Ready for a career change in 2021? Here’s where to start

Monday, 4 January 2021

As we say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, it’s time once again consider whether a career change might be the best way to start the new year.

The thought of changing careers can be daunting, particularly in today’s world of uncertainty.

Half of Australians want to change careers, but two-thirds don’t know where to start.

The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to break down the barriers and get the ball rolling in 2021.

Ask why you want to change careers

There are lots of different reasons that you might seek a career change. No matter the motivation, there are a few tell-tale signs for when it is the right time for a career change.

Your job is impacting your health and wellbeing

Perhaps it’s the long hours, the toxic work culture, the endless stress, or the physical strain. Whatever it is, a meaningful career should boost your confidence, wellbeing, and self-esteem, not tear it down.

If you feel like your career is impacting your physical and mental health, particularly if it’s to the point where you can no longer enjoy your job, then it’s time to change careers before the impact is long-term.

You’re always bored

We all have days when we don’t feel like getting out of bed and it takes every bit of willpower to drag our bodies to work. However, if you feel like this every day, then you have a problem.

Your work should be something that you’re passionate about. This could mean that it sparks your interest, offers challenges, something exciting to look forward to, or a sense of accomplishment.

If your current career is offering none of the above – you dread going to work every day and feel stuck in a monotonous slog of work – then it’s probably time to choose a new career path.

You’re only there for the money

Not everyone has the privilege to change careers at the drop of the hat. But if you get to a point where you’re working a job that you hate, then it’s worth considering whether the payoff is worth it. If your answer is no, then it’s time to start making your move.

You have lost your job or are no longer able to do it

Everyone has rights and entitlements at work, but sometimes a career change is forced upon you. This could be due to your position being made redundant, your workplace going out of business, or an acquired injury or health condition that prevents you from completing your work, even with reasonable adjustments.

With so many businesses and positions dissolving throughout the turmoil of 2020, a career change might be the right path for you in 2021. When getting back into the swing of work, consider whether you are able and want to return to your current career. This is perhaps the hardest choice to make out of all the above – because it is likely that you still love your career, but it is simply no longer sustainable.

A man is changing careers. On the left he holds a book bag and book. On the right he wears gloves and is in a greenhouse.
Is working outside becoming too physically demanding? Maybe it’s time to hang up the work boots and reskill to a less physical job.

Discover your career options

Choosing a new career can be tough. Often, it’s easier to figure out what careers you don’t want to do, rather than what you do enjoy. Think about what the deal-breakers are with your current career. How could a new career path solve these problems?

After this, consider what your skills, experience, and personal needs are. A career quiz, such as Job Outlook’s, might be able to help you here. It can identify what style of work you might enjoy and match you to some career options.

It’s worth taking a moment to consider whether your current place of employment is the problem, or whether your career path is the problem. For example:

  • Do you love being a barista, but hate the café you work at? It sounds like you need to find a new workplace, rather than a new career path.
  • Do you no longer enjoy working as a barista at all? It sounds like it’s time to pursue a whole new career path. Whether that’s marketing, nursing, childcare, or industrial engineering – it’s time to hang up the milk jug and steamer.
  • Do you no longer enjoy working as a barista, but love your workplace? This one can be a little confusing. Perhaps a barista is no longer the career for you, but maybe there is another role in your workplace that suits you better like bartending, customer service, restaurant management, or a chef.
A person stands in the centre of the frame. One the left they are strumming a guitar. One their right side they are pouring a cup of coffee.
You never know where your next career move might be. Have an open mind when researching career options.

Research your dream job

Got a career path in mind? It’s time to figure out the practicalities of your new career choice. This means doing a deep dive into what your work will involve.

Talking to people in the industry is a great way to gain first-hand insight. Otherwise, career websites, such as Job Outlook, provide detailed summaries of job industries and can answer most of your technical questions.

What you need to know

  • How much will you be paid? Can you live on that salary? Keep in mind that you might be earning an entry-level or junior salary for the first few years.
  • How many hours per week will you work? Is that achievable and sustainable?
  • What training, skills, and experience do you need?
  • What pathways to employment are there?
  • Where can you work? Are there options close-to-home or will you need to move? Is the job at a required location or can you work flexibly?
  • Are there many job opportunities in your industry? How competitive is the job market?
  • What is the work environment like? Consider the physical, mental, and emotional requirements.

Prepare and upskill

Now that you know what skills you need to enter your chosen career, it’s time to start preparing.

First, consider what transferrable skills you have, and make the most of them. Even if you don’t have the papers to prove it, recognition of prior learning (RPL) can help you turn your experience into a formal qualification.

If you need to do additional training or study, be sure to research thoroughly what you can get with each qualification. There’s nothing worse than wasting your time and money on the wrong training.

Volunteering is a great way to gain some work experience and figure out whether this career is something you want to do. Step into different worlds, take wrong-turns, cross off dead-ends, and better understand where your interests lie.

Maybe you trial a job and find out that it’s not for you. That’s okay. Now you have a better idea of what career you really want to do next.

A woman stands in the centre of the frame. On her left side she is holding a camera to her eye. One the right side she wears scientific glasses and a white lab coat.
What transferrable skills and prior training or experience do you have? Could you use your experience in science to become a scientific or nature photographer? Sometimes thinking laterally is where the answer lies.

Connect with a provider that will put your first

The biggest challenge of a career change is doing it alone. That’s where we come in – to guide you along the way. We know that self-reflection and finding work are hard. We’ve got over 30 years practice making it easy.

Here at EPIC, we help people with disability, injury, mental health conditions and other health conditions prepare for, find, and maintain meaningful employment. When you connect with us, our career counselling can help you every step of the way – from discovering and researching career options, to applying for the right training and jobs.

Our services are completely free and personalised to your individual needs. Get in touch with us today if you’re ready to discover a career path for you in 2021.

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