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Five on Friday: Time for a career change?

Five on Friday: Time for a career change?

Welcome to Five on Friday, a round-up of views on a theme. In this edition we take a look at changing your career: the signs you need a career change, inspiration from successful career-changers, how to do it… and how not to do it.

When I was five, I wanted to be an astronaut but later on in my childhood settled for being a writer because that was something I also liked. (Later on I realised it was a good decision because a career in writing would not require a degree in physics or engineering, nor a physical fitness level best described as ‘military grade’.)

My first plan was to be a novelist, scuttled as soon as I realised no one paid you to write a novel, they only paid you when they published it, if they chose to publish it, and even then not very much for most authors. Since then I’ve been a checkout chick at a fruit shop, an English tutor, a bush regenerator, a magazine editorial assistant, an editor and now I’m a content developer, a role that did not exist when I watched Halley’s Comet blaze a trail across the sky, hoping one day to travel in space as a job.

It has become abundantly clear that an individual will rarely remain in the same career for his or her entire life. So whatever career you choose next, whatever skills you need to attain to do it successfully, it also pays to pick up the skills of transitioning well.

1. Lifelong learning
Earlier this week I wrote about professional obsolescence, which segues nicely into this article about lifelong learning and how important it is for career transition. Being aware of what’s out there in terms of emerging industries and the evolving jobs within them will not only introduce you to possible roles, it will also convey to you the skills you’ll need for your new career so you know what you’re getting into.

2. Self-awareness
Self-awareness is one of those elusive beasts that you think you have a handle on until you realise you’re really good at a job you hate and yet have the strange ambition to go as far up the wrong ladder as possible. In Kathy Caprino’s 5 ways to tell if you need a career change, all five signs indicate that a little bit of self-awareness will let you know when you need to change careers.

3. Feeling secure
No, not a job in the security sector (unless that’s what you want), but recognition that a career change may be disruptive and that a successful transition entails good planning to make sure it all goes smoothly. If you need to undergo training—especially for many years—you need to figure out whether you’ll be working at your current career at the same time, or whether there’ll be a gap between employment. If you opt for a hiatus from work, you may need a buffer of money or an alternate income. Make sure you prepare for the transition and avoid common mistakes.

4. Late ambition
It’s never too late to change careers. Granted, there are some careers that are harder to crack when you’re older—being a surgeon when your hands get quivery at 80 is certainly an obstacle—but there are many famous examples of complete career changes late in life. My favourite? One of the world’s first celebrity chefs, Julia Child, once worked as a research assistant for the CIA before taking up French cooking.

5. Okay, some career changes aren’t as accessible

A career in the Mafia is lucrative by inaccessible to most
Enjoy your Friday and have a good weekend!

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