How to make a career change less daunting

A career change can seem like a foolhardy step, especially in times of economic uncertainty and high unemployment. It can also be the starting point for a fresh and lucrative new range of work opportunities. Changing career needs careful planning and timing, to make sure the sudden shift in security does not become too alarming.

Time for a change?

Planning a career change starts off with an honest audit of your current job. Make an objective list of its plus points and minuses. Is it possible that a few minor tweaks to your current employment can have the same effect as a complete career change?

Try to gain some experience of the new career you are envisaging, before making a commitment. This can involve volunteering, shadowing a professional, or just interviewing workers in that career to get a rounded picture of its attractions and possible downsides.

Use your current career to pave your way to a career change, for example by taking extra training or new responsibilities. The best career change is one that is relatively seamless, where skills you have acquired are transferable.

Online resources like the Career Shifters website at careershifters.org can provide a helpful step-by-step guide to making that change, offering workshops, forums and practical advice, whether you are just considering a change, or midway through the process.

The Government's Jobs and Careers pages at direct.gov.uk offer advice an information on where to obtain free careers advice, and the support that is available to people making a career change. Their Next Step service offers advice online or on the phone.

Keep a safety net

A career change can be one of the most disruptive experiences in your life. Before making the move, it's reassuring to have a degree of financial security, at least to tide you over a few initial transitional months. However tempting it might be to burn all your bridges, it's only sensible to have a Plan B, in case that bright new career proves problematic.

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