Are you ready for a career change?
There’s a time in almost everyone’s career that things don’t quite seem right. You might be bored, stressed or unfulfilled, and feel the urge to pursue a path more aligned with your passion. You find yourself scouring job boards, careers blogs and university websites, searching for a way out of your predicament.
Job mobility makes a great deal of sense in today’s world, where graduates can expect to work in 17 jobs and go through five career changes in their life. Now might be the perfect time to reinvent your career.
“These days, nearly everybody will feel the desire to make a career change at some point in their lives,” says Timothy Ivins, ACU’s Integrated Marketing Manager (Postgraduate). “When you do finally decide to leave, it’s not unusual to move into a completely different profession.”
Tim can speak from experience. For over a decade, he has worked at various universities in London and Australia. But he wasn’t always in higher education.
“I started out in the public service, but at some point I realised that where I was happiest was in a university environment, so I decided to take a risk and change careers,” he says.
“For me, I knew I wasn’t going to change the world, but if I could help someone else on their journey and perhaps change their world, that idea really motivated me. A decade later, it still does.”
In the TED series ‘The Way We Work’, entrepreneur Chieh Huang says the key to career satisfaction is “finding the intersection between what you really, really love and what you’re really, really good at”.
“As simple as it sounds,” he says, “it’s really not that easy to find.”
Chieh would know. He’s been an English teacher, a lawyer and a video game creator and is now the CEO of an eco-conscious toilet paper company.
While he was working as a lawyer at a big city firm, he held one of the two magic ingredients: he was good at his job, he just didn’t love it.
For three years, he found himself “holding on for dear life, working really late hours”, before he eventually made the “completely scary leap into a brand new career”.
Making that leap is no easy feat. It requires deep thought about why you want to go, and a thorough analysis of what you’re going to do next.
Chieh identifies three main things to think about when deciding to change careers:
Are you still learning? If you’re not being given the opportunities to learn, or you simply don’t have the care factor to get better at your job, it’s time to consider moving on.
Trust your gut. If you find yourself waking up in the morning with butterflies in the stomach at the thought of heading to work, there’s a good chance your gut is trying to tell you something.
Pain shouldn’t be a factor. If the problem is short-term, like a boss or a colleague who you don’t get along with, or a project that is causing you grief, that’s probably not a good reason to change careers. All jobs have pain points.
In his role at ACU, Timothy regularly comes into contact with people looking to make a career change, and their motivations for doing so vary considerably.
Some find they’ve hit a growth ceiling; their career has plateaued and they feel stuck.
“Not feeling challenged is a common motivation for wanting to change careers, and sometimes it’s simply that the job satisfaction isn’t there anymore,” Timothy says.
“They don’t have that organisational commitment, and over time that dissatisfaction will lead them to pursue a career change and do something new.”
For those tossing up whether to stay or leave, one of the tricky parts is ensuring your career change is not a permanent solution to temporary work dissatisfaction.
On the other hand, if the dissatisfaction persists, it may drive you to make a difficult decision that pays off in the long run.
“Sometimes you really do want a change, but you’ve faced some barriers that seem too hard to overcome,” he says.
“It’s like the old adage, ‘the straw the broke the camel’s back’ … a piece of straw is not heavy on its own, but if these small things keep building up, often they do become heavy enough to force a decision.”
Once you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, it’s a good idea to tread carefully. This in-between stage can be fraught with uncertainty and doubt.
Seeking advice and asking questions is essential to finding the right pathway to your new career, and university support staff can be a great source of information.
“It’s always exciting to talk to people who don’t have a really clear idea about what they want to do next, because it opens them up to so many different options to find something that’s right for them,” Timothy says.
“I also speak to people who know exactly what they want to do, and exactly what path they want to take to get there, and that’s always really inspiring, too.”
In many cases, you’ll need to pursue further study to gain a qualification required for your new career, whether it’s a postgraduate course or a new bachelor’s degree.
Be sure to check out the range of scholarship opportunities, financial aid and government assistance that can help with study costs.
And while it can be daunting to head back to uni after a long hiatus, those who commit find that the intellectual, financial and personal benefits are worth it in the long run.
“Postgraduate study can be a great way of achieving a career change,” Timothy says.
“We see a lot of people who realise that what they’re really passionate about is teaching, so they leave their job to pursue their passion. Or they want to move into a care role, so they decide to go into the Master of Social Work.
“Whatever it is that you choose to pursue, if you’re retraining to follow a passion, it makes it easier to stay strong, focused and persistent when things get tough.”
Ready to take the plunge and get qualified for a new career? Explore our courses.