Fed up with your job? You can make the leap but take a good look first

Career moves can work as long as you do your homework, say the experts.

Lee Paines always dreamt of earning a living from sport, but he spent more than a decade toiling away at an engineering firm before finally plucking up the courage to quit his job and follow his heart.

The football and martial arts enthusiast devoted his free time to studying for a qualification in sports massage therapy before giving in his notice and turning his passion into a full-time occupation.

"I had a good, stable job and income but wasn't enjoying it any more so decided to go back to college," recalls Lee, 34, from Swindon. "Once I qualified I started the business part time – working in the evenings after work to build up a client base."

He also concentrated on getting his name known in the area by distributing business cards and launching his own website, www.leepaines.co.uk, on which he provides details of his services alongside health and fitness tips.

Since taking the leap into self-employment, Lee has gone from operating a mobile service to working out of a top-class hotel in Swindon and then on to his own self-contained unit where he can train and treat clients.

"Even when you have a client base you're never quite sure when the phone is going to ring, but although things were uncertain for a few months it's been well worthwhile," he adds. "I've even qualified as a personal trainer as well for an added dimension."

Despite the costs involved – he sold his car to help cover the £6,000 for qualifications and the similar amount spent on equipment – Lee has no regrets. "I would tell other people who want a career change to plan their exit strategy and go for it!"

According to Catherine Roan, managing director of the website Careershifters.org (www.careershifters.org), the two most common reasons to begin searching for a new direction are wanting more fulfilment and being made redundant.

"Many people have been doing the same job for a number of years but want to do something that really makes a difference," she explains. "It's either making them completely miserable or just not using any of their skills."

For those that find themselves out of work it's a slightly different situation. These individuals may be more than happy in their current careers but are in an industry that may be shrinking quickly and the chances of getting an alternative position are slim.

"Some people will have a burning ambition of what they want to do with their lives but the majority aren't sure – they just know they want to be doing something different," she adds. "They know they're unhappy and are looking for a solution."

So what can those who find themselves in this situation do about it? What steps do they need to take to get on a more suitable career path – and is there a danger of believing that the grass is going to be greener elsewhere?

Step one: Evaluate your situation

Take a good look at your life and ask yourself a series of searching questions: What is important to you? Do you want to be a corporate high flier, or make more time for hobbies and interests? What will make you happy?

There's little point making a dramatic life switch only to find that you end up having less time to see your family and have simply swapped one job with its assorted office politics and problems for something similar.

Step two: Get inspired

Based on what you want from life, you then need to decide what type of job you want to do. A good starting point is to write down everything you enjoy doing – including pastimes and passions. These may seem totally irrelevant to your career ambitions, but they could be enough to trigger ideas. For example, if you enjoy doing work around the house, then you may want to put those skills to use professionally.

Do your research

There is an important next step before resigning from your job and stepping out in a new direction: research. You need to totally immerse yourself in information about your chosen direction before making the move, insists Roan at Career Shifters.

"Don't just sit at your desk and research online – go out and talk to people," she says. "Find out exactly what their jobs involve on a day-to-day basis and see if it's really something that you will find interesting."

Talking to people is also a great way of making contacts through which you may end up finding job opportunities. Remember: everyone you talk to could be a stepping stone on the way to a new career.

Sort out your finances

You will also need to consider your financial situation – particularly if you are married with children and have a mortgage to pay, points out the financial adviser Andy Merricks of Brighton-based Skerritt Consultants.

"If you're planning a career move then you will need to keep your debts as low as possible," he says. "It would also be good to have three months' worth of salary set aside in case you're not earning for a few weeks, as bills will still need to be paid."

Having such a financial cushion, he adds, can not only help you cover income gaps, it can be put towards paying for retraining. "You also need to take a close look at your outgoings and work out how much you need to survive – and how you will pay your bills if you took a drop in salary, even for a short while," he adds.

Buddy up

Many people are full of ideas of making such a career switch, but most will find it's difficult to do on their own. An increasing number find it useful to have a change buddy – a family member of friend – who will keep them on track.

This is a very good idea, according to Roan at Career Shifters. "A lot of people get really excited about the prospect of changing careers but end up losing momentum if things don't happen as quickly as they expected," she says. "We really encourage people to have a support group around them that will hold them to account and set time limits. They will also help you set yourself milestones and stay focused."

Going it alone

Of course, you could decide to go it alone and set up your own business. If the goal is for the new venture to become your sole source of income, then analysing your market is essential. You need to do proper research – not just carrying out a straw poll of friends and family, who are likely to be biased in your favour. There are plenty of specialists who can provide guidance, but the most effective starting point is the Business Links website (www.businesslink.gov.uk). Here you will find information on subjects such as company structures, tax regulations and insurance.

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, believes operating in an area you personally find of interest is crucial. "I'd recommend they come up with an idea based around something they enjoy – and then try to make their product or service as niche as possible," she says. "In this way you can keep marketing costs low and customer loyalty high."

Case study: 'My injury left me in a bit of a predicament'

The former professional rugby player Andrew Bailey had to search for a new career after a debilitating illness struck him down in his second season and forced him to retire from the game he loved.

The strapping 28-year-old, who lives in St Helens with wife, Jocelyn, and daughter, Martha, two, played for the Super League sides Hull and Castleford, but everything went downhill when he contracted mumps five years ago.

"I had it for two weeks and then suffered post-viral fatigue," he recalls. "It had quite a devastating effect on my physique as I went from being 16 stone down to 14 and a half stone, so I lost all my size and fitness."

When a pre-season medical showed that he was still a long way from regaining peak fitness – despite him having taken time off to recuperate – he took the drastic decision to throw in the towel on his career as a professional sportsman.

"It left me in a bit of a predicament as far as what my next move was going to be," he adds. "Before getting my professional contract I had done two years of a law course at university, but the course structure had changed and I couldn't get back on it."

It was a difficult period. "I sent my CV to numerous law firms but ended up labouring to earn a wage," he says. "I spent five months on sites before deciding my last part of call was to get in contact with my former agent, who was a sports lawyer."

This was the break he needed. As well as getting to work in the profession, he decided to get qualified via the Institute of Legal Executives. He is due to take his final exams this summer, and is thrilled with how everything has worked out.

"It's been an up-and-down ride, but I haven't got any complaints," he says. "Any young players should consider getting their qualifications because it's a short career and if it's cut short – as mine was – they will have something to fall back on."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Financial Accountant-IFRS-Gloucester-£300/day

    £250 - £295 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountant - IFRS - Glouc...

    SharePoint/C# Developer - Aberdeen - Circa £40K + benefits

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + excellent benefits: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited:...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil