What’s the best time to change career?

17th Mar 2019
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The following is an extract from “The Career Doctor” a book by our Managing Director Eoghan McDermott.

People often ask if there is a best age at which to change jobs or careers. It might be helpful if I said, ‘Yes’, but the reality is that career-change can happen successfully at any time. Grandma Moses, one of America’s most famous painters, never lifted a paintbrush until her extreme old age.

You shouldn’t change jobs or careers just for the hell of it, or because you have some sort of vague feeling that you need an extra angle on your CV. But if an opportunity appears out of left field which you know in your gut is what you’ve always wanted to do, or if you find yourself yearning for something other than what you’re currently doing, don’t confine yourself to the rail tracks you’re already on.

Cast your bread on the waters and, whilst you may be scared, you won’t be bored. Does that matter? Of course it does. As many as 60 per cent of Swedish mill workers doing one particular boring task received treatment for peptic ulcers.

The moral would appear to be that you should not spend your life doing a boring job, vaguely hoping the perfect job will come along while never taking a risk and ultimately never moving. .

‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did,’ said Mark Twain, who himself threw up a good job to become a writer. ‘So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream’

Boredom is a lot more than an irritated response to routine. Clinical depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and major vehicle crashes have been attributed, in whole or in part, to boredom. One British study suggests that more than half of the workforce find their job pretty consistently boring. Nobody enjoys a boring job. But, according to psychiatrist Raj Persaud, boredom can have serious health implications.

Medical research has found bored workers have three to five times the incidence of cardiovascular disease, four to seven times the incidence of neurological disorders, twice the incidence of gastrointestinal disorders, two to three times the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders and were absent for medical reasons three to five times as often as their non-bored colleagues.

Leave when you’re ready to go, but don’t wait until it becomes the thing you never did.

If you are thinking of changing careers there is a number of things you need to look at:

l. Are qualifications needed?

2. What skills are needed?

3. What experience is needed?

The answer to the qualifications question is fairly obvious get the required one. This can cost time and money you may not believe you have, but if you really want to work in that field, you got to do what you got to do.

For example, if you’ve been working as a nail technician you can’t become a dental assistant without getting the relevant qualifications in the area.

If you don’t need a new qualification, you should ask yourself: ‘Do I have the skills or competences required to do the job?’

For example, if you have been working in sales for the past ten years but would like to move into training, you’ve already started your development for career change. If you’re any good at sales you’ve got a swathe of useful and applicable skills – communication, listening and an ability to build strong relationships quickly.

So your next step is to decide what kind of training you want to do and for whom. One route is to apply to a specialist training company. Or there may be a training department in your current company that you could investigate joining. You can locate many different train-the­ trainer courses by searching on the internet. Having one of these under your belt would do no harm.

As with changing any job, you need to tailor your CV to the requirements of the new job, research the key players in the market, figure out what you have to offer them (as a salesperson that one shouldn’t be a problem) and get working on it.

If you’re bored in your job and want a career change, the two questions you need to ask yourself are:

• Why am I bored?

• Will I be able to afford to take a pay cut?

The second question is important because if you go into something new, you’re not going to be starting at the same seniority level as in your current position. If you’re well paid and important to your company, there must be a way to challenge yourself.

Ever think of asking your boss, ‘Hey Mick, I’m bored out of my skull, any chance of something new being thrown my way?’

That’s normally a good start. If that fails, then you get drastic. One of my clients is a man worth nearly €200 million who started with nothing. I asked him the obvious ‘secret of his success’ question. His answer stunned me: debt. He told me that every time he got his head above water, he invested himself straight back into hock and started paddling frantically.

Not many people can handle that kind of constant stress. But sometimes it’s a useful catalyst to get you past your biggest risk – stasis – waiting for ‘something to change’ or ‘something to come along’. If your boss doesn’t respond to your request for more challenge, set a date in your head for departure and stick to it. Research shows that once you start earning about €40,000, your salary makes little impact on your happiness. So get ready to jump in above your head. And paddle hard.

If it’s experience you need, get it. Use your network, call the business cold or beg. Even if you’ve been laid off and decide to go travelling, try to find some relevant work experience along the way. More and more clients come in to meet me after they’ve been away travelling and complain that they can’t get a job in their area of choice. The common theme for all of them is that they went away for a year and worked, but worked in a job that didn’t add anything to their CV.

They headed off to Australia for the year saying, ‘I’m not getting a real job.’ But they should.

For a couple of reasons: they won’t have a gap in their CV; a real job will engage their brain; they develop themselves and they will have practical experience they can draw on in the job interview process and in the role when they get back home.

For example, if you came back from your travels looking to work in communications, you’d find it a great deal more beneficial to have had experience in an advertisement agency than in a bar.

If you’re daft enough to want to go into banking, start researching the market. See what banks, if any, are hiring and in which areas they are hiring. Your research should include your network of contacts.

Do they know of any people about to move sideways in their organisation or anyone who has recently left and into whose shoes you could fit to solve a problem for the management? Use the internet, your contacts diary, your cars, to find out if there is anything.

Get your CV up to scratch and make sure everything in it is relevant, illustrative of success and correct. . .even a whiff of a typo means it will get the bin.

If you are called for interview, you’re first of all blessed and secondly in a great position.

They obviously think, that you’re worth a look, so do yourself justice. Prepare yourself. Gather up examples that will show that you have done the job and will do it for them in the future.

Finally, I’m sure you have developed transferable skills in your work life this far: teamwork, communication and the ability to meet deadlines. These can be used in all jobs.