Ask a professional: Career change

We asked Sarah Robinson, Careers and Employability Consultant, Careers Network, to share her tips on how to identify when the right time is to change your career. This is what she said.

  1. What are the signs that it is time to consider a career change?
    It can be anything from not feeling challenged or stimulated in your current role to feeling restless and volunteering for all kinds of things beyond your remit. A career change requires a big leap of faith; however people usually choose to pursue an existing hobby or interest rather than anything too radical. While there may be an element of risk, it can also be an exciting time.
  2. Do you have to start at the bottom when changing careers?
    If you're not at least prepared to start again, then it could lead to a lot of frustration and closed doors; however it depends on the sector, the role and your previous experience. Your expectations of salary and responsibility will likely have to be modified as you compete with people who have more experience in that industry, so it is important to be flexible. None of this should put you off if you're truly motivated, and make sure you utilise the contacts and links you have already made in your career as they may very well open new doors.
  3. How should you explain your desire to change career in an interview?
    Research and preparation is key. At an interview, be clear about your motivations for wanting a career change. Demonstrate that this is an informed decision you have been planning for a while and talk about any experience or qualifications you have gained in the area, even highlight who or what has inspired you to get to this point. It all shows a potential employer that this is not a whim.
  4. What does an average person's career look like?
    There isn't a right or wrong length of time to be in a job role, or a particular career pathway, as so many factors influence an individual's career choice. These days, graduate CVs are diverse and it is increasingly common to dip your toe in the water of several different areas. There is less emphasis on full-time, long-term careers and a rise in portfolio careers with employees having lots of different strings to their bow.
  5. Where do you begin if you know you need to change but aren't sure what to change to?
    Identify people that will give you insight, inspiration and motivation as it's always helpful to have a good support network with whom to articulate your thoughts and bounce ideas around. You can also speak to professionals such as career coaches and recruitment agencies to talk through your strategies and ideas, but the most important thing is to consider what is missing from your life, your career and/or your current role and identify how you can fill these gaps.

If you would like feature in a future 'Ask a professional' or would like to suggest a topic and some questions for a future edition of the newsletter, please email alumnicommunications@contacts.bham.ac.uk