There are many reasons to change career: you want to earn more money; the commute is wearing you out, you’re not using the skills you enjoy, the environment is unstimulating – the list goes on. The reasons for staying put are also manifold: is the career you want really out there and are you ready or, even, good enough for it?

Who are you, anyway?

Before setting your sights on a particular career, it’s a good idea to check out whether it matches your values. By values, I mean the aspects of life and work that make you tick. Knowing your values will help you make choices about what you commit to in your life. Examples of values, could be:

  1. Being appreciated
  2. Financial gain
  3. Working in a team

Defining your skills – Missing and present

In the table below, Sheila, a Fund Analyst is aiming for a position in Fund Management. She’s written down the required skills, and made notes of where she can evince these competencies. You’ll notice the leadership example is not a professional one. Many people utilise a larger pool of skills outside their jobs, than inthem. They do, however, count, so sell this experience.

What they want (in my dream job)What I’ve got
Strategic thinkingManaging Change Team
AnalyticalFund Analyst
Team LeadingRaleigh teams in Costa Rica. Teams of 10. Motivating v. mixed group 20-30s.

Build your network

Networking is simply ‘meeting people and building relationships’ – not the furious business card swapping exercise that some people envisage. Here are several suggestions that can help you to fill up skills gaps and meet others who could be your guide, mentor or future boss. At the same time, you might even enjoy yourself!

  1. Voluntary work. Some companies already have initiatives between local communities and employees. Ask your manager, HR or have a look here
  2. Toastmasters. Meet like minded people and polish up on your speaking skills. Log on to: www.toastmaster.org
  3. Networking Associations: Well, this you know already!
  4. Courses/ The Gym/Dance Class/Holidays/Aeroplanes…anywhere! Just get talking to people!

Taking a dip

Shadowing

Sometimes the idea of a certain job belies what it actually involves. There are ways of dipping your toes in the water before you dive in with CVs and telephone calls to Recruitment Consultants. If you’re looking for a transition within your current company, try arranging a shadowing assignment through your manager or a contact in the department in which you’re interested. Shadowing gives you a kind of ‘Day in the Life’ view of a job. To gain the best insight, you need to make sure the person being shadowed is a good performer in that role and is happy to share their time and experience with you.

A secondment

This might last for a couple of weeks or several months. It’s an effective way of filling in any skills gaps you might have for the position you want but depends on your manager accommodating the arrangement. Some will willingly allow a secondment as part of your career development plan.

The Internet

Not only can you read useful articles, giving you an insight into your chosen area, but you can also do your job hunting there as well. Internet sites such http://www.efinancialcareers.co.uk/ have a wide variety of job in finance and banking. If you’re looking for something in completely different area, just use Google, and type in ‘jobs in [preferred sector]‘.

Peel off labels

Some companies will encourage their employees with a career transition but the harsh reality is that many will not – once they’ve labelled you, you’re stuck. If you want to change label, change company.

Emphasize the positives

The further up the job pyramid you go, the more important it is to sell integrated solutions. For example, you were in Business Development and don’t have all the IT skills that are a prerequisite for a Project Management position. What you would emphasize is that you can work with IT in offering your strong strategic and business sense so that IT solutions have a broader application and acceptance across the board.

Remember, if you start now by being what it is that you want, the rest is much more likely to follow. Time changes things, but it’s more likely to happen in your favour if you take the controls.