Career Planning

How to Explore New Careers While Keeping Your Job

A professional change always involves a challenging and complex plan but if you are in no rush, take your time to “experiment” following my advice.

Is it time to move on from a meaningless job?

Are you looking for a career that will give you a paycheck that matches your expectation AND a sense of fulfillment?

You might get lucky and find your dream job through your existing professional or social network. Or, as it’s more likely, you’ll need to put more thought into your search if you have set higher expectations from your next job.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that only approx. 13% of full-time employees consider their present jobs ‘meaningful’. Can you relate to that statement?

If you do, it’s time to do some deep self-assessment and find your answer to the question “What else could I do as a job”?

As a professional Career Coach, I meet so many people – in real life and online – who get stuck at this specific stage: they have a job, they know they want a change but have no idea about where to start as they have many ideas in their head!

Here’s my advice to start your journey of change by yourself, if you are not ready to fast-track your plans with a personal Coach.

Dream Job road sign

3 steps to identify your next “Dream Job”

Step 1> Map out what you have Vs what you are missing

Be grateful for your present job.

The starting point is always to recognize what you have already. Assuming your present job covers all or most of your ongoing bills and expenses, take a moment each day to appreciate that you are in a privileged position: you can take your time to find a more satisfying activity to do.

Identify what are the key factors that make the difference.

Try doing a simple Pros Vs Cons exercise or write down a more thorough Likes Vs Dislikes Vs Tolerances worksheet. You could also write a list of all the qualities that matter to you (e.g. “A flexible work schedule”) and give a score to your present job against each one of those factors.

Decide what trade-offs you’re willing to make

Once the list is written consider what would be the top 3 must-have factors you couldn’t compromise on in your next job. By exclusion, you’ll be able to outline additional ones that act as ‘nice-to-have’. The latter are the ones that surprisingly make a difference sometimes when it comes to accepting a new job offer or taking a new career direction.

  • Ultimately, you need to define black on white all the things you like and those you would change in your future.

Step 2> Use your spare time to have a taste of new career paths

Identify pockets of time you can use for ‘other activities’

You may be doing the 9-to-5 right now or you may be a freelancer working on flexible schedules driven by client and project deadlines. Whatever your current status, we all have approx. 16 hours per day of awake time and have the ability to choose what activities fit within this time-lag. All you need to do is carefully plan your time and identify what slots you can free up, for which activity and with what frequency.

Volunteer in a field that is close to your heart.

Find an interesting organisation in the not-for-profit sector and approach them with a proposal for how you could get involved in what they do. Focus on a specific project or ask them about their needs. You could pick a group that you already follow or contact local organisations to investigate your options.

Develop your skills by offering your services for free to a mentor.

Identify one person that you know and admire professionally and contact them to propose to shadow them a few hours per week as their mentee. Once you start this collaboration, you’ll soon realize how your service hours are gaining you a range of new skills or developing your soft skills. Consider this an investment in yourself.

  • Acquiring extra-curricular skills is a massively useful especially if you have little previous work experience.

Step 3> Cast a Wide Net to understand what your new future could look like

Do your research.

If you’ve realised that you want to move into a completely different field, ensure that you understand all the requirements at entry point into that sector. Browse relevant websites, forums, blogs and social media groups online and talk with experts. Ask about the income potential and whether you’ll need additional qualifications or certifications.

Undertake further studies and training into your field of interest.

You can build on your existing skills and expand your knowledge into a specialist area of your current job or dip your toes into a new professional area. Depending on the sector, you could advance your education by signing up for distance-learning courses online or choose an organisation that provides intensive learning at week-ends or on one-week in-class formats.

Practice and persevere.

You may need to be patient when you’re trying different things at the same time. It’s possible that you will start a new course or training with heaps of motivation and energy investment and soon realize that it wasn’t what you were expecting after all. If and when that happens, remember that you do have options and you get to choose the next one!

  • Remind yourself that your efforts will pay off if you’re willing to take risks and devote your time to find the right road for you.

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How to get ready to make the transition into your new path

We probably spend about one-third of our life at work. So, being innovative about your career path will help you to make those hours more rewarding. True, you can’t be on “new job pursuit” mode all the time because this would drain your energy quickly and you would end up underperforming even in your present job.

So, what steps can you take to be well prepared to make that change once you find your next chosen path? Here’s a little extra advice.

1. Maximise your network. Build a strong off-line and online network where you can share both practical and moral support. Ask others for help when you need it. Be generous with sharing information and referrals.

2. Increase your visibility. Be active on social media and promote yourself in your professional area(s) of interest as somebody who is an expert or has an opinion on relevant topics. Write articles for your company’s website or publish your own new blog.

3. Get the right mindset. If you want to excel at work, you’ll need to move beyond your comfort zone. Focus on gradual growth you can sustain, and the small victories will add up. For example, deliver a presentation at an important team meeting as a way to prepare for a bigger public speaking event you are due to host.

4. Stay positive. Your professional career may last 30 years or more, so an optimistic attitude will help you to persevere. Look on the bright side of difficult situations and learn how to laugh at yourself.

5. Key takeaway: start planning today your future career. Your journey to your Dream Job can be a long one, so the sooner your start gaining clarity about your Likes, Wants and Needs the smoother you will get to your happy professional state.

Thinking it’s too hard to do all alone? I am here to help!

Chat To Me.

If you are ready to see some changes in your career or business, let’s chat!

3 replies on “How to Explore New Careers While Keeping Your Job”

Really helpful blog post. I found the point about volunteering very true – I volunteered in a few different areas before I figured out what job I wanted. Whilst it can be tough in terms of not getting paid, ultimately the process was massively helpful in my experience and helped me focus on the type of job I did want to get. Well done!

Thank you Celine 🙂 I agree: volunteering and paid or unpaid internships are all useful ways to test your affinity with new fields, and you don’t have to do it long-term. Many organisations are happy to accept volunteers even just for one month. Take care

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