Why now is the perfect time to make a career switch

A career coach explains exactly how to do it

Laura Hampson
Monday 18 October 2021 16:46 BST

If the past 18 months have given us anything, it’s lots of extra time. From hours saved on not commuting to enforced periods at home due to various lockdowns, we’ve had plenty of moments to consider what’s important to us - and the space to think about what we really want from our careers.

Some of us may have even thought about making a career switch and, as daunting as it could seem, now could be the best time to do it.

Last week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of job vacancies in the UK has hit a 20-year high, with close to 1.2 million vacancies listed between July and September this year.

The retail sector and motor vehicle repair sector saw the largest increase in vacancies, and director of economics statistics at the ONS, Darren Morgan says the number of employees on payroll is now “well exceeding pre-pandemic levels”.

“Vacancies also reached a new one-month record in September, at nearly 1.2 million, with our latest estimates suggesting that all industries have at least as many jobs on offer now as before the onset of Covid-19,” he added.

If you are considering a career switch, career coach and consultant, Hannah Salton says one sure sign you should go for it is if the “bad days are outweighing the good” in your current role.

“Don’t act impulsively,” she adds. “Keep a diary and record your highs and lows at work so you can reflect over time. Even if you’re not 100 per cent sure you want to change, you can investigate and research options while still in your current role.”

Job vacancies are currently at a 20-year high (shironosov/iStock)

Some factors Salton says to consider when making a career switch is to reflect on your strengths, your experience, and what you have learnt from previous roles.

She continues: “Start exploring options as soon as you can. Talk to your friends, ask for intros to their friends, and learn as much as you can about other career paths, roles, and companies. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people, but do so with the intention to learn rather than to ask for a job.”

It’s best not to wait until you hate your current job to make the switch, Salton says, and that most successful career changes come from networking so “don’t be afraid to put yourself out there”.

Your existing skills can be applied successfully in new contexts or industries.

Hannah Salton, career coach and consultant

She says that other ways to look at changing careers could be by taking free online courses, attending in-person and virtual networking events, and talking to friends or former colleagues about which field you’re interested in moving into as they may know someone who knows someone.

If you are considering moving into a completely different sector, Salton says many skills are “transferable”.

“Your existing skills can be applied successfully in new contexts or industries,” she explains. “If you have developed excellent communication, leadership or problem solving skills in your current role, you may be able to apply these skills in a new sector.”

Need more inspiration to go ahead and make that switch? Just look at Vera Wang, who swapped in figure skating to be a fashion designer; Michelle Obama who went from being a lawyer to working in nonprofits; or even to prime minister Boris Johnson, who switched journalism for politics.

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