In the past – in living memory, even – it was usual for someone to have one career (even one job) for life. Once they had qualified or had enough experience, that was it. For many, that was absolutely fine; it suited them. Times have changed, however, and in the 21st century, it is much more likely that people will try out at least two careers, if not more. If you feel as though it’s time you looked at trying something different and you want to kick start your second career, here are some tips to get you started.
If you’re not sure whether trying something new is what you really want, listen to your instincts. If you dread going into work each day – or even if you know you just don’t enjoy it very much, or if you’re always looking for excuses to get out of the office as soon and as often as you can – then it’s likely you’re in the wrong job. It’s time to move on.
Sometimes this will involve re-training entirely and learning completely new skills. Don’t let this put you off; if you need to know how to get into Stanford law school, for example, then research how you can do it – don’t just assume it’s not for you. You may not have to re-train, of course; you can start looking at the job ads and see what’s out there. It could be that you have more skills than you realize and that you can already apply for something new. You’re at work for a good chunk of your day, and that adds up to a good chunk of your life. It’s important that you enjoy it.
If you’re sure that you want an entirely new career change and not just a new job in the same sector, start by looking at your strengths. What is it you can do exceptionally well? What skills do you have? This can help you pick a path to go down. If you already know what career you want to move into, then you’re halfway there, but otherwise making a list – and being honest about it – of your ultimate strengths will ensure that you don’t make a mistake and that whatever second career you choose is going to be the right one.
Although this is important, it should be noted that if you do make an error and start working in a new career that you then realize isn’t what you want, you can change. You can change as many times as you need to. However, making a good choice means you’ll be happier and more settled. It might even be that starting your own business is the right choice in the end.
No matter what industry you want to go into, if you’ve never worked in it before, it will be helpful to have contacts inside it. This is where networking can help. You might find that jobs come to you, rather than needing to go off and search for them – if you know the right people, and if you can show them you have the right skills for the job in question. Don’t expect a career to drop into your lap if you haven’t put the groundwork in, but if you know your stuff, then why not? It happens on a regular basis. You can attend networking breakfasts or coffee meetings in your local area, join online groups and forums, or connect with people on LinkedIn and other sites that are created specifically for networking.