Q: I am thinking about changing careers – it’s probably a crazy time to consider such a move, but I’m not happy at what I’m doing now (primary school teaching). I enjoy writing, and am a social media addict, and often think about trying to get into marketing or PR. But I wouldn’t know where to start. My parents are ‘job for life’ people and they keep telling me to hold onto my ‘good staff job’. But I feel like I am going through a living death: there’s only so often you can get a kick out of a young fellow mastering his six times tables. Any advice? (PK, email).
A: Career change is not a crazy idea. We only get one run at this life. If you are of a mind to try something else, my advice is that it a good idea to scratch the itch and see where it leads.
Before getting into the specifics of marketing versus PR versus whatever else might be on your mind, there a number of questions you should ask yourself. The answers to these questions will help you establish if your desire for a career change is real, or just a passing fancy.
By the way, you don’t need to answer a resounding ‘yes’ to each one. Rather you should use them to consider factors that might influence your decision to stay or go. You can answer with a mix of ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘not sure’:
- Am I prepared to go back to college full-time to pursue a new career?
- Am I prepared to go back to college part-time to pursue a new career?
- Am I tied indefinitely to my current location?
- Have I the courage to make a complete change?
- Am I generally optimistic about the future?
- Do financial considerations have a major impact on me as I contemplate career change?
- Am I prepared to start at the bottom of a new ladder?
- Is career success important to me?
- Is my current dissatisfaction related to people or conditions at my existing job?
- Do I know my transferrable skills?
- Have I developed good self-awareness?
Two common phenomena I encounter with clients in the vanguard of career change are the ‘far away hills are green’ and the ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ scenarios.
Far away hills: We can be guilty of the halo effect when looking at other jobs. From the outside, they look so glamorous / rewarding / challenging / easy. We decline to look at the down sides. In romance, it’s known as falling in love with that cute dimple on his/her cheek – only to realise too late you married the whole person.
Out of the frying pan: In our rush to get shut of one job, we land in another equally as frustrating. People rarely make good decisions on the rebound. Not alone do we continue in frustrating jobs, but we may also diminish our capacity to successfully attack the whole career change question in the future.
I hope the above helps you get started. Then you can start looking at possible career options for you. Having a job can take pressure off you during a time of career change – as long as you don’t lean on the crutch too long and miss your moment. Seize the dimple.
Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) have offices in Galway, Dublin, Limerick, and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com/cv.