.

Ask others about their jobs, what they like and dislike and how they landed
them. Your choice of career direction may call for retraining, so it’s
essential to consider the financial consequences of your decision.

Compile a skills inventory

A decisive element in making a successful career shift is in being able to
identify and repackage your transferable skills. These will obviously include
work-related technical and managerial skills and accomplishments, but should
also describe other proficiencies you have developed along the way. If you’re
methodical and a good time manager, for instance, or good with clients – these
are all exceptionally transferable skills.

What about my CV?

A good way of alerting prospective employers to your eminent suitability is
to prepare a functional CV. This should emphasise accomplishments and
cross-over skills to get round any lack of precisely related experience and
avoid detailing specific job titles or sectors.

Seek professional advice

When contemplating a career change it is wise to enlist the services of a
career coach or consultant. The best will offer objective advice and a fresh
perspective as well as alert you to career choices you may not have even been
aware of. They will also take into account the practicalities such as
geographic location and skills shortages in certain areas. Be wary of search
firms, which may be more preoccupied with filling job vacancies than smoothing
your new career path.

What should I do if I really do not like my new career direction?

Ideally you will have had an opportunity to road test your new role, either
through part-time work or volunteering for assignments, to check out if it’s
really what you want to do. Otherwise, is there some route back to your former
role? Another option is to pursue a further career change.

Where can I get more info?


– Somewhere Else You’d Rather Be, Barbara Quinn, Pearson Professional
Education Momentum, £14.99, ISBN: 1843040077

– What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-hunters and
Career Changers: 2003, Richard Nelson Bolles, Ten Speed Press, £14.99, ISBN:

– The Which? Guide to Changing Careers (2nd Edition), Sue Bennett, Which?
Books, £10.99, ISBN 0852028504

– Do What You Are: Discovering Your Perfect Career, B Barron, P Tieger,
Little Brown, £14.99, ISBN 0316880655

– The Work We Were Born To Do: Find the Work You Love, Love the Work You Do,
Nick Williams, Element Books, £10.99, ISBN 1862045526


Working in Britain Survey
The Diversity in Britain’s Labour Market, Robert Taylor, Institute of Policy
Studies/Economic and Social Research Council. A copy of the report can be
downloaded from


How to… manage your career,


Comprehensive links to sources of grants and other financial aid can be
located at

If you only do five things…

1 Thoroughly research all potential

2 List your transferable skills

3 Prepare a functional CV

4 Solicit as much independent advice and feedback as possible

5 If you don’t like your new role – change it

Comments are closed.