5 Things to Consider Before Shifting into a New Career

4 minute read

Have recent world events got you thinking that it’s time for a career change? Perhaps your current job no longer motivates you and you’re beginning to get the ‘Monday dread’? Whatever your reason for wanting to make a change, there are a few things that are always worth thinking about before you hand in your resignation. If you take the time to really explore what you want from your next role, you’re much more likely to make your career change a success. Here are five things to consider before shifting into a new career.

1. Figure out your true reasons for wanting to change

Know the exact reason why you want to leave your current role? Brilliant. Keep this front of mind when seeking a new position. Want a job that offers you greater flexibility than your current one? Looking to broaden your experience in a new sector? Be sure to mention these things in your cover letter and reiterate them if you get through to the interview stage.

But if you’re feeling generally unmotivated and miserable, it might be difficult to figure out what exactly you’re looking for in your new job. Many career coaches ask their clients to begin by noting down the top five things that make them happy, not just at work but in life more generally, and then to number them in order of importance (e.g. working with animals, being able to clearly see the impact of what you do, spending time with your family). The next step is to consider what types of job are likely to offer you these—and you can make this pool as narrow or as broad as you like (see the next point).
Happy laughing mother and daughter using laptop

2. Decide how big your career overhaul will be

Are you looking to start an entirely new job, wholly unrelated to your career so far? Or do you want to put your existing skills and experience to use in the charity sector? If it’s the former, it’s important to do extensive research into the role of your dreams, and understand that you’re starting at the beginning. It’s also worth doing some training that will give you a good grounding in the role you’re going for.

If it’s the latter, make a list of all your transferable skills and educate yourself on the differences between the private sector and the charity sector when it comes to your role. There are some jobs, such as finance or marketing, that will be very similar across sectors. Others, such as fundraising, don’t have direct equivalents in the commercial sector. But if you want to become a fundraiser, don’t be put off applying due to your lack of charity experience. Instead, think about the key components that make up the role—relationship building and revenue generation. If you’ve worked in sales or business development, you’ll definitely possess these. Just make sure you’re able to demonstrate them during an interview by giving concrete examples of your achievements.

3. Be realistic about the roles you’re likely to be considered for

If you decide that you’re looking to make the move into the charity sector, and have your eye on a specific position, why not start by taking a look at our career guides? It’s also worth reaching out to your contacts to see if they know somebody who already works in that role. The key here is to be realistic. While there are many charities that will accept, or even actively recruit, career shifters, you may not immediately be considered for the level that you’d like to join at.

For example, if you’re a Senior Business Development Manager with extensive experience in the corporate sector, you won’t necessarily be considered for a Senior Fundraising Manager position. This is because fundraising is very specific to the charity sector, and you lack the relevant knowledge to be able to perform this role at a senior level. You’re much more likely to be considered for a more junior role, and with the right training, be able to progress swiftly upwards.
Career change charity sector

4. Understand that you might need to accept a drop in salary

Even if your role is a like-for-like equivalent and you’re entering the charity sector at the same level as (or above) the position that you previously held, you might need to accept a lower salary. Charities simply can’t compete with the private sector when it comes to pay. This is why it’s worth researching exactly what you’re likely to earn. Why not find out what your CV is worth in the charity sector using our handy tool? Larger charities have bigger budgets and are likely to offer slightly higher salaries than smaller ones, so it’s worth aiming for these if money is an important factor for you.

5. Consider any training that you’re likely to need

Training makes a big difference if you’re looking to make a move from the private sector into a charity. And depending on the role that you’re after, it may be worth attending an online course before you start applying. Why not take a look at our courses, or check out NCVO Knowhow, which offers many tools and resources for those starting out in their charity career. For example, if you’re a finance professional looking to understand the essentials of how charities manage their accounts, this is the right place for you.

Showing that you’ve taken the initiative to upskill yourself for the job of your dreams will definitely stand you in good stead when it comes to progressing past the CV stage. If you’re able to do some volunteering, which would give you added insight into the ins and outs of charity work, all the better.
Find a career with meaning

Do your career research and avoid disappointment

Taking the time to carefully consider each of the above points will definitely help you avoid any disappointment related to salary, job fit and a range of other factors. Also, the more research you do, the more likely you are to find the job of your dreams. And even if it means starting at a more junior level than the one you’re currently at, knowing you’re making a difference and doing something meaningful will make it worth it in the long run!

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Ewa Jozefkowicz

CharityJob's Former Content Manager Ewa Jozefkowicz has a passion for all things digital, particularly when it comes to UX and writing engaging copy. In her spare time she likes to travel and devour huge quantities of books.

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