Looking for a new career? Don’t worry you are not alone.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics report Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia, February 2018 more than one million Australians change jobs every year and more than half of these move to a whole new industry or career.
The reasons for this are many, but commonly, it’s due to one of the ‘Five R’s’:
- Redundancy or retrenchment – you’ve been told your position no longer exists.
- Remuneration – you might be seeking a better salary deal or improved benefits.
- Relocation – you have moved suburbs or cities, or even to another country.
- Return to work – perhaps you’ve been a full-time carer of an elderly parent, or a stay-at-home parent and the kids are now off to school.
- Risky business – you are simply ready to take a leap and try something new.
A search for a new job or a new career shouldn’t be limited to finding just another job, “something that pays the bills.” This could be a great opportunity to find a role that aligns with your newly-defined life – a perfect time to take stock of your goals and your personal needs.
However, with so many people in the job-market, you must find ways to make you stand out from the crowd, and you need to start by doing your research. Review advertisements and position descriptions, and talk to employers, to discover what they are looking for and what skills are needed for the jobs that interest you. Find out what are the current trends in employment and industry in Australia? What will be the top industries for jobs growth over the next five years?
Once you’ve explored the options, and you’ve found the new career of your dreams – what next?
“Sell yourself! Sell yourself!” you hear, but this can be hard to do if you feel that your past work experience is lacking somehow, or even irrelevant, to potential new opportunities. A barrier to change can be that you feel that you may not have as much to offer as someone who is already employed in the industry.
For this reason, it is important to focus on your transferable skills – the skills, abilities and knowledge you have acquired and demonstrated through your work, home life and other activities that might be applicable to a range of jobs or industries. These employability skills form a suite of capabilities that you can use to market yourself to potential employers.
Next, make a list of all your marketable skills and strengths, not just the ones you’ve used in paid work. When you change careers, the focus should always be on your skills, rather than where you developed them, and, you might need to start changing the way you talk about yourself so that employers can recognise your potential.
Many job advertisements contain specific keywords and statements – try matching your own transferable skills to those listed in an ad. For example, if you have been a volunteer in an organisation, provide examples to show how this can satisfy a variety of selection criteria – experience of working within a team, effectively communicate with clients and stakeholders, the ability to plan and prioritise work tasks, and perhaps even some industry-related technical skills (data entry, for instance). Similarly, if you are looking to move from a position as a furniture salesperson to a new career in real estate, focus on your customer service, communication, sales and marketing skills instead of the specific products you have sold. Most stay-at-home parents seeking re-entry to the paid workforce will have a multitude of marketable skills including organising schedules, managing household budgets, cash handling at school canteen, fundraising, secretary of community organisation, sports coaching… the list goes on.
In the event of any change in direction in your career, it is very important to consider all aspects of your life – paid employment, home-based businesses, work experience, study, hobbies, sports coaching, care duties, charity work, community awards, and travel. The challenge will be to find a way to present the relevant skills and experience in a way that makes them applicable to the position you are applying for. And who knows? An employer could be looking for someone with fresh ideas and new viewpoints – you might just be the one.