What did you want to be when you grew up? Almost all of us had childhood dreams of becoming something great - a doctor, an astronaut, maybe even a marine biologist! - but in a recent SEEK survey, 65% of Australians stated that they were working in a different job or career to what they intended when they finished school.
Our research also shows that people today change career directions frequently, and it’s both possible and sustainable to do so with the right personal and professional investments.
Whether you’re about to embark on the beginning of your career or are stationed at a crossroads, you can count on change in the future. To be fully prepared to succeed in your career with change on the cards, consider these tips:
- Upskill with a short course or university qualification. With constant technological and industry advancements, most professionals can’t remain knowledgeable and relevant without further education. 52% of people surveyed have needed to upskill at some point during their career. This becomes more likely the older and more experienced you become, peaking at 81% amongst the 55 to 64 year old age group. “Keep your skills up-to-date and add new skills to your repertoire. There really is no excuse now, as it’s easy to find a course online,” says Kerina Alter, a Melbourne-based career marketing and employment consultant. You can add value to your current role, and diversify your skill set to prepare you for future roles by studying a course that fits into your current lifestyle.
- Gain experience from volunteering in a new industry. “Give yourself the opportunity to try new experiences that bring out different strengths, whether that be through volunteering or taking on different roles or responsibilities,” says Alter. Volunteering or interning can help you learn new skills and gain valuable know-how in a whole new industry, which can be added to your list of credentials. Although often unpaid, a volunteer or internship position can give you insight into a particular workplace or community, helping you gain a better understanding of what you do and don’t like, usually on terms that best suit you. If you discover your life’s calling from volunteer work, your resume will be better positioned to help you land a job in that new field.
- Move laterally within your current workplace. When asked where they think they’ve learnt the most valuable skills, 63% of Australians stated “on the job,” so if you can try your hand at various roles within your company, you’ll learn a lot. Futhermore, if you’re hesitant about moving to a new company, speak to your manager about opportunities in different departments of your organisation, even if it means filling a more junior position to begin with. This kind of foot-in-the-door is invaluable!
- Find yourself a sponsor. “A sponsor is even more than a mentor; someone who will support and barrack for you, even behind closed doors,” says Alter. While a mentor is great for providing guidance and support, a sponsor’s role is to act and deliver by introducing you to new contacts and connecting you to new career opportunities. But don’t forget, a sponsorship is often a two-way relationship, so you’ll both need to make things happen for one another.
So if you’re part of the majority who aren’t living out their childhood dreams, know that there’s always the possibility of fulfilling even greater dreams in the future. Ensure you’re working hard to better yourself and remain relevant, and you’ll always be prepared for the detours you want to take on your journey.
Ensure you're working hard to better yourself and remain relevant, and you'll always be prepared for the detours you want to take on your journey.