4 Crimes All Career Shifters Are Guilty Of & How To Avoid Them

Right now you feel stuck. There’s a part of you that wants to pursue something new, more fulfilling and challenging. Yet, you’re not too sure where to go… or how to get there.  When you get to this stage in your career, when things are too familiar, the role doesn’t quite seem to be fulfilling your calling, and change seems daunting too, it’s easy to simply do nothing.

Especially when you don’t have a plan.

This is just one of many mistakes potential career shifters make – especially when they’re trying to break into the charity sector. But the good news is, it is possible to shift careers and it all starts with you.

With the right perspective, and by following a series of steps, you can discover a more rewarding career and delve into the charity sector. It may not be easy, but it is definitely worthwhile.

We’ve put together a list of the mistakes career shifters often make when trying to shift into the charity sector so that you can avoid falling into the same traps. When you’re done with this article, you’ll have the confidence to tackle your career shift conflict and start searching for a job that suits you in every way.

You want change but, you are your biggest obstacle.

Lately alarm bells have been ringing. You know that something isn’t quite right at work, but the thought of change frightens you enough to momentarily disregard shifting careers. ‘Where would I go?’, ‘What would I do?’, ‘Is it too late?’ are the questions that often trail through your mind after a fifteen minute internal self-debate.

Now, this is a problem. If you’re feeling uninspired or disconnected from the organization that you currently with, it will show. From your body language to the work you produce, if you can feel it, chances are others can see it.

Fear is an idea-crippling, experience crushing, success-stalling inhibitor

Fear of change, losing the security you currently have and often the thought of making such a huge shift alone, can stop you from asking the right questions. Questions that will help you find a sense of direction, like ‘what really matters to me?’, what do I want to feel when I’m at work? And ‘what organisations are in tune with my personal values?’.

What you need to do: Ask for help.

One of the biggest challenges all people face when trying to shift careers is getting comfortable with change. Instead of allowing the dark cloud in your mind to take over, what you need to do as seek advice from those who have already made the plunge. When you start a conversation with others, you have an opportunity to learn from their experience. Discover mistakes that have been made that you can avoid and successes to take note of.

This will help you to create an environment where you feel safe to share your fears. It also presents an opportunity to lift the weight of carrying the conflict alone. Opening up to someone you trust can provide you with a brand new, fresh, perspective that is more positive than your own. There are plenty of others who have experienced what you’re going through and overcome it. So don’t feel that you have to do everything alone.

You’re just trying to figure it out.

The mind is a beautiful servant and a dangerous master. You can spend hours milling over every aspect of your career in your mind and get no-where. So spending countless days and nights sitting down trying to figure out where to go is not the most productive way to spend your time.

Simply because, careers aren’t supposed to be figured out. They’re meant to be discovered.

Immersion allows you to gain clarity. So be sure to turn your thoughts into action.

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What you need to do: Act it out.

Start by making a list of all of the things that spark an interest in you. Your first thought might be to go and read a few books, follow some knowledgeable thought leaders and see if they can sway you into believing that this should be your new path.

Take a more proactive approach.

Look into your own network and find people who have the knowledge and experience in these fields and shadow them. Spend a day or two in their shoes, learning the ins and outs of the role. Better yet, utilize the skills that you currently have by becoming a volunteer.

Doing so gives you a chance to test the waters and discover what it’s really like to work in that particular role. You can step in and out of different environments until you discover the one that is made for you.

Immersion allows you to gain clarity. So be sure to turn your thoughts into action.

You’re chasing a magical job title.

We all get caught up in the search for that ‘job title’ that makes a the role sound exciting. We put our hopes in two or three words that are somehow meant to define our contribution, status and experience.

But, for career shifters, this can be more stifling than it can be helpful. Especially when you can see that your previous employment history, may not match the requirements. Sending off your CV and spending hours writing a cover letter isn’t meaningful unless you feel the role itself is made for you. Not just the job title.

What you need to do: Focus on your values.

Of all places, the charity sector is driven by people who are incredibly passionate about the causes that they serve. In our recent candidate survey, 70% of people who were already in the charity sector stated that the cause the organization supported was the number one factor that influenced their decision to apply for a role.

With that in mind, your happiness at work (and with you career in the long term) will be determined by much more than what you do on a day to day basis. It will be affected by the environment that you’re in, every single day.

So instead of putting the job title at the fore front of your career shift, why not start by making a list of causes that you care about. Look for the organsiations that support them, see if their mission, vision and values sparks a light within you. And then, see if the position that you’ve dreamed of is waiting there.

While the process may seem a little bit unorthodox (and longer) this will give you a sense of direction that many careers are missing. One that is driven by, not just what you do, but who for and more importantly why.

You’re idealizing the charity sector

Many people want to shift into the charity sector for that feel good factor. You want to give back and be the change you want to see in the world (which is amazing). But by idealizing the sector and simply considering it the place for all things ‘good’, it’s easy to forget that even the charity sector experiences a fair share of difficulty. While the outcome may be to help people all over the world, achieving this is far from easy.

What you need to do: Accept that all sectors are challenging.

Aspiring to be a positive change in the world by dedicating your time to the charity sector is an admirable thing to do. While being a driving force behind change may be incredibly satisfying, that doesn’t mean that you won’t face any challenges. As they say, nothing worth having comes easy!

While it may be tempting to romanticize the charity sector as the place for you to go to escape the typical challenges of the private and public sector, just remember that being challenged and experiencing difficulty is universal. It will just be very different to what you currently face.

This should just prepare you to adapt and evolve to what you may experience. With an open (and prepared) mind, you can confidently tackle anything that comes your way.

Last, but certainly not least, remember that all things take time. Career shifting does not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself and celebrate the milestones. Deciding that a career shift is for you, is the first step. Now you can put all of this into action and start your search for a fresh, new and rewarding career in the charity sector.

Have you already started your transition into the charity sector? We’d love to hear more about your experience so share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Jade Phillips

Marketing Manager at CharityJob. A true bookworm and social media geek, you'll find me living in pockets of online communities. Unattended snacks might go missing if left around me...

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