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Getting to the point when you want to change your career can be both exciting and scary. That’s how I felt when I decided that a marketing career was not for me. When I started looking for a new job, recruitment consultants were my natural first point of contact. They happily talked to me and presented available roles. But there was a problem. All those roles sounded too similar to what I was doing already, just with competitors or a smaller organisation.
I knew that was not what I wanted. I wanted something radically different. I went round and round in circles in my head, trying to find an answer. I read every career change book I could find. Still, I didn’t come up with solutions.
Then I started searching job portals, hoping to find some good-fit-roles. To my pleasant surprise, I found the roles that sounded like a perfect fit. I started applying to these jobs and finding internal recruiters to send my CV, hoping to get an initial job interview. That approach had two outcomes: silence or a rejection email.
It shook my confidence, but also made me realise that recruitment consultancies and a traditional job market isn’t designed for career changers.
Job portals, recruitment consultants, CVs, competency interviews, all have their uses in your career change. But they’re not the place to start.
If you feel stuck in a job that isn’t you and don’t know where to start, the traditional job market and goal setting will probably not help.
Instead, allow yourself to be confused at first and let go of your need to know everything at the beginning of your career transition. In my recent blog The Best Career Change Approach I talk about the following career change steps:
Don’t exhaust yourself with the attempt to find one magical answer that will bring a profound positive change. When you want to embark on a career change, a good idea might be to research the projects or steps to give you a flavour of the new job.
If you are not ready to leap to something new, experiment with activities without making any major commitments. This will allow you to still hold onto your existing job and identity until you narrow your options.
3. Search for meaning
Focus your attention on testing and learning about all possible versions of yourself. You are not only reflecting on who you are; you are testing whether you really want what you think you want. If you conclude that this career idea was just an illusion, this is still a good outcome! Use that insight to adjust your expectations and decide on your next move.
4. Focus on incremental shifts
What you make of events is more important than the events themselves. Life will send many surprises your way, so take advantage to revise or reconsider your story. Be open for your leadership identity to change along the way – build on the incremental shifts instead of waiting for a life-changing moment to come to you.
5. Inform the next cycle
Only through interaction and active engagement in the real world, you discover your true self. When you get stuck and feel confused with the insights, reflect on how and why you are changing. Do not let unanswered questions demotivate you. Move on, cycle through these phases repeatedly until you find your authentic self and land your desired job.
Making a career change isn’t easy. But it is possible.
I don’t say it is possible because I managed to change my career, but hundreds of stories around us remind us that it is never too late for a career change, even if you are totally confused now.
Most importantly, career change isn’t just about your career. Career change is about your life.
It’s about how you feel every day and about the positive impact that you can make on the world through being fully alive in what you do.
With the right approach and support, you can make your own career change success story.
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