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Career Change Qualifications. The 5 Minute Career Coach November 2009
November 01, 2009

Helping Career Changers Around The World

November 2009


Are you sleepwalking?

Do you find that your days operate on autopilot?

Do you sometimes feel that you are just filling your life with busyness, but you are not really living?

Robert Holden, who runs The Happiness Project, talks about The Daily Unconscious – the strange, hypnotic dance that many of us engage in on a day to day basis. A routine of school runs, commuting to work, checking emails, attending meetings, dealing with clients, running errands...

Does that sound familiar?

Some automation in your life is helpful. For example, you wouldn’t want to have to plan your journey to work each day as if you were doing it for the first time. But it is only too easy to find that the majority of your life is slipping past in that unconscious blur.

Your working life can take up a big chunk of this Daily Unconscious. How awake, alert and engaged do you feel during your working hours? Is your career beginning to feel like you are stuck in Groundhog Day?

If so, maybe the time is right to stop, wake up and take a long and serious look at the work you do.

Try asking yourself this simple question.

What do I appreciate about my current work?

It may be that there is more that is good about your job than you realise. You had just stopped noticing it in the unconscious blur of the day. If that is the case – great! I encourage you to take a few minutes each morning to just stop and acknowledge what is good about the work you will be doing that day, to be consciously grateful for the opportunities it gives you – opportunities to use your skills and strengths, to meet with interesting people, to make a useful contribution to something that matters.

If on the other hand, when you look at it with wide awake eyes, you can find little to value or appreciate in your current job, then maybe this is the wake up call for you? The moment where you decide to stay awake and make a conscious decision to do something about your dissatisfaction, to start a process of review, research and action that will lead you to a more rewarding and fulfilling career.

Or will you just lapse back into the Daily Unconscious?

Your choice.

With very best wishes

What's in this Issue

Quote of the Day

"Take the first step in faith.
You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step"

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

If you are waking up to the need for change, you may feel scared and uncertain about how to move forward. Sometimes you just have to make a start without knowing where it will all end. If you don’t take that leap of faith, you will never know.

Career Change - Are You Qualified?

So you want to change careers, but you are not doing anything about it because you think you are not qualified for anything else.

This is a common stumbling block for career changers, but one that I would like to challenge. In my experience, on closer examination it can often (though not always) be revealed as an excuse, a barrier constructed to help the would-be career changer avoid the undoubted challenges of taking committed action.

If you are convincing yourself that you lack the qualifications you need to make a career change, take some time to really unpack how true that is for you and your situation.

Do you really need qualifications?
You may be considering a career where people are normally educated to degree level, but remember that this is not always a hard and fast rule. If you have a number of years of work experience under your belt you probably have lots of relevant skills and experience that will actually make you a stronger candidate than a 21 year old fresh out of college. And it is certainly the case with typical graduate entry careers that once you are a few years down the line, people are not interested in your degree, it is what you have done on the job that matters.

Specialist training
There are some jobs where a specialist qualification is available and some people go down that route to get started. But that piece of paper is not always essential. So if you want to be a chef, a photographer, a journalist, an actor, a web designer, a youth worker... (I could go on) there are many ways you can get involved and get started without a paper qualification.

And once you start doing what you want to do, even just some of the time on a part-time or voluntary basis, you begin to make connections in that sector and can find your way into a job through side doors rather than through the front door.

Value your transferable skills
One of the key exercises I encourage any career changer to do is to undertake a careful review of all the skills, strengths and experience you have gained over the years you have been working. These are things that you have been doing probably without much thought and so have not given yourself credit for them. But if you just stop and think about whether a 16 or 18 year old could confidently do all the things that you do at work, you will immediately see how much you have learned over the years.

Many of these skills will be applicable in a wide range of jobs, so your challenge is to be positive about promoting them when you are applying for work in a new area, rather than feeling inadequate because you don’t have an official qualification.

If you have not assessed your skills recently, then take a look at the exercises on the How To Change Careers website which will help you identify what you have to offer.

If you do need to get qualified
OK, there are, of course, some areas of work where you really do need a formal qualification. If you wan to be a lawyer or a doctor or an aeronautical engineer you will need to do some more studying.

If doing a degree feels like an impossible challenge, don't just reject it without doing some research. There are many routes into Higher Education for people who have possibly left school with few exams under their belts and mature students generally do well, because they study with much greater commitment that the average 18 year old.

You don’t have to give up your job – there are many part-time options available and if finance is what concerns you, then ask about grants and bursaries, look at any government assistance that may be available for you to retrain. There is more help out there than you think.

Turn your thinking around
So don’t just say to yourself:

'I can’t change career because I am not qualified.'

Ask instead:

'What can I do to get into this career without formal qualifications?' or 'What can I do to make it easier for me to get qualified?'

The Career Change Question

Challenging questions are a key tool in helping to create change.

Each month I offer you a question to think about. Just let the question wander round your mind for a few days, or even weeks and see what answers unfold for you. The questions are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities for you career and for your life.

This is a 'Who am I?' kind of question. Answer it by just completing the following statement at least 10 times, preferably more.

'I am the kind of person who...'

Now ask yourself firstly, where this identity, these labels you have given yourself came from and secondly whether these labels help or hinder you.

These labels are part of an identity you have built up over many years, influenced by a range of different factors, but they are still just labels.

If you can see that one of them is not helping you to run your life or career as you would like to, why not try changing the label?

Recommended Resources

The Work We Were Born to Do
Nick Williams

I love this book. It really is a career changers bible in that it is a source of inspiration that you can dip in to on a regular basis.

It is not so much a practical 'to do' list to get you from where you are now to your new career, it is rather a book to engage you at a deeper level, to encourage you to look for work that will inspire you and give a you a sense of purpose. It focuses on the key underlying issues that you need to get to grips with if you want to find work that will be really rewarding.

What makes his writing all the more credible is that Nick has made the kind of career change you may be dreaming of. He was a computer salesman, but realised it was a job without any heart and so took the plunge, determined to discover the work he was born to do. Now he is doing a mixture of different things all of which contribute to helping others to find their way to work that will inspire them rather than frustrate and limit them.

In the book, Nick uses a framework of twelve principles to help you to explore:

  1. What you really love to do, what inspires you
  2. What is stopping you – how your conditioning limits what you see as possible
  3. How you can develop a positive attitude towards life and work
  4. How you can bring heart into your work
  5. The ways you can manage the difficult relationship you may have with money
  6. What your true purpose is in life and how you can do work that aligns with this
  7. How you can stop competing with others, comparing yourself to them and seeking approval
  8. Ways that doing the work you were born to do helps you make a meaningful contribution
  9. How you can find positive ways to manage change in your life
  10. What you can do to tap into your creativity
  11. How you can get more if you give more
  12. How you can experience the true meaning of success

It is a big read, but one that is well worth the effort if you are looking for something that will inspire you at a deeper level rather than just give you a step by step guide.

More recommendations
If you would like to see more recommendations for books and similar resources, follow the link to the Career Change Books page of the How To Change Careers website. Do keep popping back to it as I am adding to it all the time.

And if there are books and resources that have inspired you and that you would like to recommend, there is a place for you to do so on that page.

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