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Thinking of a career change? Read this first

It’s a big change to make – but so worth it.

IT’S THE START of a new year, and often this inspires people to make changes in their lives – whether big or small.

One huge thing you may be thinking about changing is your career. It can feel like a daunting thing to do – or even think about – but it really doesn’t have to be.

All it takes is a little research and know-how to get the ball rolling, and you’ll have the job and career of your dreams in no time.

To help you out, we’ve rounded up the seven things you definitely need to know before you change careers. Good luck.

1. What do you really want to do?

Shutterstock / Gustavo Frazao Shutterstock / Gustavo Frazao / Gustavo Frazao

First things first – find out exactly what it is you want to do. Do you know yet?

The best thing you can do for yourself is work out what you really like to do, and how you can make that a career. Additionally, don’t limit yourself when thinking about what it is you like to do, or think you’d like to pursue. If you like to paint, you don’t have to become a painter to immerse yourself in the arts. You could become a museum curator, or a critic, or an art teacher.

You don’t have to monetise every hobby you have, but as someone once said, ‘Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life’.

Sounds good, right?

2.  What do you already know about the area?

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And do you know exactly what’s involved?

It might seem like a silly question, but the idea of owning a boutique bakery selling only organic French pastries to grateful customers who sing your praises daily, and the reality of having to start baking at 4am every day are two very different things.

Same goes for any career – we  may think we know what an architect or an engineer does all day, but do you really?

So, research as much as you can to find out exactly what your new beloved career will entail.

3. How do you find out more about your new career?

Touch Experience on Laptop Screens IntelFreePress IntelFreePress

Following on from the point above, it’s a really good idea to try and speak to at least one person who’s currently in your chosen new field.

Even better would be to speak to at least three people – preferably in different stages of their careers. That way you’ll get a well-rounded selection of information and advice. Don’t be afraid to ask them what they don’t like about the job, as well as what they do.

Maybe they spend most of their days in meetings instead of designing buildings, or doing paperwork instead of life-saving surgeries. Not that you won’t have some opportunity to do the thing you want to do – it’s just that the day-to-day might be markedly different than you imagine. Alternatively, many colleges also arrange free, career-focused events, such as these.

You won’t know until you ask.

4. Who do you know already in that field?

Shutterstock / PathDoc Shutterstock / PathDoc / PathDoc

You often hear, ‘It’s who you know, not what you know’. While that definitely does not apply if your new career-to-be is medicine or something equally masterful – knowing someone in your chosen field could be the best way to get a job in the area.

But what if you don’t know anyone in the field?

You may think you don’t know any actuaries or solicitors or whatever you’re thinking of becoming, but if you sit down and make a list of everyone you know – you might be surprised. We meet a huge amount of people over the course of our lives, and they all know people, who also know people… see where we’re going here?

Once you work out that your friend’s cousin’s bestie is a yoga instructor, just like you want to be – ask your friend if they’d be happy to set up a coffee meeting or lunch. While they might not be able to offer you a job on the spot, they could point you in the best direction of where to look.

You never know what opportunities could arise for you once you’re on someone’s radar.

5. Do you need to retrain?

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Or can you leverage the skills you already have to make the move? Take a look at the tasks that you do on a daily basis at work – you might be surprised how many are transferrable.

Of course, if you’re planning to move to a field that requires a distinct set of skills, like medicine, accountancy or architecture for example, then you’ll definitely need to retrain. In which case, you need to look into where you can do it and if you can do it at night while keeping your day job, or if you have to take the big plunge and head back to college full-time.

6. Where can you retrain?

Education - Creative Commons NEC Corporation of America NEC Corporation of America

If you do need to retrain to get into your chosen area – there are a number of ways to do this.

You could study full-time by day, and if you need to, work part-time at night or the weekends. Alternatively if you’re able to keep your day job and go to college at night, that could be a good option too.

Otherwise, you need to find out where you can do the necessary courses and decide which method of retraining is best for you.

7. Can you get work experience?

Shutterstock / boscorelli Shutterstock / boscorelli / boscorelli

Whether you need to retrain or not (and chances are you probably do), it would be a good idea to try and get some real work experience in the field.

As mentioned above, the day-to-day realities of the job might be very different to how you imagined it – and the only way to find out is by doing.

While it might not seem to be a great way to spend your annual leave – by working – one way to get work experience in your desired field without leaving your current job is to set it up for when you’re on holidays.

Have you changed careers successfully? Got any tips? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’re looking to change careers, the best thing you can do is head over to National College of Ireland’s website and see all the great courses and career options available. Offering full and part-time courses in a wide range of subjects from IT to psychology, marketing and many more – you’ll have no trouble picking and succeeding at a new career. Sign up for our events email here to find out more about our regular open events.

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