If you’re ready for a career change, or giving it a thought due to Australia’s current employment conditions, we have just the expert insight to tell you where to start and how to smash through the roadblocks.
Australia’s economy is facing unprecedented setbacks as the coronavirus crisis continues to impact businesses across the country. The number of Aussies that are out of work is on the rise and the federal government is bracing for 10% unemployment when jobless figures for June are released.
Now, more than ever before, it’s time to get out of your head and into action — whether it’s because you’ve been stood down, made redundant or you’re just unhappy with the type of work you’re currently doing. With a lot of time on your hands during self-isolation, you might get super pumped for five minutes about changing careers, before you realise you don’t know what you’re doing.
To help you dip your toes in the water, we’ve asked Sydney-based career counsellor, John Taccori and career and interview coach Leah Lambart of Relaunch Me in Melbourne, to give us their top tips on changing careers and how best to tackle the challenges that come with the transition.
Job change or career change: which one is it?
In a phone interview with Lifehacker Australia, Taccori emphasised that before jumping the gun, it’s important to ask yourself whether it’s a job change you’re after or a career change.
“Anyone can change a job and anyone can get a job, even if it takes a little time. But a career change is very different, it’s a purposeful change and significantly more permanent,” Taccori explained.
“When people do lose their job, it’s an opportunity for them to start to reflect on the possibility of going on a different career path. Although these are unfortunate times, there’s a chance for people to make some important decisions.”
Start thinking but don’t expect things to change overnight
If you think finding a new job takes a long time, changing careers is a different ballgame altogether and you can’t expect your circumstances to change overnight.
“There’s a lot of reflection and a lot of research that has to go into it. What we’ve found is that people change careers (not jobs) every 10 years. And, it takes around two years from the time they start thinking about it to actually moving into a new industry as they may have to retrain,” Taccori said.
Although the time frame seems long, especially for struggling Aussies, career coach Lambart believes it’s still an opportunity for those who’ve already been thinking about changing careers to get the ball rolling.
“I think future employers will understand that people have used this opportunity, particularly if they’ve lost their job, as a way of exploring careers that are perhaps going to be more fulfilling or more meaningful,” Lambart explained to Lifehacker Australia over the phone.
It’s important to do a self-assessment before making any decision
Lambart suggested people interested in changing careers should do a self-assessment to really understand their personality and what sort of work they’re interested in.
“Ask yourself: What are you interested in, what are you values and strengths, and what is it that’s most important to you?” Lambart said.
“Often people rush off and sign up for a new course before they really think about whether the career outcomes at the end are going to be the right fit for them.”
There are various online tools, available for free, that you can use to carry out a self-assessment or alternatively, you can go to a career counsellor to get a clearer picture. Taccori, for instance, uses a vocational assessment as a starting point to target what occupations people are best suited to.
“Some people have come to me and said that they don’t want to do the assessment and I should tell them what to do. That’s the wrong approach. Whether it’s me or your family member, we would only be guessing. You know yourself best and it’s why doing the vocational test is so important,” Taccori said.
Research, research, research
After carrying out a self-assessment, Lambart said the next most important step is doing thorough research before making any decisions. Often what we think a job involves might be completely different in reality.
“What I usually suggest is starting with online research, looking at different career sites and job boards to get a feel for what specific employers are looking for. But most importantly, try to talk to people who are working in the industry you’re eyeing,” she said.
The next step is to identify your transferable skills as well as to work out any skill gaps that you’ll need to address. This is important for the next stage in your plan to change careers.
Upskill and retrain yourself
Retraining yourself is almost non-negotiable when you’re looking to move into a different industry. The extent of it though depends on the skill gaps you’ve identified.
The Australian government has already taken initiative to help out displaced workers by announcing a Higher Education Relief Package on April 12 which will reduce the cost to study short online courses at both universities and non-universities. The courses, which are currently being developed, will be available from 1 May for six months.
“This is a really good time for Aussies to reflect and engage in further studies to upskill, especially if they’re in self-isolation and sitting idly wondering what to do next. In fact, there are other institutes such as TAFE NSW that are working on similar strategies — offering courses at zero cost or at reasonable prices,” Taccori said.
Tailor your documents and fix up relevant social media profiles
It’s never a walk in the park when you have to fix up your resume and cover letter. A lot of thought and effort has to go into it, especially when you’re constantly stuck making changes following feedback from a career counselor, family member or your best friend.
“Don’t just start firing off your resumes — that’s where people really go wrong. Employ job search strategies and tailor your documents to match the industry and the role you’re applying for,” Lambart explained.
“Make sure any relevant social media profiles, and more specifically LinkedIn, are up-to-date because employers will more often than not do a quick search on potential candidates.”
Lambart also discouraged going to recruiters as they are almost always on the lookout for a candidate who’s already suitable for an advertised role.
Network and maintain your confidence
Lambart emphasised the importance of networking and building relationships in the industry you’re interested in. It might be starting off small with someone you already know — taking baby steps to build confidence and getting used to asking people for advice or guidance.
“It’s often times difficult to get out of your comfort zone but start making your way through personal connections or asking someone you know well to introduce you to people. It starts becoming a lot easier when you get into the habit of doing it,” she said.
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