There’s nothing worse than the sense that you’ve made the wrong choice in life, and it’s easy to feel as if you’re trapped in a job or stuck in a trajectory that is taking you further away from your dream profession. However, it is absolutely possible to make a big change. Whether you’re still in education or right in the middle of your working life, there’s no bad time to reconsider your career. In this article, we look at how you can pull off a complete shift and find success in the career you’ve always wished you could pursue.
1. Start Reading Up
Just because you aren’t currently paid to do what you love, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it in your spare time. Stay curious about everything to do with your dream job. Subscribe to newsletters and publications, read books, attend events and lectures and watch television programs on the subject. The more you read and study around the subject, the more of a thorough and wide-reaching understanding you’ll develop. Additionally, the more events you attend, the more you’ll be recognized by other regulars as someone to watch. When you eventually make the change, this will help you to become recognized as an outstanding worker, or even an industry expert.
2. Look into Courses
You can attend most further or higher education courses at any age. If you didn’t attend college the first time around – never fear. You may need to re-take some of your high school qualifications to ensure they are still valid and that you have the correct grades, but with the right amount of studying, this is very much achievable. Take the time to research all the top college and university courses that are relevant to your dream profession.
The key elements for which you should keep an eye out are industry connections, reputation and a good balance of practical and theoretical study. You should also think about the time you’ll be able to give to your course. If you have some savings, you could possibly take time out of work entirely to pursue your studies. Alternatively, you could ask to reduce your hours to part-time if your employers are willing to make the change. Otherwise, there are many part-time or evening courses available for those who need to work while they study.
3. Consider Funding
Finance is one of the chief reasons why some people are cautious about going back to university or college to re-train. You might consider opening a savings account to put money aside to pay for your course or, you could simply take out a student loan from a private lender. Loans are available for any type of course, including undergraduate and postgraduate options, and you can research a guide from Earnest on the types of student loans available to borrowers.
4. Make Connections
Without the correct experience or qualifications, it can be very difficult to get your foot in the door of a totally new industry. For example, many job descriptions and specifications require a certain number of years in the field, something that can be very off-putting for the recently qualified. However, if you’ve studied hard and gained significant knowledge, it may be possible to network your way into a position. Continue to attend events and try to make connections with industry professionals. The more of these contacts you make, the more likely it is that you’ll gain the trust of a high-flying employer or executive – who may then end up offering you a position in their company without you having to go through the traditional application routes. If you take a course, it’s a great idea to forge friendships with other students – and even the tutors and lecturers. They may be able to point you in the right direction, introduce you to potential employers or even agree to go into business with you personally further down the line.
5. Consider Self-Employment
If you’re finding it difficult to achieve employment in your new industry, why not work for yourself? As long as you are able to gather the knowledge, contacts and resources required, you may be able to spend a few years working as a sole trader. The experience you’ll gain, as well as the demonstrable time-management and organizational skills you’ll have gleaned, will make it more likely that you’ll get picked up by your dream company further down the line, that is, if you haven’t fallen in love with being your own boss in the interim.
6. Seek Advice
Is there someone you really look up to in your dream field? Perhaps they have some words of advice for you. Consider contacting them to ask for guidance, after all, the worst thing they can do is simply say no. It’s also a great idea to ask around your friends, family or social media contacts if they know anyone who might help. It’s handy to find out whether you have a distant connection with a specialist in your chosen industry who may be willing to help you. Not only will their words of advice be extremely valuable in the future, but you may find that they become yet another valuable contact in your career.
7. Make Sure You’re Known
There’s no use in being a shrinking violet when you’re trying to forge an entirely new professional identity. Try to make yourself as recognizable as possible in connection with your specialism. Why not get business cards printed declaring you as a professional in your new industry? You should also change your social media profiles, and particularly your LinkedIn, to reflect your new life. If you’re thinking about becoming a sole trader, you might consider creating your own website and undertaking simple Search Engine Optimization to help you appear further up the search results.
8. Maintain a Strong Support Network
Remaining active, open, sociable and curious while gaining experience and qualifications wherever possible will stand you in the best stead for success in your new career, but nothing will give you the stamina to keep going like the support and encouragement of loved ones. Keep your friends and family in the loop about your journey. They’ll be eager to help you wherever they can.