Why blog posts on career change aren’t that helpful [11 things to do instead]
I’m always a little conflicted when I write a blog post on career change. On the one hand, I want to share exercises and thinking that I have found useful myself. On the other hand, I know that in the past I have been guilty of binging on articles about career change. I would read about people doing inspiring things and get a surge of excitement…. And then not actually do anything about it.
Reading inspirational and motivational articles is definitely very inspiring and motivating. However, in the same way that simply reading up about the latest workouts doesn’t get you a six pack, they won’t move you into work that you love. It’s the doing that makes the difference: going to the gym, or, in the case of careers, getting out of your comfort zone, trying new things, and speaking to people.
How can you test out your ideas in the real world? Here are some ways:
1) Conduct an informational interview. Is there anyone working in a role that you’re interested in that you could invite for a coffee (or zoom chat)? Although warm connections can be helpful (i.e. a friend of a friend), you may be surprised at how willing people are to help, even if you have never met them before.
3) Volunteering. For opportunities in the Bristol area try www.voscur.org/volunteers, www.bristol.gov.uk/people-communities/volunteering-in-bristol and https://candobristol.co.uk/
4) Look for a side project at work. Are there any projects at an interesting tangent to your day job that you might be able to volunteer for?
5) A training course through work. Often employers offer training courses, or may even have a training budget that you can apply to use. Of course, you’ll need to make a convincing argument about how the course will benefit the company, but you may be surprised at what your employer will fund. For example, on the first improv course that I ever did, one of the other attendees had their place paid for by the accountancy firm which they worked for!
6) Start a meetup group or book group around the topic that you’re interested in. You’ll gather a like-minded group of people around you, who will (hopefully!) give you support, and let you feel that what you’re looking to do isn’t so crazy after all. Plus, if you start something, it a) will look good on your CV and b) you'll find out whether you're interested enough to put in the time to run it.
7) Can you take a week’s holiday to do work experience in a company or sector that you’re interested in? (Something that I have done, and was offered a job at the end of it)
8) Put together an offering and advertise your services on a gig website such as fivrr, taskrabbit
9) Taking on an advisory role with an organisation (e.g. a school trustee)
10) Try a new hobby – what hobbies have always intrigued you? If you weren’t bothered what people thought – what would you try?
11) Talk to people outside of your day to day - I have recently discovered the networking website Lunchclub https://lunchclub.com/ . It's free, and its algorithm pairs you for a networking chat with someone whose interests intersect with yours.
What do you notice about the list above? Each item involves doing something – getting out of your comfort zone and trying something different. Go through the list above again, and for each bullet point make some notes of things that you could try. Don’t think too hard about each one (don’t give your inner judging brain time to come up with reasons why not to do each one!). Instead, speed write and go with whatever comes first to mind.
And now…. Get the ball rolling on one of those things. Send an email. Make contact. Just start.