Spring clean your career choices

After what seems like an endless winter, spring is hopefully with us and some people may be thinking that it’s time for a change of career.

Joanne McKinney, Careers Manager for Coleraine, Limavady and Ballymoney in the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service, offers some useful tips for those thinking about a change of direction in their working life, those trying to decide on a career for the first time and those facing unemployment or redundancy.

”Maybe you find you don’t enjoy work as much as you used to and wonder if you are on the right path. Perhaps you’ve gone as far as you can in your current career and feel the need for further challenges and development. It could be that you’re just fed up, asking yourself, “do I like where my job and my company are headed?” ; or wondering if you’re even in the right career.

”For others it could be that they’ve been made redundant and are unsure of what to do next and what help is available or it could even be that you’ve been unemployed for a while, feel stuck in a rut and need help with your job search. In all these cases, the Careers Service is ready, willing and available to help.

“The most important thing is to think carefully – don’t leap before you look! Especially if considering changing career, take it slowly and make sure that you really want to change careers as the grass always appears greener on the other side – but may not be. Look at the ideas below and see how you can take steps towards your personal career success.”

Assess your likes and dislikes

Consider what you really like doing when you’re at work, when you’re at home or in your spare time. A job you really like is the most important thing, keeping you motivated and satisfied. Employers know this too – a happy worker is a productive worker, so they prefer staff who are passionate about their chosen field.

Research and explore careers and options available to you

Spend some time researching the types of careers that you think you would like. Information is available from a whole variety of sources. Check out www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers or call into your nearest Careers Resource Centre or Jobs and Benefits Office to speak to a Careers Adviser. You can also contact us by phone on 0300 200 7820. People you know may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry. You could contact professional organisations relating to the jobs that you are interested in for detailed information.

Consider what you can offer an employer

Have you got any transferable skills? There are many skills such as communication, leadership and planning that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do.

Education and training

Is it necessary to update your skills and broaden your knowledge? Whether you take a course or just read a book, you’ll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating and beneficial routes to take. Challenge your mind, break out of current routines, move out of your comfort zone and watch your horizons expand. From free essential skills training to part and full-time course, we can offer advice.

Think about gaining relevant experience

Would you consider taking a part-time job, working weekends/nights, or volunteering in your preferred career field? This could give you much needed experience and help you confirm that this is really the career you want.

Look at your job hunting skills

If it’s been a while since you’ve had to look for a job, now is the time for a refresher on how best to do it – have a look at our job hunting section on www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers or call into your nearest Careers Resource Centre or Jobs and Benefits Office to speak to a Careers Adviser.

Be flexible.

Be prepared to be flexible about nearly everything, from your employment status to relocation and salary. Set positive goals for yourself, but expect setbacks and change.

Could you remain with the same employer?

Some people change careers, but never change employers. Many employers offer opportunities to specialise in various areas of work. However, it’s more than likely that you will need to switch employers to change fields.

Could self-employment be right for you?

For some people, working for themselves may be an option to consider. The Careers Service can point you in the right directions to find out more and help explore if this would be suitable for you.

Finally, remember that career change is a natural life progression. Most studies show that the average job-seeker will change careers, not jobs, several times over the course of his or her lifetime.

The Careers Service is there to help you make informed, appropriate and achievable career choices and offers free and impartial careers information, advice and guidance. Our Careers Advisers are ready to explore the options available to you and to support you in your career decision making. Go to www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers to locate your nearest Careers Office or phone 0300 200 7820.