A career change does not always involve further study

A career change does not always involve further study

Caroline arrived for her session with me today confused and upset about the idea that she would have to do more study to relaunch her career. She’s already spent five years getting a law degree but after having two children, has decided she wants to become a social worker, and thought she might be able to easily transition.

This situation is more common than you may think. How many people have you met that have taken a leap, decided to follow a passion or even start a new business? Considering a career change is exciting but also daunting and most people think you need to undertake further study to get a foot in the door.

Not true.

You may have already invested years and a substantial sum of money at university to obtain an undergraduate degree and possibly post-graduate qualifications, which makes the thought of returning to even more study quite daunting. And let’s face it, who has time?

Often at this stage in their lives, people have considerable financial commitments and partner or family to support.  This is often the main reason that many stay in a career that they dislike as they assume a career change would be too difficult and too expensive.

So does a career change always involve further study? Don’t assume that. There are many pathways to a new career so it’s important not to dismiss the idea of a career change without doing your research.

Here are some recommended steps:

  • Research your ideal career as thoroughly as possible.
  • Identify your key transferable skills—which skills do you already have?
  • Identify the skills that you don’t have—where are the gaps?
  • Connect with people in your ideal occupation via LinkedIn or other networks
  • Speak with these people to determine the following:
    1. How did they get into the industry?
    2. What are the entry points?
    3. Is further study essential or would short courses fill in the gaps?
    4. If further study is required, what course/institution would they recommend?
    5. What is their advice for getting into the industry?
  • Seek the help of a career consultant to help you with your research.

If in your research you determine that further study is essential, make sure you then research your course options thoroughly. Carefully review the subject outline and content and speak to the course coordinator to make sure it is definitely the right course to fill in those gaps.

I also recommend looking at free online courses as a ‘taster’ before signing up to years of study. There are some fantastic free online courses available on the following websites: Alison.com, Coursera.org and Futurelearn.com.

If you determine that further study is not essential, then continue to develop your industry connections, get out there and meet people in your industry of interest, get active on LinkedIn and make sure your marketing materials are the best they can be.

Written by Leah Lambart, founder of Relaunch MeLeah Lambart is an experienced career coach offering specialised return to work coaching programs through her business, Relaunch Me. These programs are tailored for the individual but may include career counselling, interview coaching, LinkedIn coaching and job search coaching.

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