Career Clinic: How to go about making a career change

Job change
By Fiona MacDonald for The CA

12 April 2018

The decisions you make at key points in your working life have major implications for the rest of your career. Professional coach Fiona MacDonald gives her advice for making the right choices.

It is widely recognised that people will be making changes in their working lives with more regularity than ever before. Here is my advice for when you reach that crossroads.

1. Get to know yourself and what you have achieved

It is important that you can confidently articulate your skills and attributes. Think about your technical and non-technical skills, focusing on the ones that will be most relevant to your next role. Once you have identified your skills and attributes, build evidence on how you have executed these to the benefit of the businesses you have worked for. This alone will prove invaluable, for several reasons, throughout your career transition journey.

2. Set SMART career goals

Prior to approaching the job market, it is important to be clear on why you are looking for a new role and have a goal of what you are looking to achieve. This will ensure your activity is focused and targeted, and that when an offer is made to you, you can make an informed decision.

A Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) plan for your career journey can help you define the best course of action.

3. Build a CV focused on skills and achievements

Employers are keen to know the contribution you have made to the success of the businesses for which you have worked. Provide sufficient information to capture their attention, but be mindful to not overload and disengage them.

4. Plan your job-seeking strategy

Employers take many routes when seeking their new talent today. Familiarise yourself with all recruitment routes to market and plan how you intend to maximise the potential of each. Routes to consider are networking, job boards, recruitment companies and speculative applications.

5. Prepare for interviews

Be prepared for the specific interview that you are attending. Competency and behavioural based interviews are very popular, and thorough planning is required to be successful in these. It is also important to consider the questions you would like to ask the interviewer - remember, an interview is a two-way process.

6. Managing a job offer

You have done all the hard work in preparing for and attending the interview, and now you have “the offer”. It’s at this stage that you should reflect on the goal you set yourself to ascertain if the offer aligns to your goal.

7. Resignation

At the point of resignation, be prepared for your line manager to try to convince you to rethink this decision. Again, it is important to be focused on your goal, so always think about why you first chose to look for a new job - does the enhanced offer from your current boss address the issues that first encouraged you to look elsewhere? Generally, counter-offers are counterproductive.

As part of our Professional Development offering, ICAS is devoted to providing members with a wide range of support services for career development.

If you want to enhance your career, develop your skills or give back your profession, there are lots of opportunities and resources available to you.

Find out more


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