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Career

An expert's tips on changing careers and finding more meaning from your current job

Career coach and mentor Rachel Hill offers advice for making a big career change.

Changing careers takes a significant commitment of time, energy and money.
Many people think it's going to happen overnight or within a couple of months. The reality is that it's a journey.
A career coach can help someone look at the bigger picture and guide them through the detailed analysis required to get a clearer sense of their strengths and expertise, what they love to do and what they don't.
They provide an independent, non-judgmental place to explore options, thoughts, fears and ideas and will also steer clients towards learning new skills and competencies, enabling them to become more productive and effective employees.
A career coach also helps with more specific tasks such as how to create a job search strategy, preparing effective cover letters and CVs, job interview training, negotiation strategies and overcoming paralysing fears.

How can you experience career growth without changing jobs?

When people love what they do but don't like their job, they face the choice of finding another job in the same field or investing in doing their current job better.
According to research, people become dissatisfied when their job has no meaning or purpose, they have little opportunity to grow and they feel worn out at the end of each day.
Sometimes dissatisfaction stems from a person's own disposition. If they tend to be pessimistic rather than optimistic, chances are that they are the source of the dissatisfaction.
They can counter this by looking for things to be happy about in their current job. Finding meaning in your daily role is something that can make a huge difference.
It is useful to think about how the work you're doing contributes to something bigger than yourself.
Creating connections with colleagues and expressing gratitude to others can also help.
If the dissatisfaction is caused by the job itself, then the next thing to do is evaluate whether you could do your job any better and whether there are any changes you could make that would increase your enjoyment of it.
If you want more responsibility, for instance, engage with those who can make that change happen. Often we hold ourselves back from putting our hand up; yet when we find the courage, everything changes for the better.

The biggest mistakes you can make when considering a career change:

Waiting until you are deeply unhappy:
This puts you at risk of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If you're already feeling really down, first improve your current situation by finding your voice, growing your skills and expertise, nurturing (or repairing) relationships and becoming more confident. Nothing is as attractive as someone who has stepped into their power.
Having no sound financial plan for the transition:
Many people I speak with want to change careers but have no idea how much money they'll need to help them through the transition. Whether you're retraining, building a business or changing to a lesser paid role, unless you have a plan for how to finance this, it just won't happen.
Not understanding exactly what you want:
Analyse your skills/knowledge/expertise and sort out what you love to do and what you never want to do again, who you love to work with, and what sort of business you want to work in or create. Decide what values need to be reflected in your work, what challenges you want to face or avoid, how much you want to earn, and what benefits you want.
Not taking the time to understand where the desire to switch careers stems from:
Is it something you have to do, or is it just a case of the grass being greener? Maybe the change you really need is in your life outside the workplace.
For more advice, see Rachel's career and stress column, Ask Rachel, at rachelhill.co.nz.

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