Thinking of making a career change next year, but not sure where to start? Perhaps you know you want to do something more meaningful, but you’re not ready to make the jump quite yet. The stakes are high when you want to change career. Many of us have family and financial responsibilities, and even if you don’t, it can still be very difficult to leave the security of a career you’re settled in to brave the unknown.
So if you’re not quite ready to dive in just yet, but you want to dip your toe in the water of change, here are some small steps you can take next year to move towards a career in the charity sector.
An easy place to begin is to start a notebook or journal and keep track of your day-to-day work life by noting down the tasks you enjoy and the tasks you don’t. When do you feel excited by and absorbed in your work and when do you feel distracted and unfulfilled? What are your values and aspirations and how far does your current career meet these? Where does it fall short? You can also note down your strengths and weaknesses, ideas you have about your new career and any barriers you might face to get there.
The more you map your thought processes, the clearer the way forward will become. And before you know it, you’ll have an action plan down in black and white!
This is important so you’re clued up about what your new role might entail and so you can talk confidently about the sector in an interview. You can start by reading our career guides. Volunteering is also a very useful way of gaining experience (and valuable contacts) in the sector. Plus it looks great on your CV and gives you the feelgood factor of doing something worthwhile.
If you want to get experience of a specific role and can’t find a volunteering opportunity then you could organise some work shadowing. This means you sit with someone doing your chosen job to watch and learn what they do. Although it isn’t possible in every role, there are many charities that would be very open to this—and nothing can really give you a better insight into the reality of a job.
You won’t need to go back into education just to move into the charity sector but now is a great time to plug any gaps in your skills or knowledge. Even just refreshing your existing skills will mean you can approach your new career with extra confidence. Check out our courses section or have a look at organisations like NCVO to find out more about how charities work.
For a more radical career shift, you could also consider consulting a career change coach. Yes, they can be pricey but you spend around 90,000 hours of your life at work, so it can be worth it to make sure you’re 100% happy and comfortable in your chosen career. Or why not check out coachmefree.com for some free coaching?
Wanting to change career can be a very lonely feeling, especially if you now feel like you don’t belong in your current job. It’s also easy to worry what other people might think. Rather than just stick your head in the sand, you’re more likely to take positive action if you have others on your side. Whether that’s confiding in a friend that you want to make a career change, or seeking out people who are in the same position. Wondering how you do that? You could attend a career change workshop or join a network or special interest group for the area you might want to move into.
Use your existing network to find people who already work in the charity sector in the area you’re interested in. Speaking to them is a great way to find out what it’s really like. Ask them what the best and worst points of their jobs are and any tips they have for breaking into the sector. Charities are full of lovely people who will be only too happy to talk to you. Being around different people will give you a different perspective on things, and who knows where those new connections might lead?
Already know which job you’re targeting? Then it’s time to update your CV, refocus your experience and rebrand yourself. Start by identifying your transferable skills and rework your CV to highlight your experience that aligns the closest with your desired role. Also think about your social media presence and who you could follow and connect with to prove you’re invested in your new area. Are there any networking events you could join?
So there you have it. Starting a new career can feel like a very big change and you may not be ready to take the plunge immediately, but there are many small steps you can take to get you on the right path towards change. Which one will you choose first?
And when you are ready, don’t forget to come back and browse new roles. Good luck!