Chances are that you’ve experienced the Sunday Night Blues. You know, that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you think about going in to work tomorrow?
Between you and me, I didn’t experience the Sunday Night Blues. No, I had that sense of dread EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT!
Despite doing everything “right”, I found myself feeling sick at the thought of this being my future, working in a job that made me unhappy and in an environment I hated for the next 40 years.
I’ve always been a hard worker, and after years of studying for exams, I graduated from law school and completed the LPC, a professional course that is part of the process in becoming a solicitor in England and Wales.
Following my dreams, I began working in a law firm. Just like I’d always done, I put 100% into my work but although I was being praised by my boss, I felt like something was missing. Instead of being satisfied, I was stressed all the time and saw the job as more of a punishment than a passion.
Despite being unhappy, I carried on working in law for a year or two. After all, this is what I wanted and I wasn’t qualified to do anything else. Speaking to friends about their jobs, I was jealous of the creative roles that they seemed to be excelling in and often daydreamed about what it would be like to work in Marketing.
By this point, I’d been blogging for a couple of years as a hobby, learning so many skills in the process. I used my blog as a creative release away from law and became obsessed with learning more about digital marketing.
My happiness reaching rock bottom, I finally decided that I couldn’t work in law anymore. People say the grass is always greener on the other side, but from where I was standing, it wasn’t possible for it to be any worse.
Flash forward 2 years and I’ve graduated with distinction from an MSc Marketing degree, worked as a marketing assistant in a travel company and am now about to launch my own marketing business.
Do you want to know how the grass looks now? Well, I’m not going to lie and say there haven’t been stressful moments, because there have definitely been a few. But there have also been so many positives and I’m finally starting to feel satisfied. For me, the grass IS greener on the other side.
If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you’re feeling similar to how I was when I worked in law and probably thinking that there is no way you can have a career change as dramatically different as mine.
Well, I’m here to tell YOU that you’re wrong!
Using my own first-hand experience, I’m sharing with you a super simple 10 stage process for not only having a successful career change, but also following your passions and creating a life you love.
Ready to make 2020 your best year yet? It’s time for your career change!
How To Have A Successful Career Change
Stage 1: Understand your current situation
You’ve decided you want a career change, but now it’s time to understand why. Keep a work diary and record how you react to different situations. Do you notice any themes? Can you identify things to you like and dislike about your job?
At this stage, it’s important to work out whether you actually want a career change or just a different job. Are you trying to run away from a difficult situation that can be fixed by talking to your manager? If you forget about the environment that you work in and focus on just your role, do you like it? If you do, it might be a case of doing the same job somewhere else.
Make sure you consider everything before you start planning your career change.
Stage 2: Look at your finances before you plan a career change
This stage is all about getting your house in order.
As cliche as it sounds, time is money, and a successful career change is going to take a bit of both.
Look at all your outgoings and ingoings and really understand your finances. Cut out unnecessary spending and use any surplus cash to invest in your career change.
Whether you’re looking for a job in a new industry or starting your own business, it’s always a good idea to have some savings to pay your bills if it takes a while to get your career off the ground.
Remember that strict budgets are only temporary and they will help you follow your passion. Your discipline will be worth it in the long term.
Stage 3: Get clear on what you want and what you can offer
That work diary you kept in Stage 1 is going to come in handy during this stage.
Spend time to understand what your core values are and use them to guide your career change. Do you like being independent or prefer to collaborate in a group? Do you love adventure or prefer stability?
Next, critically assess your skills and what you can bring to the table. Do you have a way with words or are you better with visuals? Are you great with numbers or a technical whizz?
Lastly, consider what you’re passionate about. Do you want to work with children or animals? Are you interested in a particular industry or role?
All three of these aspects will drive your career change so make sure you take your time, dig deep and really understand what you want.
Stage 4: Imagine your career change possibilities
It’s now time to let your imagination run wild and think of all the potential new careers you could pursue.
Use job sites to look at new industries, talk to friends or even speak to a career counsellor for extra guidance. Don’t forget considering different roles in the same industry as your current career!
After you’ve made a long list of potential jobs, select a few that really excite you for further in-depth research.
When narrowing down your options, think about what professions are in demand where you live. It’s also worth considering if your experience and education can be transferred to your new potential career, although I’m proof that you can build this up with a bit of hard work.
Stage 5: Use social media to network
When you’re planning a career change, social media is your BFF.
Use platforms like LinkedIn, which is made purely for professionals, to connect with people in your potential new industries.
If you're like me and the thought of networking can be a little overwhelming, find people who went to the same school as you or have a mutual friend. This way, you have a conversation starter and your connections feel less like strangers.
During this stage, find out as much as you can about your industry. This is your chance to learn as much as possible from people who are already on your career path. Did your connections have to overcome any hurdles? What are the positives? What are the negatives?
Building up a strong, genuine relationship with your connections and who knows what opportunities might present themselves!
Stage 6: Test drive your career change
I like to think of myself as a top-notch researcher but research can only get you so far.
To help you decide which career on your short-list you should pursue, talk to your connections and see if any are willing to let you shadow them for a day.
I know that this can be tricky to arrange, especially if you have to take a day off work, but doing this will help you see if the career you imagined is as good in real-life.
Stage 7: Build up your experience by working in the industry
I am proof that you can do a 180-degree career change, but to do that you are going to need some experience.
Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, getting experience in your industry will expose you to common situations you’ll face in your new career.
Volunteer in your local community or establish a side-hustle and work freelance in your chosen field. Whatever you decide to do, don’t be scared to get creative. Graphic designers don’t just have to work freelance. Volunteer your services to local community groups and you may even find your first client when you make your career change!
Stage 8: Make friends with others planning a career change
Making a career change can be a lonely thing. You’ve already spent time making connections in your current role and you might even consider some friends.
Now you’ve decided to make a big change in your life and it’s completely normal to feel like you’re starting again at an age when most of your peers are already established.
However, you are definitely not the only one to be making a career change!
Use social media to find like-minded people who are in a similar situation and build a support system where you can help and motivate each other. Not only will you discover a community of people who understand the highs and lows of making a career change, but you’ll also be able to learn from them and make your transition even more successful.
Stage 9: Upgrade your skills to match your ambition
By this point, you’ve made some connections, gained experience and really understand your new industry and role.
Although you will have lots of transferable skills, you’ve also probably identified gaps in your knowledge and that's fine after all this career is new to you! However, if you are going to make your career a real success, you need to take ownership of your self-development.
There are endless ways you can learn new skills for your career. I went back to university full-time and did a Masters degree, but you could study part-time, go to night school or even do an online course. For those of you on a budget, you can easily teach yourself new skills by watching free tutorials online or learn new techniques by listening to podcasts.
However you decide to upgrade your skills, remember that self-development is a life-long thing and that you will need to keep up to date with any industry advances.
Stage 10: Jump into the career change deep end
After all that time preparing, it’s time to finally make your career change.
It is totally normal to feel nervous and question if this is the right decision. If at this stage you are suffering from self-doubt, remind yourself that you have done everything in your power to prepare for your career change.
My Grandad was my complete inspiration and used to tell me that if you do something half-hearted, you'll get half the results. Apply everything that you have learned throughout these stages and give your career change everything you've got.
Good luck, I hope you have a successful career change!
Are you planning a career change in 2020? Let me know in the comments below and start networking now!
Jessica Riley is a Virtual Marketing & Blog Assistant from Manchester, UK.
With an M.Sc. in Marketing, she helps bloggers and small business create click-worthy content through a wide range of services including content planning, blog post writing and, social media management and engagement.
She also writes a Travel & Lifestyle Blog called The Crown Wings and has worked with leading brands such as St. Tropez and Icelolly.com.