We’ve all seen the recent troubling news that between the months of March and July, unemployment benefit claims increased massively to 2.7 million in total. Many more are living a state of uncertainty about their job’s future.
More still are considering using this period of upheaval as the catalyst for a career change they’ve been longing for. The work/life balance, pros and cons of working from home, and an increased desire for financial stability have all been drawn into sharp focus, and the UK looks set for drastic reappraisals of the very meaning of ‘work’ over the coming months.
Though the decision feels all the more urgent right now, a career change requires careful consideration and planning, and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. With that in mind, here are 5 things to consider if you’re thinking of a career change.
PLAY THE LONG GAME
We all need to be playing the long game right now. But under duress and stress, impulsive, reckless decisions are sometimes made. This thing’s a marathon, not a sprint, and a sudden swerve right now may well put you so far off track you’ve left the stadium.
It’s prudent to ask if you can afford a period of lower wages, education, training and the rest, when so many are without employment, full stop. Following your dream is, of course, to be commended, but right now it’s a decision which needs to be taken with a supplementary dose of realism. So, instead of handing in your notice before securing a role along your new chosen career path, have a contingency plan in place to ensure you don’t suffer financially from your choices.
DO YOU PRIORITISE A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE OR MORE DISPOSABLE INCOME?
This is the big question the COVID-19 crisis has forced us all to consider; whether this state of topsy turvy turmoil has impressed the need for financial stability more keenly, or if quality time with family and self-care should now be life’s priority.
The highest earning jobs in the UK tend to be managerial or medical, and take years of costly education, career progression or (regrettably) nepotism to achieve. Ask yourself if a sudden career change will give you enough of a financial boost to satisfy that desire for a more disposable income. On the flip side, should a better quality of life be the driving force behind your decision to change careers, do endeavour to research the hours expected of your new role, not only the ‘nine to five’ element, but also training, extracurricular elements and take-home expectations.
Let’s state that the two are not mutually exclusive. A 2017 study into high-paying jobs which clock in relatively short hours (less than 40) found that careers in dentistry, pharmacy, and some more technical writing disciplines all paid handsomely. Food for thought, indeed.
THE INCENTIVES OF A NEW ROLE
Other than an increase in salary or more freedom timewise, what other incentives are you seeking in your new role? Prior to committing to a new career or signing on any dotted lines, do ensure that you find out what benefits, incentives and employee packages are provided by the company, such as pension contributions, a company car or health coverage, as these can have a huge difference on your quality of life well beyond the simple aspect of salary and hours.
Take into account that some incentives may not be detailed on the job listing, and however unethically, are only offered to a candidate who demands them, both in their skillset and actually, verbally demands them.
A CHANGE BEYOND CAREER
Though so many of us are feeling a little hollow right now, and questioning the very fabric of our existence, our place in society, and what the future holds, be warned that you may not find the answers in switching careers. Instead, a wider audit of your life might be necessary to deal with some of the more searching questions which lockdown, isolation, furlough and the rest have thrown up.
Would a more all encompassing lifestyle change give more meaning? There’s so much to be said for self care, for getting fit and mindful, inside and out, which may bring deeper, seismic shifts to your outlook. Sometimes, the answers lie within.
TREAT THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY, NOT A NECESSITY
If you’re feeling pressured to change career, the decision may be rushed and you run the risk of selling yourself short. You might end up with a new role which doesn’t do your skills and resume justice, because you let your desperation show.
Instead, try to embrace a career change as the bringer of possibility and opportunity, and a chance for self improvement and professional development. This mindset will have you on the front foot in the job hunt and supremely confident in interviews. To totally mangle a JFK phrase, ”Ask not what you can do for your career change, but what your career change can do for you”.