The safe and realistic guide to changing your career

by Ian Gostelow

In the global economy changing careers is normal, so routine that a whole industry has evolved around recruitment and career transitions. Skilled workers are in demand, especially with portable transferable skill sets such as interpersonal skills. Anyone with a good work ethic and positive attitude can access the support and training in technical areas to readily develop their place in a new industry if they choose to do so. Regardless of this, the thought of changing your career or even knowing how to start, can be daunting so here are some tips to make it easier.
Skills Alignment
In some industry areas the constant transition of workers (or churn) makes retention of employees a major focus, and a lot of effort goes into identifying candidates who demonstrate a good cultural fit with the organisation and excel in soft skills (communication, negotiation, teamwork and empathy). Workers with this skill set can find companies eager to demonstrate they are a good choice for the candidate, rather than the other way around. So identify your skills (find out how to do this in our article How to identify your transferable skills… and what are transferable skills anyway?) and make sure they are aligned with the career that you are considering.
Workplace Culture 
Often a positive working environment, reflected in employee surveys and company reviews through rankings on sites such as Glassdoor or Seek, is an important employee draw card, and can be an influencing factor on your decision who to work with next. In fact, it may also determine the industry you choose as working conditions can be quite similar for different employers in the same industry. Do your research to ensure that the workplace and industry culture aligns with what you value for your career to avoid future disappointment.
Seize the opportunities available for career change
You’re probably reading this because you’re giving some consideration to a job change, or your returning to the workforce and whatever it was you did way back then just doesn’t seem relevant to your life today. There’s got to be something out there for you – and guess what, in Australia today for anyone willing to have a go, the odds are on your side. Take heart, once you set your mind on your new career path, no one is getting in your way. What’s more there are plenty of resources you can draw upon to help you get where you want to be. In other words, go for it!
What do you really want?
Of course this career change isn’t going to happen by itself. But it is made a little easier by the fact that your career is all about YOU, so what is it that you really want to do?
Actually, maybe not that easy… this can be the hardest part – many people find themselves regularly saying in their life “ I just don’t know what I want – I cant figure out what I want to do?” And if we’re talking about your career, we’re talking about something that is going to take up many years of your life and involve a great deal of personal and professional development. 
Five Year Plan
So a good place to start is by taking a long term view on things –  let’s take that to be five years time. If you go back a couple of generations where most people had a job for life 5 years would barely get you started whereas in today’s online instant society 5 years in a career is almost a lifetime.
Harvard Business Review has a great article on 5 year planning here and in that article it suggests you ask yourself three questions: 
  • What are my values?
  • What are my goals?
  • What am I willing to do to get there?
This type of contemplation can help you set a professional vision for the next five years. (And of course, it doesn’t have to be 5 years, it could be 1 year or 2 or in fact, any length of time that feels realistic for you and your circumstances.) Then when the time is right, you can set your vision into action in various situations: a meeting with your manager, a networking chat, or a job interview etc.

It’s all about you
This is a safe and realistic place to start your journey – we’re talking about YOU, but more importantly now YOU are talking about YOU. Your values, your goals, your motivation. There is a story here and these are stories that people, including employers, are interested to hear.
But remember this is the start of the story – a story you are going to write across your life in the coming years. Don’t focus too much on the specifics of a particular role or a certain position but consider instead what you want to learn on your career journey, and what skills you want to develop. After all you’re not looking to change your career so that everything in your life stays the same – in many ways you’re embarking on an adventure!
How Customised Training can help
At Customised Training, we have a team of trained Course Advisors who are available to help you with information about our range of qualifications and the related careers. You can call them any time for a no obligation discussion on 1300 275 282 or email
If you’re considering a career in community services, we have many blog articles that could assist with your research, such as these:

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