What to know about making a career change now

Change to our working lives, routines, and the world around us can be hard – and it has been for many of us during COVID-19. But this kind of upheaval can also do something else: it can make us stop and reassess the way we’re living our lives and what we really want – including in our work.

If you’re considering changes to your job or work right now, you’re not alone. More than 40% of Kiwis are looking to make a career change after COVID-19, research conducted on behalf of SEEK has found.

So, how can you approach a career change now? We asked career and interview coach Leah Lambart for her advice on how to make a successful transition.

Why the change?

Making a career change isn’t uncommon – 1 in 2 people make a shift at some point in their professional lives – but the motivation behind the change, and the timing varies (30% plan on making a change in the next few years).

Forty per cent of people are motivated by a greater earning potential, followed closely by the need to feel more fulfilled. Work-life balance is also a huge priority.

The COVID-19 impact

In the current climate, many people have been forced to consider a career change and nearly 20% plan on making a move in the next year. Lambart says this upheaval can be advantageous. “Changing career is an acceptable option in this climate and less likely to be questioned by employers.”

Career change hurdles (and how to overcome them)

The top two barriers people say prevent them from making a career change are:

  1. Fear of the unknown
  2. Existing financial commitments

Lambart is a big fan of surrounding yourself with “cheerleaders” to help you take the leap of faith: people who will have your back and encourage you to keep pursuing the change you’re making.

“It won't be all smooth sailing but if you have done the research and feel confident that your new career is the right fit, then this will give you the drive to keep going,” she says.

She recommends that you organise brief informational interviews or look for opportunities to volunteer or job shadow. Read more about what an informational interview is and why you should do one here.

If finances are your concern, try looking at these tips to stretch, boost and crush your finances for a career change.

I’ve made the decision, so how do I take the leap?

According to Lambart, “career change is a process, not an event, and depending on how big the change is, it could take anything from weeks to years to fulfil.”

Almost half of people who make a career change start with online research, which is exactly what Lambart recommends. As part of this process, she says you need to ask yourself:

  1. Will the work fit my personality?
  2. Will it interest me?
  3. Will it play to my strengths?

If you can answer yes to these three questions, it’s a good time to take the next most common path and start to look for jobs.

You can also read about these 6 steps to a successful career change to help plot your course.

Be your own boss

“Successful companies like Disney and Microsoft started during a recession, so as long as you do your research, now could be the perfect time to start your own venture,” Lambart says. Many people are thinking about owning their own business as a result of COVID-19.

Here are Lambart’s top four tips for entrepreneurs:

  1. Start a business in an area you’re interested in.
  2. Play to your strengths, skills and previous experience.
  3. Do your research and find a gap in the market.
  4. Do your homework about your potential income.

Lambart’s final tip: take one small action each day to move closer to your end goal.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually.

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