Managing Career Change

Whether you’ve been made redundant, or decided to leave your job of your own accord, managing a major change in your career can be challenging.  

There are so many different decisions to make and so many different emotions to deal with it can be hard to adjust. But although change can be unsettling, it can also present exciting opportunities – as long as we’re open to them. 

Hold on tight! 

There are a number of reasons why you might be facing a career change – you may have been laid off, or you might feel unhappy in your current role, or perhaps you simply want to do something new. But whatever the reason, you could find yourself overwhelmed by the rollercoaster of emotions you experience, which could then act as a barrier to moving on. 

 If you’ve lost your job, or you’re so miserable at work you believe you’ve no choice but to leave, you may be experiencing a sense of shock and denial – feelings of ‘Is this really happening?’ You might also find yourself burying your head in the sand, just hoping it will all go away. Shock and denial might then turn to anger, or feelings of grief at leaving behind friends, colleagues and the comfort and familiarity of what you know. 

It’s important to stress that these feelings are perfectly normal. To help you to process them, I suggest writing down what’s happened and what action you can take to move forward. It’s also a good idea to find a way to express your emotions safely, for example by talking to someone you respect and trust. This will help you to gain perspective and start to see change as an opportunity rather than a setback.  

“What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.” 

Jean-Paul Sartre  

If you’ve decided to change your job because you’re looking for a new challenge, this probably feels very exciting. But you may also be experiencing anxiety and second thoughts about whether you’re making the right decision and whether you’re next move will be the best one for you. 

Whichever situation it is that you find yourself in, the first thing to do before looking for a new job, is to consider all your options.  

Keep an open mind 

Many people who find themselves suddenly out of work, or desperate to leave their current role, make the mistake of hurriedly looking for jobs similar to those they were doing before, even if they hated every minute of it and couldn’t wait for each working day to end. This is understandable. We all have bills to pay, so we stick to what we know. But it is possible to find something different that you’re good at and that you like doing. 

In the past, work wasn’t something you were usually expected to enjoy – it was a necessity. And the idea of a job for life was the norm. But things have changed. Thanks to rapid developments in technology, and continuous innovations in business, the job landscape is constantly evolving, generating new and exciting opportunities.   

So put aside anxiety and financial worries for a moment and ask yourself one simple question: ‘Did you enjoy your recent position, or do you like what you currently do?’ 

If the answer’s a resounding ‘no’, then this is the perfect time to explore what it is that you really want to do instead.  

Understand what it is you want, and what you have to offer 

When assessing your options, think of the skills you’ve learned in your career, and determine which ones you can transfer to an alternative career, one you’ll like doing.  

Consider also the skills you enjoy using in all aspects of your everyday life, for example creating, connecting, building relationships or organising. And when you update your CV, ensure you include and highlight these skills. 

As you go through this process, it’s also worth reflecting on what’s really important to you in your work life. Is it a good work-life balance, flexible hours, recognition, new challenges, great perks, or something else? 

 I recommend you write down these thoughts and create a checklist of all the things you really want from your career before you start applying for new roles. 

Look at the bigger picture  

Once you’ve decided what you’d like to do, take a step back.  

  • Is the move you want to make going to get you where you want to be?  

  • Is it in an industry that’s growing?  

  • Is what you’re going to be doing meaningful for you?  

  • Does it fit in with your lifestyle? 

Having these conversations with yourself, as well as creating your checklist, will help you to effectively evaluate all your options, and guide you to making the right decision. 

Don’t fear change – embrace it! 

Change can be scary, but it can also be an incredible opportunity to re-evaluate what it is you really want from your career. It all depends on how you respond to it.  

If you start to believe that it is possible to find a new job that ticks all the right boxes, you’ve already taken a big step in the right direction. And hopefully you’ll then feel more confident and better equipped to step out of your comfort zone, and actively seek out new opportunities that could lead to a more satisfying and rewarding career – one that you will enjoy!  

This article was written by Cambridge-based career specialists Career Ambitions, who work alongside individuals to enable them to proactively manage their career.