Top tips and advice for career change

If you thought starting a new job was difficult, starting an entirely new career is something else and ranks right up there with moving house and ending a relationship when it comes to the most stressful things in life.

As ever, Agency Central are providing the scented candles and calming bubble bath by offering what we believe to be the best advice to consider when changing your career.

Be flexible with salary (but not to your detriment)

Leaving the stability of one job for the uncertainty of another usually means that some compromises are going to have to be made; usually in the size of the pay cheque. Being flexible in regards to salary is vital when setting out on a new career however it's also important not to undersell yourself. Taking a hit in earnings is almost inevitable when entering a position with no experience but this doesn't mean that your lifestyle should also have to suffer. Be aware of what the current level of pay for the industry is and how this measures up to your home budget. Accepting a job that doesn't cover your spend will only leave you low on morale and probably more likely to move on quickly.

Build your network

Relationships are key to a career change and connecting with the right people, both in the real world and online, will afford you the advice, support and industry know-how to gain a foothold in your new chosen field. This is more than just a case of growing your LinkedIn web though and quality definitely wins over quantity when building a beneficial network of contacts. As off-putting as it may seem, networking events and conferences are a great way to meet like minded people who are either leaders in the industry or in the same maiden voyage boat as you are. These people can be your safety net and also a potential step up to new opportunities. Social media can't be ignored though and picking the minds of the industry's best and brightest could afford you a wealth of knowledge to help you reinvent your personal brand.

Acknowledge transferable skills

Just because you want to take a whole new career path doesn't mean that your current portfolio of expertise should now be considered obsolete. Applying for jobs within an industry where you have zero experience can leave you relying on employers to take a sizeable gamble, however some skills aren't job specific and will make you an attractive candidate regardless of the position. Management prowess is relative to all areas of work; as is the ability to solve problems, meet deadlines and demonstrate creative flair. Being able to recognise these transferable qualities will go some way to compensating for your lack of industry exposure.

Gain experience without the commitment

The fantasy of a career change can be more appealing than the reality so sometimes it can pay to test the waters before diving in from the top board. Volunteering and part-time jobs are a great way to gain experience in your prospective new field without having to compromise the health of your bank account. Chances are that this experience will only justify your decision to change careers, however it can occasionally prompt a rethink and perhaps an appreciation for your existing employer.

Don't leave your job without a plan

Walking out of the office doors in a moment of professional liberation can be all too tempting once you've already made the decision to quit, but unless you have a plan, this is ill-advised. It's a cliche that it's easier to look for a job whilst in a job and it seems that the lack of financial pressure coupled with the lack of gap on your CV would certainly make this the case. Finding your next venture can take time and if you've not got a wealth of cash reserves to carry you through, then staying in work will smooth the career transition without making you so desperate that you take the first job that comes along.

Be aware that you may have to start from the bottom

Rolling the dice on a career change is nothing short of a gamble but it's even more daunting when you've worked so admirably to rise through the ranks of your current vocation. Unfortunately, a new career usually means starting again which can be enough to deter those who find the thought of climbing from the bottom too disheartening. You can't expect to move vertically into a similarly weighted role in an unfamiliar industry, but throwing yourself into a fresh start and learning new skills could prove to be the reinvigorating career boost you were hoping for.

Is it the job or the employer?

Sometimes a dislike for your employer can cleverly disguise itself as a desire to change careers so it's best to analyse the true reasons for wanting to take on a different profession. Chances are that you started to tread on your current career path for all the right reasons, but those things can easily get forgotten amongst inconceivable workloads, annoying colleagues and unappreciative bosses. It's important to remember though that bosses and colleagues will come and go, but a reason to get out of bed in the morning (besides the rent) should still remain. If the spark truly has gone, then your decision to move on is vindicated.

Changing careers is always fraught with uncertainty but finally taking that leap could prove to reignite a professional spark that has been lying dormant for far too long. Whether it's through boredom, disillusionment or desire for something new, there are many reasons to change your career and hopefully these top tips will help make that change a smooth and fulfilling one.