Demystifying Career Change – What To Do When You're On a Crossroads

October 5, 2021
6 mins

Lockdown hit you with thoughts about changing your career? You are not alone – more than 40% of respondents of the Microsoft's Work Trend Index said they are considering leaving their employer this year (would it be a new role or a new career).

If you are reading this article, most probably you are filled with a little bit of sadness – even resentment. If you’re less than pleased with your career path, it can be difficult to look back, questioning your career trajectory and/or education. 

Yes, changing careers will take time (the average employee takes 11 months to consider a career change before making the move), yet it’s definitely doable and no, it’s not too late. Read how to work through limiting beliefs that career changers usually have.

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi.

I Need To Have 100% Clarity

Do you remember adults asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” when you were five years old? That is why you think that you need to know both the new destination and how to get there.   

However, when it comes to changing careers, it’s OK to have only a vague understanding of what you want (or don’t want) and refine your goals and plans as you move forward and gather feedback from the market, your network and your inner tuning fork.

People evolve, grow, and change, they will develop new interests. Not only will you want to explore and move to new places, but you’ll also find new passions to pursue (and discover that old passions weren’t meant to last forever).

New mindset to consider: Exploration brings clarity, not the other way around.

What to try: Are you completely lacking clarity? Sign-up to Wojo and work on clarifying your values and map your energy to find your passions (yes, there can be multiple).

Switching Careers Means I Failed

You may be worried that leaving the career path you’re currently in is the same as ‘quitting’. Or thinking about sunk costs of you getting educated and growing your career during the last years.

Look at the facts: when you chose your major in undergrad (or got your first role), you were a totally different person than you are now. You couldn’t possibly be expected to have the knowledge of your field that you do now, after months or even years of already working in it.

When we pursue the things we’re passionate about, this actually leads to greater success. You’ll be more invested in your career and put more effort into it, leading to a more productive and infinitely happier work life.

New mindset to consider: Switching careers means I’m growing.

What to try: Worried that you need to start from the beginning? Sign-up to Wojo and find your transferable skills to transition to the new role bringing all the awesome tools you’ve learned so far.

I Need Another Degree to Change Careers

At Wojo, we often hear that graduate degrees are required to switch career paths. If you are looking for the role that should be “cleared up” by a certification body of some sorts (health professionals, as example), that might be true.

However, certificate programs can be an easier way in, as these programs make you just as competitive in certain fields as those who have a degree in them. 

Additionally, you might decide to make a career change in two “hops” – maximise your transferable skills’ power to move to the desired industry and maybe even function and then jump into the desired role.

New mindset to consider: Hard skills for your dream role can be gained in a multitude of ways.

What to try: Curious about these magical “two hops”? Join Wojo to assess your current stance and design your strategy.

I’m Too Old and It’s Too Late

Ha! Most half of the people in the US workforce have made at least one dramatic career switch in their time. The average age of these transitions happened around age 39! 

Let us unpack that for you: average means that some people made it earlier, but some of us made it later in the day! Actually, switching careers later in life can be less risky: “A 39-year-old worker is likely in a very different life stage than someone just starting their career and someone who may be ready to retire soon,” (CNBC Make It) – “given that this age group may be in a more secure financial situation than younger workers, they may have more flexibility when it comes to making a major switch.”

There are plenty of stories of people who’ve made jumps later in their careers and found success where they landed. Vera Wang was a figure skater, dancer and journalist before making a name for herself in the fashion world at age 40, while Julia Child worked in media and advertising before writing her first cookbook at 50.

New mindset to consider: The skills and experiences I have prepared me for what’s next.

What to try: Wojo will help you to build a long list of potential options and then explore them through networking (we will show you how!).

There Should Be A Guaranteed Path with A Guaranteed Timeline

While there are some common denominators between pathways for those who want to switch careers, the process is in no way black and white. Everyone who wants to make the transition comes from different backgrounds, has different needs, assets and goals, so every career transition is unique. Don’t look for one fool-proof way of changing careers — focus instead on creating your own path to a new career based on what you find most helpful.

New mindset to consider: Career change journey matters on it’s own.

What to try: Wojo tweaks your personalised plan based on your feedback and progress, so it keeps evolving together with you.

Photo by Windows.

Changing Careers is Either 100% Successful or Not

I’ve spent 12 months of my life building my network, repackaging my skills and interviewing for a Product Management role. I ended up managing a team of data scientists and not only am I still excited about what I’m doing, but this move opened a whole new universe to me (I’ve  found my co-founder when exploring the Product Management path; having both data and neuroscience perspective helped us to envision Wojo).

You can land in a very different place, or a sequence of places. It (most likely) will be an emotional journey with a lot of discomfort along the way. But if you stay open, challenge yourself to learn new things and put yourself out there, you will eventually be able to do something you find fulfilling.

New mindset to consider: Career change journey matters on it’s own.

What to try: Wojo provides you with the exercises that help you to get the most out of your career change journey.

The New Career is For The Rest of My Life

Recent studies suggest that career change is the new norm (having 7 careers is OK, really). So if you have not found yourself contemplating what your next career will be, you are among the minority! While the idea of changing careers frequently may be daunting, think of the freedom it affords you. You can experiment. You can take a job in an industry that's new to you. You can try the public sector, and then the private sector. Big companies, family-owned companies. You can go where your heart desires. 

New mindset to consider: Knowing how to change careers is a super-power.

What to try: Wojo is subscription based, so you can switch it on and off when needed.

I Should Do It Alone

Sharing your journey with other people is the most powerful way to break inertia. Other people can come from many different places: would it be your new network (one of the best ways to learn if your assumptions about your dream role are close to reality), your close circle, acting as a support mechanism, your mentors, providing you the answers. The single fact of knowing that you are not alone deliberately working towards your goal and there are others who face the same challenges – creates new ideas, new connections, and the whole lot of accountability.

New mindset to consider: I’m actively looking for people who can be my guides, fellow travellers, supporters on my journey.

What to try: Wojo provides you with a community of like-minded career changers.

Reading and Reflecting Brings Me Closer to my goal

Nothing happens just in your head. While reading, reflecting, personality tests (we have all of them on the platform, by the way) can give you some new insights and ideas, if you have been stuck and unable to change careers for a while, the answers you seek are either buried too deep or are out there already – most likely both and you haven’t used the power of the market and people to prove your insights and assumptions.

New mindset to consider: Reflect (Observe, Orient) - Decide - Act - Reflect. 

What to try: Wojo has instructions for how to network (so you are less worried), how to work on your CV and how to prepare for the interviews and helps you to balance all parts of the journey.

Celebrations Should Be Pushed To The End

If you are like me, you are conditioned to postpone celebrating your success until you’ve reached the top of your big mountain. However, science says that it’s literally the worst thing you can do: the best way to approach any task is to set up milestones along the way and then celebrate them with all the fullness of your heart. “Progress on our goals makes us feel happier and more satisfied with life,” writes Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl.

Career Change Journey is no different – with all the emotions and darkness that we experience along the way, building a habit of appreciation of all the steps we managed to take increases the probability of us making another one towards our goal.

New mindset to consider: Progress fed by regularly celebrating your progress.

What to try: Wojo provides you with weekly guided check-ins to build a habit of celebrating small wins and move steadily to your goal.

Want To Learn More?

At Wojo, we help people like you to make their jobs great again with personalised program of guided exercises, including reflection, research, networking, CV & interview practice and acing the first 90 days on the job. We support you with weekly guided check-ins and our Head Coach answers the most popular questions every week.

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