Changing career after being made redundant

One of the things I hear most in coaching conversations is the desire to change career, particularly in the case of redundancy. I’d estimate at least 60% of people want to change career after being made redundant, of which the majority do. In fact, according to change career statistics, the average person changes career 5-7 times in their lifetime. (I am on number 4!). Last week we talked about what to do if you’re made redundant and this week I wanted to talk to you about changing career.

Why do you want to change your career?

The truth is that most of us fall into our career without thinking about what we really want/enjoy. We might finish school and start something or go to university and then do something related to our degrees but so many of us chose our degrees based on what someone else thought we should do, to begin with. When was the last time you made a decision in your career that made you happy, that was for you? I am not saying don’t take advice (definitely do take advice!), but I am saying: 

 it’s your career and so you get to choose what it looks like. 

When I moved from pharmaceuticals into careers advice a few people told me I had wasted my degree, that I was making a mistake. Yet, I knew in my heart it was the right choice. I spent 6 months or so researching my options and getting really clear on what was important to me. My conscience was clear so to speak. I could see how my skills could fit, I just needed an employer to see it too. I found an employer who did and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Changing my career was important to me because I wanted to do something that made me happy, which I felt made a difference. I read chemistry at university because I was good at it, not because I loved it. I love my job now and I want others to have that experience too. 

So consider what it is that you want – more balance? A happier life? To use a skill that you hideaway? What does that look like to you? The following set of questions will help you gain some clarity in turning those thoughts into a concrete list of ideas. 

Changing career after being made redundant

The first action to take when you want to change career is to take some time to understand what you want/need from a new career otherwise you are just jumping from the fire pan into the fire. Although it seems like it will take lots of time, I’d recommend 3-4 hours maximum and it will save you time in the future. This action is a stumbling block for many people but it needn’t take a long time – ten minutes here and there to send an email or mindmap some notes. You don’t need to wait until you have time, just get started. 

Ten questions to consider when changing career

  1. Think about what you want your life to look like from a practical perspective– working full/part-time? Commute or not? What are your ideal working hours? 
  2. What are your values? These are the things that are really important to you across your whole life, not just your career. 
  3. What skills in your career have you enjoyed? Think specifically about the transferable skills you can use in a new career
  4. What have you not enjoyed about your career so far? You will likely want to avoid these, although there may be some compromises to be made. 
  5. What career would you do if you had no restrictions? (You might like to consider what you wanted to do as a child here). It doesn’t have to be realistic and you might discount it at a later stage but this is all about getting ideas out of your head. 
  6. Name your strengths. So often we focus on the things we can’t do (based on fear of failure/imposter syndrome) and we forget to acknowledge the things we’re really good at. This is where a friend (or a coach) can come in handy! I have a number of strength exercises that I do with my clients to help you understand and honour your strengths.
  7. Find out about alternative careers – I recommend the Prospects website as it has loads of occupational profiles with links to similar roles if the one you’re looking at doesn’t fit your requirements and they have a career quiz (which when I used it was very accurate!)
  8. Where are the gaps in your knowledge? These might be the things that you need to change career e.g. experience, training, CPD. How can you fill them? 
  9. Who do you know who can help you? It could be someone to talk to about a sector/industry/role you’re interested in. Perhaps they could refer you on or arrange a job shadowing experience. 
  10. Take your time. I normally recommend taking a month to do all of the above, not every day but giving yourself time to think things through properly. It’s also useful to remember it can take up to 6-9 months to change career, especially if it’s a very different move. Be realistic that it’s OK if things are moving slowly. 

Taking action is the only way to move careers. You can read all the blogs and books you like, you can take quizzes and make lists but once you have done all the research you have to start applying!

In my experience, more than 95% of people I speak to a year after being made redundant are happy in their new role and generally say to us how happy they are that it happened – ‘it was the kick I needed to do something different’ is a common phrase I hear when all the dust has settled.

Next week: we tackle the fears we have around changing career


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