New research by Oxford Open Learning Trust recently revealed that nearly a fifth of women aged 18-24 years old felt that they had chosen their career path too young.
They cited the education and training they received had not prepared them for their current career with some women even saying that they received no careers advice upon leaving school. This could shed some light as to why millennials are considering and pursuing career changes as early as their mid-twenties.
This isn’t to say that this is a bad thing. In fact, the more millennials considering a career change earlier on in their professional life could suggest a shift in the way the working landscape is changing. Rather than abiding by the expectations the working world has of incoming candidates, people are now living and working on their own terms and redefining that power shift. Some are even taking it upon themselves to enrol in workshops and career-focused classes to understand themselves better.
So, why do people want a career change in the first place?
According to Head coach from Careershifters, Natasha Stanley, it comes down to people being unhappy with their work situation.
‘What we see, over and over again, is a misalignment between who people are and how they’re spending their time. A huge proportion of our community say they ‘fell into’ their career without much thought or certainty, and haven’t been able to shake the feeling that they’re in the wrong place ever since.
‘Their skills aren’t being used fully, they’re not aligned with the values of the industry or field they’re working in, and they don’t feel that what they’re doing has a purpose that really speaks to them. That not because there’s anything wrong with the industry or employer necessarily – it’s just not a good fit. Living like that, day after day, is exhausting,’ she explained.
The idea of retraining and upskilling has become popular of late and helps to support your decision to change your career. Whether that’s learning a new language, refreshing your knowledge on software like photoshop, short courses are ideal as they slot in to busy lives.
With this in mind, it’s also clear that it’s not just millennials that are notorious for changing careers. Stanley describes the overall demographic that are likely to consider overhauling their professional lives.
‘These people have been in their careers long enough to be sure it’s not for them. They’ve achieved relative success, and recognised that even that isn’t enough to make the work feel fulfilling.
‘They’ve been dealing with the emotional and psychological toll of being in the wrong place for a number of years. Changing career is a major move, so most people take a while to figure out first that they want to make a shift, and then to gather the courage and know-how to do it. And once people get closer to retirement, they’re less likely to believe that a shift into something more fulfilling is possible, ‘she said.
How to explain a career change
Even though millennials are rewriting the rules when it comes to the workplace, according to an Elite Daily article, employers still hold that decision-making power and are likely to ask you to explain your choice to change careers.
Speaking to our very own Head of People, Pauline Vallance, the main thing to bear in mind was that employers were more than aware that career changes are common and simply want honesty. Having seen her own daughter go from a career in events management to mental health, she is encouraging of career changes and understands what’s important to stand out among other candidates.
‘Honesty is always the best policy I feel. I think it’s important to ensure that you understand and know the reason entirely why you want to make this change and be ready to be quizzed on this. Think about what skills you have that are transferable and remember that employers aren’t just buying your skills, they’re buying you, so show enthusiasm, knowledge and passion for the sector you’re interviewing for,’ she explained.
Why career development is important
Career development isn’t just the responsibility of your employer, it’s something that you as an individual should be invested in evolving for your own future. A 2015 LinkedIn article notes that thinking about your own career development prevents you getting stuck in a rut. Understanding where you want to steer your career will make you more proactive to take on responsibilities and training that is essential to your progression.
From an employer’s perspective, it’s important to take an interest in your staff’s future. Showing them that you see potential in them and encouraging them to think about outside-the-box development that isn’t just directly related to the job they do.
According to Victor Lipman at Forbes, ‘Development planning should be something a manager takes a real personal interest in - not an HR-driven mandate.’
If you’re thinking about a career change and need to fill a few gaps in your application or knowledge, why not search for a course and get yourself in the best professional shape?
Safeera is Editor of Hotcourses and a journalist from Kingston University. Always the inquisitive, her writing spans across a number of areas such as sustainability, fashion, lifestyle and now education. Her belief that you never stop learning and passionate nature has taken her to New York City as part of her degree and across the airwaves on national radio talking about the issues that matter to her.