Changing career direction or career paths is very common in today’s world of work. No longer do we have a job or a career for life. The stats vary significantly on how many careers or types of jobs we have on average in our lives. Some studies estimate 12 career changes, others quote 17. This means that changing careers is quite common, yet, how do you know what your skills transfer to and what else you could be and do in your working life.
It’s a question we are often asked at our career coaching sessions. We see many people who have worked in the one job or have had multiple employers performing the same job. Common examples are nurses, teachers, dental assistants, accountants, hospitality workers and retail assistants; the list could go on and on. The reality is that for many jobs where a tertiary qualification isn’t essential, it can be quite easy to change career direction.
To change careers the most important thing is to understand yourself; your transferable skills (those skills that you have that you can take from one career to the next), what type of work or tasks give you job satisfaction and how you can add value to a new job and employer. The next important part is to learn about the new and different career paths that exist and what the requirements are to work in that space. The most common question I get asked from people wanting to change careers is ‘what other jobs exist for someone like me?’
I didn’t commence my career in recruitment and HR, I changed career paths and joined the sector in my mid-twenties. My first career was in real estate where I started in admin and worked my way up through property management and into sales. After six years in the industry, I had itchy feet and wanted to see what other career paths existed in the big wide world of work. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what skills I had to offer. I was fortunate to have the flexibility to temp and try different positions which led me to my career in recruitment and HR. Temping can be an excellent way to explore new career paths. However, if you need the security of permanent work, doing your research, understanding your skills, the types of opportunities that exist in the market and what opportunities align with your transferable skills will help you successfully make a career change.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that lots of the skills that I had were transferable from real estate to recruitment and HR. I went from dealing with tenants and landlords or home buyers and vendors to employers and job seekers as well as employers and employees. My transferable skills included communication, influencing, negotiating, building relationships, attention to detail, time management, working in a fast-paced environment and meeting deadlines. Once I was in the recruitment and HR industry, I then completed further training and studies to develop my skills.
We all have lots of transferable skills and we often don’t realise what they are or that they are transferable. When making a career change and when applying for a job in a new area, our transferable skills are key, as when we put together our application and resume for a job in a new sector our employment history becomes less of a focus and the transferable skills need to be emphasised. We need to make it easy for the person assessing our application to identify and relate the transferable skills to the role they are recruiting for. In my scenario, conducting open homes would have been of no interest to someone assessing my resume for a recruitment and HR job. They would, however, be interested in the customer service skills, organising and coordinating, building rapport and qualifying the customer skills that I used at conducting those open homes.
If you are looking to change careers the best place to start is with a skills audit of what you can offer; those transferable skills that you have that you can offer to a new employer. The second step is to understand the job market and the types of jobs on offer, what skills and expertise they need and the salaries that will be on offer for someone with your skill set. Sometimes when changing career paths, you might find you have to take a step back salary-wise to take a longer-term step forward to progress your career while you build up some additional skills and experience or complete some further study. The internet is a great place to start doing your research or if you need a little more help, working with a Career Coach will give you access to all the tools and market data you need to successfully navigate a career change.