Take a self-assessment
Taking the leap into a new industry takes confidence and commitment. If you’re not sure where you want to go next, but you know your current job isn’t for you, get a pen and paper and start listing the skills you already have – and what you would love to make money doing. “Insight into your personality type, values, strengths and work preferences can help you gain more clarity and direction,” says Suzie Plush, a psychologist and career expert. “Ask yourself what tasks and responsibilities have you enjoyed in the past? What are your strengths? What do people say you are good at? What are you passionate about?” A career counsellor can also help you navigate a change in industries.
Start researching now
There’s plenty you can do to learn about the job you want to do, starting right now. Read books and listen to business podcasts from your chosen industry. Follow people on social media who are already doing the job you want to do. “Reach out to friends, past colleagues, acquaintances and anyone else in your network and let them know you are considering a career change. It’s amazing how many opportunities can open up by speaking to people you know. Seek out people who can assist you in making the change,” advises Suzie.
If you are seeking a complete career change, it’s likely you will need to retrain. Depending on the role and industry it may require a short course or undergraduate study or, in some cases, a postgraduate degree. At Open Universities Australia (OUA), there are hundreds of degrees and more than 1500 subjects offered by Australian universities. They’re all available online, which means you can keep working to earn money while you study. Also, when you enrol through OUA, there are no entry requirements for most undergraduate subjects, so university study is possible for everyone – and you can get started in a few simple steps.
‘Try before you buy’
Want to sound out a new career before taking the jump? “Short courses are great, as is volunteering and connecting with people who are doing the job you want to do and asking lots of questions. Often, it’s about getting more information, building your network and getting some practical skills and exposure in a new area,” says Suzie. Open Universities Australia offers the choice of studying single subjects, which is a great way to test the waters in a new area before committing to a full degree.
Seek out mentors
The best way to build small business skills is to work, intern or volunteer your time in a business similar to the one you want to start, says Suzie. Consider working one day a week or a few days a month with someone in your new industry and ask them if they will be your mentor in helping you transition – most people are flattered to be asked.
Make an action plan
Write a six- or 12-month action plan of where you want to be in your new career and what steps you will tick off to get there. Suzie says “Confidence comes when you take action. Stepping out of your comfort zone often creates feelings of fear and anxiety. If you wait to feel confident you may be waiting a long time. Taking small action steps will help you build momentum and career confidence.”