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Employment

These are the four types of career switchers – which are you?

Careers coach Jane Ferre explains how working out what kind of jobseeker you are can help you with your next step.

A government survey recently showed that an incredible 43 per cent of the public want to change careers this year – that is nearly half of us who want a total change. But how many will actually do it?

As a careers coach, I meet people all the time who believe deep down that there’s a better job out there for them, but there is something holding them back – whether that’s time, confidence, or just life and its many responsibilities. 

But I’ve also seen people of all stages of life overcome these concerns to boost their skills or retrain, and unlock their potential as a result.  So if you recognise yourself below in one or more of the ‘career switchers’ who I encounter most, you can rest assured that there are others, just like you, who have done it – and you can too.

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1) ‘The stability seeker’

If you’re a ‘stability seeker’, you may have worked in a role for so long that you are nervous about disrupting the status quo – even if you’re unhappy in your current role. Routines are reassuring. We might not love what we do, but it’s what we know, it’s stable, and it pays the bills. Would re-skilling just be too much upheaval?

I meet so many people who are excited at the prospect of training for a new career or want to get a better job, but feel held back by a range of constraints like juggling caring duties and full time jobs, or not having the spare cash to fund courses. If this rings true for you, you may feel stuck in a rut – but taking the plunge to boost your skills in a job you love will give you a completely new lease of life.

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In fact, it can bring you more stability by boosting your earning potential or giving you more regular working hours, making it easier to plan for the future, so it’s absolutely worth shaking things up.

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You may also be surprised by how re-training can fit around your life without disrupting it. Just like our work patterns have changed over the past two years, so too have your options for learning – including online options you can do from home, or short courses that you can do in just a matter of weeks. There are also hundreds of government-funded options available, so that course you’ve been thinking about might not actually cost you a penny.

2) ‘The never-too-late starter’

People will often tell me that learning in general is a young person’s game and that once you pass a certain age, the idea of starting again at the ‘bottom’, or admitting there are gaps in your skills and knowledge, is a bit embarrassing.

However, this couldn’t be more off the mark. It’s now incredibly common for people to change career paths several times. The days of staying on the same career path – from leaving school through to retirement – are long gone. Work trends are also moving incredibly quickly so there’s really no shame in continually learning and moving with these currents to reach your potential.

And far from thinking less of you for wanting to learn, employers will welcome opportunities to continuously develop the skills of their workforce or help you move into a more satisfying role in the company – in fact, this is essential for their success.

Everything you’ve learned in your current career is absolutely still valuable, even if you want to move into a completely new industry. Adding new skills or qualifications on top of your existing experience can only add to what you’ve got to offer to employers – so never feel shy about going for it.  You have years, potentially decades, of working life ahead of you, so it’s never too late to go for the job you want and that will make you happy.

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3) ‘The nervous learner’

For so many people, it’s nerves holding them back from taking the plunge. If you’re what I call a ‘nervous learner’, you may feel positive about the idea of training, but are anxious about what it entails, lack self belief, or find the idea just a bit overwhelming. This makes considering going back to learning as an adult a huge psychological leap and even the idea of taking on a new challenge may seem like a pipe-dream rather than a genuinely achievable goal.

Again, I think this is something we’ve all experienced in our lives. Where on earth do you start? What skills might be for you? Who do you speak to? What if you change your mind? There’s a lot of uncertainty when you begin to re-think your career or job – and that is OK. In fact, it’s a powerful position to be in, with a blank slate in front of you and countless opportunities.

The key is to be brave, believe you can do it, and take that first step – and to know that there’s a ton of support out there for you. I recommend the government’s Skills for Life website as a great way to get started, where you can find out about lots of different opportunities and access free, personalised career support.

4) ‘The keen and confident’

Finally there are those who are already keen, confident and raring to go! Like many people during the pandemic, you might have had a change in circumstances that’s prompted you to re-think your job or career. You might feel dissatisfied with your current job, or already have a clear idea of a different job you would like to do, and you’re ready to take the leap. Or you may be looking to take your career to the next level within your current organisation, whether that’s going for a promotion or taking on more responsibility.

If either of these are you, you might already be proactively seeking opportunities and keen to boost your skills, ready for the new challenge. So my advice is to look in the right places, be clear on your motivations, and channel all that amazing energy into the right path for you.

Whatever type of career switcher you might be, and whatever your dream role, there is so much support out there to help you unlock your potential. If you are tempted to make a change this year, with hundreds of free, flexible opportunities, Skills for Life brings these all together in one place so you can find the right option for you including short courses, sector-specific qualifications, on-the-job training.

You can also get personalised careers advice from the National Careers Service too, whose professional advisers can help you figure out what motivates you, how to overcome your concerns and find the right opportunity for you. 

Jane Ferre is a careers coach and former head of talent at British Airways and Leon

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