3 Common Career Change Fears (And How to Overcome Them)

4 minute read

According to the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale, a career change is one of the 20 most stressful things that can happen in your life. In fact, your brain biologically perceives changing jobs as a threat to your survival. People don’t tend to stay in one career their whole working life, which is why this is such a universal experience. You reach a point when you start to evaluate your career choices: Do you really want to be in this job forever? Wasn’t this job meant to be temporary before you pursued your real passion?

If you’re thinking like this, chances are you’re ready to leave your unfulfilling job behind and embrace a career that matches your passions and values. But any desire for change brings with it a rush of anxiety and doubt. It’s important to recognise the common fears and learn how to combat them. Below, we’ve laid out how to find the right job and identify and demolish these fears before they take hold.


Step 1: Discover what drives you

Did you know that almost 1/3 of your life is spent at work? The average person devotes approximately 90,000 hours working during their lifetime, which is why the quality of your job is so important. Maybe you’re unhappy with your position and you’re thinking of pursuing a new career; well this is the perfect time to evaluate what you’re passionate about and find a job that matches your values.

There are several reasons why people are drawn to the non-profit sector, but more often than not it’s the ability to make a difference. Working towards a cause can help inspire that drive and passion that your last position may have been lacking. And the more connected you are to the cause at hand, the more attractive you are as a candidate.


Step 2: Face your fears head-on

Work gives us a sense of identity, which is why it can be daunting to make a career change. But instead of letting your job define you, you should find a job that reflects who you already are. Below are three anxiety-ridden questions we often ask ourselves when considering a new career (and how to overcome them).

1. Doesn’t a career change take time?

Maybe you’re working 30–50 hours and week and don’t have time to look for another job. It can take months to find the right fit in another sector and if you’re good at your current job, sometimes it’s easier to just put up with it and continue that career trajectory. But there’s a long-term cost that you need to consider. The less passionate you are about your job, the more dissatisfied you become and the more that unhappiness bleeds into your personal life.

So how can you break into a more passion-driven sector like non-profit? Using strategies like networking or even investing in a career coach can help you get connected to the right people, which decreases the amount of time you spend trying to get your CV noticed by your dream companies. Connecting with other people in your new sector will also give you a more authentic perspective on what your new job may entail.

Networking for career change

2. If I don’t meet the requirements, will they still hire me at my current salary?

Whether you’ve been in your sector for many years or are making a shift near the beginning of your career, salary will always be a sensitive issue. But you may not be aware that a demand for your profession already exists in the non-profit sector, so it’s likely you’ll be able to strive for a similar salary because you’re coming into the role with a wealth of experience.  There’s almost always a need for marketing, web development, finance, legal and operational staff. And even if you have to take a bit of a pay cut, you’ll still be coming into the role with the experience and know-how to excel quickly.

Our advice: don’t let salary be a make-or-break factor in transitioning to a job you’re passionate about. At the end of the day, making slightly less money is far less of an issue when you’re motivated and passionate about the work you do.

3. What if I struggle getting up to speed with my new position?

You can’t be expected to know everything right away. Getting the job is the first step; this is where you prove you have the necessary skills and will add value to the company. Once you’ve done that, the most important aspect of the transition is your willingness to learn. You probably have more transferable skills than you even realise.

Getting to know a new role or company takes time in any instance, but it may take a bit longer when you shift sectors. Don’t let this deter you, it’s normal. Especially if you’re moving from a corporate company to a non-profit. If you have a strong CV and great work experience, you can monopolise on the skills that are loosely based to elements of your new role.


Think you’re ready to make the transition to the non-profit sector? Take a look at what jobs are available today.

Stephanie Dotto

Content & SEO Lead at CharityJob. Lover of fiction, films and food. In a previous life, she was a music and tourism journalist. When she's not writing and editing blog content, she is working on her novel.

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