The Intelligent Way to Make a Career Change

Marnie McGaffin

After properly considering your own circumstances, there’s a huge amount of research to conduct on the profession you’re aspiring to break into. Is your area of interest expanding or contracting?

Not many people know this, but media personality Dave Hughes once worked in an abattoir[1]. Food writer and celebrity chef Stephanie Alexander left a career as a librarian to follow her passion for cooking[2].  

Almost everyone toys with the idea of a career change at some stage, and particularly if you are exposed to high pressure environments as part of your day-to-day. Common reasons for changing careers include not feeling as though your work life is on your terms, feeling unsatisfied with your current career development, or just having a desire to be your own boss.

It’s estimated that half of Australia’s workers are dissatisfied with their careers, with almost a quarter planning a change in the next 12 months[3]. And by the time they retire, most Australians will have had at least three different careers[4].  

Practical matters

Changing careers is a major undertaking, so it’s wise ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Perhaps your employer is the problem rather than your line of work, or maybe a change in your current duties would make you feel engaged again?

You also need to consider your timing. Do you have the responsibility for school-age children or an elderly parent? Do you have a sizeable mortgage?

Family and financial commitments don’t rule out a career change, but these commitments need careful consideration when determining exactly when and how to make the transition.

Making the switch

After properly considering your own circumstances, there’s a huge amount of research to conduct on the profession you’re aspiring to break into. Is your area of interest expanding or contracting? Are there many jobs or business opportunities available? Is there a history of age discrimination, or a large gender wage gap? What are the challenges faced by someone in your ideal role?

Also be conscious that some traditional industries are in terminal decline while others are emerging to take their place. The healthcare, education, construction and technical services industries are projected to provide around half of all new jobs over the next five years[5].

Some career changes may require further study or re-training. A short vocational course is easily managed, but be sure of the benefits available prior to undertaking years of university study.

Much of this research can be completed online, but don’t overlook using LinkedIn to contact people in your profession to invite them out for a coffee. A good meeting may provide important guidance about how you can follow in their footsteps, and you may just get a job offer (or another important introduction) at the end of the chat!

Once you’re ready to start knocking on doors, update your resume, making sure to highlight any transferrable skills. If it’s been a while since your last job interview brush up your skills asking a partner or friend to act as the interviewer.  

Hip pocket realities  

At least in the short term, a career change typically means reduced income as you launch a business, return to study or accept a more junior role in your new field. Our experience is that the costs to change professions are generally underestimated, so the larger the pool of savings you can build up before making the switch, the better. You may also consider working part-time in your old industry while establishing yourself in your new one.  

If you don’t have a cash buffer, you’ll need to adjust the rest of your life accordingly. This could mean reducing your expenses, saying no to the big holidays for a few years, and working more hours to keep the income coming. You may also have to delay other important goals like upgrading the family home or buying an investment property.

Before making the transition, you should consider your superannuation growth while your income reduces (or goes to zero if you’re becoming a business owner). Also think about your insurances – it’s best to review or arrange cover before you make the career change as you may not be able to get the ideal cover after you’ve moved and your income has dropped.

Seek expert advice

If you’re considering a career change, then let’s chat. We can help clarify your current financial situation, plan out how it will be impacted by this big transition, and more importantly find ways to be able to stay on track with your financial goals.

Click here to arrange a quick chat with one of our professional and trusted Financial Planners.

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