10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Embarking On A Career Change
Millions of people around the world have quit their jobs this year, in what has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’ – and it looks set to continue into 2022.
Two out of three workers plan to make changes to their careers in the next year, ranging from cutting their hours to finding a new job, according to new research from Aviva.
Its survey of 4,000 workers suggests the pandemic has made us rethink our priorities and expectations when it comes to work, with inflexible working hours now the most common “deal breaker” among job seekers.
This strange 19 months has also inspired more people to make the leap and go it alone, with 8% of people planning to set up their own business in the coming months, compared to 6% in July.
It may be on trend, but changing careers is not a decision to be taken lightly. Here, three career coaches share the questions you should absolutely ask yourself first.
1. What are my core values?
First and foremost, it’s important to consider your values before embarking on any change, says Nancy Roberts, who offers career training, coaching and mentoring.
Figuring out your values might involve asking yourself a series of sub-questions such as: do you value working in a purpose-driven environment? Do you value time spent with your family? Do you value autonomy, or being part of a team, more? Do you value status, such as salary or job title?
“There are no right or wrong answers here so you should be honest in thinking about this, as it will help you to ensure that any change you are making will fit with those values, and also that you know what compromises (eg on salary, location etc) you should be prepared to consider and those you should hold firm on,” says Roberts.
“Almost all the people I meet who are really disaffected with their career are in that state because ultimately they don’t fully believe in what they are doing.”
2. What are the things I like most about my current career?
This can be hard, especially if you are feeling disaffected or demotivated in your current role. But Roberts says it’s worth interrogating why you were in that career in the first place, and what initially attracted you to it.
“This may give you a renewed insight into what you were originally looking for and whether it is a career change you need, as opposed to a new job in the same sector,” she says. “Once you have this clarity, you can then consider whether any of these initial motivations for taking your current role are still relevant when choosing your new career.”
3. What are the things I enjoy least about my current job?
Equally, it’s worth thinking about the reasons you want to switch careers, so you don’t make the same mistake twice, says life and career coach Lottie Trump.
“Is it the actual day-to-day work, your working environment, the company, your colleagues or even your boss?” she says.
“For example, working in finance for a start-up is very different to working in finance for a large corporate. Can any aspect of this be changed or resolved in order to improve your situation? Perhaps it is a case of creating a better work/life balance or working for a company that offers this? What is one step you could take today to make a difference?”
4. What would I do for free?
We’re not suggesting you work for free, but asking this hypothetical question might help you figure out what you want to do next, says leadership and holistic health coach Heidi Hauer.
“Where is your heart drawn to? What is your soul yearning for? Sometimes we are exhausted, tired and close to a burn-out, not because work is so terribly stressful, but because deep down inside we know that we are meant to do something else,” she says.
“This inner conflict can tear us apart and unless we face up to our fears and take the leap of faith, we’ll always be stressed and complain about our boss. Life is too short and too precious to ignore your life’s purpose.”
5. What are the top three things I would like from a different job?
Narrowing your list down to three might help the choice seem less overwhelming. Trump recommends considering the commute, the pay, the hours, the work, the people, and the pressure.
“Now is a great time to ‘design your ideal working day,’” she says. “What would this look like? What would you be doing? Once you have created this, you can compare it to what you are currently doing and notice the differences and similarities.”
6. Could my current job meet these needs?
Before you jump ship, consider the possibilities you might have to expand and change your current role in a way that makes it interesting and attractive to you again, says Hauer.
“Put on your creative hat and come up with new ways to shape your existing role into a job that excites you,” she says. “Propose a collaboration with a team you’d like to learn from, ask for more or less responsibilities, engage the company in charitable work. Whatever it is, sit down with your boss and share some new ideas before you change careers entirely.”
If you’re dead set on moving it’s important to be realistic, particularly when it comes to salary, says Roberts.
“If you are changing career you may need to enter your new career at a lower level; what is the lowest salary you could live on without compromising your current lifestyle too much?” she says.
“I would recommend doing a budget and setting yourself a range that you would need to aim for, so that you don’t waste time looking at roles which you simply can’t afford to take.”
Trump also recommends thinking about the implications for your family – if any. “Talk to those why rely on you – what are their thoughts and perspectives?” she says.
Something more positive to consider, is what the potential for growth is in your new career. If you do enter at a lower level when can you reasonably expect to move up and develop?
8. Do I have the skills to get the job I want?
Make a list of any transferable skills you have, says Trump. If you’re coming up short, research how can you gain the necessary skills to move on.
“Can you afford to take time out to retrain and gain a new qualification? Is this something you would consider doing? How about an apprenticeship?” she says. “Nowadays these aren’t just reserved for ‘trade’ jobs.”
Certain sectors offer grants to retrain, adds Roberts, so it’s worth having a good search for options before you splash any cash.
9. What do my friends and family see as my strengths?
You don’t have to figure this out alone. Often others around us can give insights that we don’t see ourselves, says Roberts.
“For example, we often take for granted things that come easily to us whereas other people will value those more highly,” she explains. “So consider how your friends and those close to you would describe you; does this throw up any new ideas about potential careers? Do these strengths align with the demands and requirements of the new career you are considering?”
10. Am I otherwise happy?
Before quitting your job, make sure you’ve established that your job is the real problem.
“Be aware of knee-jerk reactions. Ask yourself how happy you are in other areas of your life and be honest with yourself. What is it that you need to be truly happy in life and at work?” says Hauer.
“Perhaps dissatisfaction in your relationship needs to be looked at instead, or maybe you are having a tough time with your kids. If that’s the case, it might not be wise to throw a career change in there as well.”