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The world of career changers

By Shola Adenekan

It's not just unhealthy lifestyle or boring partners
that many of us want to give up. About a quarter of
the British working population are thinking about
changing career.

An unsatisfactory balance between work and play
and a salary increase were the reasons cited by
many for wanting to change their job field, according
to YouGov, a British pollster.

Welcome to the world of career changers. In a
fast-paced economy like ours, where change is the
only certainty, many have found it pays to plan for
an alternate career in case they get bored or their
real job evaporates.

Ronke is a freelance journalist who has ridden the
boom and bust cycles of the media industry and now
works as a credit controller for a financial company in

"I decided to have an alternate career purely for
financial reasons," she says.

"I had been freelancing for over a year and wanted
to save up for a deposit so I could buy my own
place. It simply wasn't going to happen on a
freelance salary, so after a lucrative publishing deal
fell through, I was offered a post in finance which I

And Ruth, an Edinburgh-based ex-nurse turned
anthropologist, turned social researcher, says the
main reason she changed career was out of interest
rather than ambition.

"The main reasons I decided to go for a career
change were that I realised that I was very
interested in the way research could be used to
answer questions. I had potential to be good at this
work and to experience an environment very
different to nursing."

Many people see changing career as the solution to
feeling stressed, tired, under-rewarded, over-looked
or simply no longer finding their work challenging
and interesting.

But before jumping ship experts warn that it is
important to consider whether the change you are
planning will deal with the root issues or whether
you will just be taking your problems elsewhere.

For instance, teaching might look ideal because of
the long school holidays and short school hours but
the reality may be lower pay and much greater
levels of stress.

And stories of plumbers earning up to £60,000 is
often in the news but this is very specific to the
South East, where there is a particular shortage.

Blaire Palmer, an executive coach with Optimum
Executive Coaching Limited, says you should know
what you are really interested in, what you really
enjoy, the environment you will like to work in and
the kind of people you want to work with.

It may be necessary for you to keep hold of your
current job while you retrain for a new career, she
says. Your current employer, she warns, will be
looking closely to see if you are slacking off.

To get your career change going, start networking,
says Dan Ferrandino of Reed Graduates.

"Talking to people already working in your chosen
career will help you find out invaluable information
about typical entry routes, career paths and the day
to day reality," he says. "You never know, you may
also strike lucky and be offered a job."

But career advisers say a change of direction will not
necessarily bring about a better work-life balance,
because the employee takes his bad habits with him.

The good news is that many employers do not
necessarily see career changers as flip-floppers who
lack commitment.

Kate Calcutt, a recruitment manager for Baker and
McKenzie, a prominent law firm, says they deal with
each applicant on an individual basis.

"People have different reasons for wanting to
change career but if they can show that they have
thought through the reasons for their change, and
explain how they can bring transferable skills, then
they will go some of the way of selling themselves,"
she says.


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