Back in the days, if your grandpa was a carpenter, there was a very high chance that your dad was going to probably become (maybe even happily) a carpenter and then you would probably feel very inclined to continue the tradition also. But, lately, as you might have noticed, it is becoming less and less frequent that anyone stays in one company for more than 5 years.
Why is it so?
Our societies have become more liquid, you can literally complete a full official degree from your living room with your laptop and maybe, we crave for more.
Surviving is no longer homo sapiens’ main mission. Now we actually have aspirations, ambitions, we look beyond our basic survival needs. You might be facing your 40s crisis, or simply feel that you really had enough of working in your sector, seeing the same faces at the office, or simply feel you are ready to give your passion a try, and maybe you could live off of that.
There are many reasons for which at one point in our lives, some of us feel a clear, unmistakable, need to give a strong twist to our career paths. You might be at that point, time for some fresh air? Let us HeadHunters with over 15 years of experience in the field tell you about the few things you should consider before you do that.
1st idea before a career change
Hire a career coach. Please let me repeat that one more time, DO HIRE A CAREER COACH. And a good one possibly. We are very biased, especially about ourselves, so it is incredibly hard to have a neutral vision of ourselves from within. It is especially easy though, to have from the outside.
Hiring a career coach to discuss a bit how you might want to tackle this whole process will help you design an action plan and decide carefully when it is best to actually take the step.
Unless you are absolutely clear that you want to quit being a doctor to start your own knitting school (a common example, just saying…), then have a specialist assist you, maybe just for a few sessions, could be of invaluable benefit in this delicate stage. You might be unsure of how to best communicate it to your closer circle, a part of you will strongly resist exiting the status quo and your comfort zone and you will notice how subconsciously you might feel like delaying the crucial step (leap of faith) every week.
Sometimes even if you are 200% sure of what you are doing, it never harms to have a second opinion, have someone to play devil’s advocate and simply make sure you are not taking this decision from a too emotional standpoint. It personally happened to me, I once quit an extremely nice job after an unpleasant situation I experienced with a client, that led to my boss of the time making a too big deal out of it. At that stage it was already many months that I was considering quitting to start my own venture, so I interpreted that event as a sort of sign, I was fed, so I resigned. But on second thought, many years after, it would have been actually much more strategic from my side to quit my job 6 to 12 months after that time. In order to give a bit more time for my business to grow before jumping towards the entrepreneurial void.
Listening to your gut feelings will generally lead you 99% of the time towards the right direction, but spending a few hundred euros to make sure that you are not facing that 1% is probably worth it.
2nd idea before a career change
Don’t rush it. There is a part of our psyche that is interested in novelty. Some clear examples of this is that unless you are Steve Jobs or Batman, we usually enjoy wearing slightly different clothes every day, or eating a bit differently. Variety is part of how our brains our engineered, it was an initial basic instinct that enabled us to eat a wider selection of foods so that we would get all the vitamins and minerals we actually need. But that stuck, so now we get bored easily and we seek variety a bit everywhere. Social media platforms know this way too well, this is why they figured out ways to provide you with new content on your feed even if you stare at your phone for a full afternoon. All of this looooong paragraph to say that as variety is so much part of our brain structure, and as works are often structurally a series of repetitive actions glued together that result in a salary at the end of the month, I feel you, you do get bored. Mondays become torture and weekends feel way too short.
But, you should not rush this crucial step in your life. You might want to plan it carefully, take in consideration what is going on in your environment (eg. you have 8 kids and a mortgage, or, worldwide pandemic anyone?) and basically, consider carefully the timing of it all.
A simple exercise I suggest is to take one of those paper meters that IKEA offers for example, or if not simply draw a line on a paper, from 1 to 85. Now place a dot where your age is right now, so for example, if you are 42 then you should put it somewhere in the middle of your lifeline. This simple, yet very effective exercise is simply to show you your whole life from a wider perspective.
Often when we reach our boiling point, we really just want to run away, quit our job and we have so many idealized hopes on how it could be, once we change profession. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a party-pooper and destroy your enthusiasm, quite the opposite actually. All I am trying to point out here, is simply that you might want to calculate wisely and strategically, when is the best timing for you to do this change. And if there can be perhaps a slightly longer preparation period from your side, in which you can save a bit more, maybe take a few more courses or certifications regarding your new exciting step, or take into consideration the general economical environment, before making an abrupt structural change in your life. The life-line exercise is aiming to show you that your life is still long and that 6-12 months more, won’t make a significant change in your whole life. So take your time, and even if you are totally fed up with your current job, discuss with your friends or with a Coach, how to plan this thoroughly.
3rd idea before a career change
Do some research. I am a millennial, even if I am supposedly one of the most senior millennials out there (Class of 1986), I still grew up in an environment in which our parents told us when we were 4 that we could become Presidents of the United States. I’m not sure if all that empowering mambo jumbo did so good to us, as the masterpiece of Sir Ken Robinson “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything” illustrates, being in your Element, is actually a mixture of your passions TOGETHER with your natural abilities and talents in a specific field. I might deeply love Ballet, but perhaps I might not be fit for that role. I could also be incredibly good at accounting (I’m really not! Haha) but actually hate doing it. So be very careful about not confusing your hobby, passion, love for a specific activity, or possible professional future, with your innate natural talents and abilities for it. There are many paid or free tests out there that can be incredibly beneficial to help you grasp a better idea of what you are naturally great at, and see how that can intertwine with your future dream job or project. Do also some research to understand how big is the market in which you are trying to compete, how big is the competition in your specific area. Following your heart will often be one of the best decisions you will take, but a tiny bit of business analysis, asking some questions around and doing a few spreadsheets here and there, trust me, it will never do you harm. Simply put, even if you truly adore sailing, just do not open a sailing school if you live in the mountains. Silly example, but you got my point.
4th idea before a career change
Solo or team up? One small big detail I noticed throughout the years, is how most people actually truly enjoy helping others. For this very reason, I never shied away from raising my hand and asking more experienced professionals, for some tips on how to get to their level. So please do the same, we way too often don’t want to be in people’s way, we don’t want to disturb. The deep truth, however, is that even you ten years down the line will highly appreciate helping someone new, who is recently trying to figure out how to start a new business that you know a lot about. You will see yourself at the beginning, struggling to move the first steps, and why not investing just thirty minutes of your time to give some simple ideas that might be HUGE for that person.
For this same reason, you might also decide to partner with someone at the beginning. Do you remember how people used to become goldsmiths in the past? Unless your family was in the business, you would beg to work for free with another goldsmith for enough time that would allow you to learn from them. Internships they call it nowadays, with the only difference that 6 or 9 months won’t likely do the trick. So you might want to look on doing an internship, working for free, partnering or even straight out paying to be able to learn a bit from someone who is more experienced than you in a field.
I personally started two successful businesses without having too much previous experience in those fields and that has proven to be a mistake. You must have good control over the basic skills required to run that particular business or activity, if not, you can pay consultants, mentors or professionals to help you speed up your natural learning curve. Asking tons of feedback to your future clients is also very helpful. The book Running Lean by Ash Maurya reports great examples on how to properly structure a methodic feedback questionnaire to your potential future clients BEFORE starting your business.
5th and final idea before your career change
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish said Steve Jobs in his epic 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. This very motivating speech that I personally enjoy listening to at least twice a year, I believe serves as a great reminder for maintaining a sort of curious and open-minded approach towards life. I am 34 at the time of writing this article and up until now, I have changed career paths quite a few times. After studying from age 10 to 24, foreign languages in Italy I then moved to Argentina and worked in the Music Events industry, Luxury Real Estate, Real-Time Online Advertisement, HORECA, Real Estate Investments, Public Speaking, Marketing Consulting and then finally Recruitment.
We live in a very liquid society now in which most companies are looking for attitude and aptitude rather than years of courses after courses. If you are humble, eager to learn, and willing to be open to new professional challenges (Hungry & Foolish), I can most definitely guarantee you that receiving a good salary not only it will never be a problem for you, but especially you will for sure enjoy this journey called life. Work is a very important aspect of our lives, We roughly spend a third up to half our work-weeks with activities related to work or actively working.
Remain hopeful about the many possibilities that are out there and explore. Now, with more and more jobs becoming fully online, this means that you no longer need to limit yourselves to the work opportunities that are within your city, but you can expand way beyond the borders of your city, or country!
I hope some of these ideas will encourage you to stand up and fight to include your talents, passions, aspirations and desires into your upcoming professional change. For the third time, we highly suggest having just a few sessions with a Career Coach before taking any major decision. You can always have a first free shorter session with a Career Coach, just to see if you have chemistry with them, before you decide to work with them. Unlike psychology, a Coach will be able to work with you on a very specific topic, with way fewer sessions. So the investment side will be small and with 2 to 5 sessions you should be able to have much more clarity on the when, what, where and how, you put the who!