Changing careers obstacles
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7 mental obstacles to changing careers and how to overcome them

26 Jun 2017

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to our career. Code Institute’s Brian O’Grady is here to help you overcome the mental barriers that might stop you from changing careers.

Changing jobs is a daunting process – starting in a new workplace with new duties, colleagues and management. And changing careers entirely is scarier still – leaving a world that you’ve known for years and heading into uncharted waters.

Is it any wonder that so many of us stay in jobs we don’t like, and even in long-term careers that don’t suit us?

There are numerous reasons for staying in the same career path, even if you don’t like it. Here are those reasons, and why they don’t hold water.

“I’m too old”

Age is subjective. Or, more specifically, the things you can do at certain ages are subjective. Plenty of people are changing careers in their 30s, 40s and even 50s.

You’re literally never too old to learn something new. Retirement age is often a moving goalpost, shifting further away every few years, so it’s wise to think about how you’ll spend those decades.

“I’m not experienced”

Again, this is subjective. You accumulate wisdom and experience wherever you work and no matter what you do with your life. And a surprising amount of that experience can be applied wherever you go. Nothing is wasted!

Someone who has worked in customer services would have experience relevant to sales, for instance. Managing a shop gives you some skills for office management, while travelling teaches you how to improvise and adapt, and so on.

Employers are more than happy to hire people with unusual CVs, even if they’re going from making sandwiches to making web applications (as one of our graduates did). Curiosity and drive will often make up for a lack of experience.

“I don’t want to go back to further education”

This is a common objection, but it suggests a misunderstanding of what’s available. Millions of professionals upskill part-time. This can take place over a few months or a few years. In fact, future-proofing your career is recommended even if you don’t want to change jobs. Regular upskilling is a part of modern working.

“I wouldn’t be good at it”

There are two ways to address this. The first one, which you might have heard since you were a child, is that you don’t know until you try. And the second rebuttal is that if you’re passionate and determined, it will reflect in the work.

Imposter syndrome – the fear that you’re not up to the job and that you might one day be found out – is incredibly common. We assume that others don’t have our doubts, but that’s only because we don’t have access to their inner thoughts. We only have access to our own. It’s liberating to think that others – like us – are just as unsure, but decide to do the job anyway.

“I’m not ready”

There are some who don’t mind diving into a new experience straight away, and some for whom there’s no choice: Everyone had a first job once, including you!

But it’s understandable to fear change and upheaval. If you’re especially anxious, why not test the waters first? Talk to someone working in the career you’d like to move to, for example, or take an aptitude test to see if it’s for you.

“I have no connections”

Connections can help land you a job, but they’re not the be all and end all. Some of our graduates have registered with recruiters upon graduation and then gotten calls for interviews shortly afterwards. Jobs are advertised for a reason – because not every position in the world can be filled by nepotism.

“I don’t want to start from scratch”

Again, this is an understandable concern. Starting at the bottom of a ladder is daunting, especially if you’re halfway up another.

But if you really don’t like your current career path, you know that it won’t improve when you progress. Conversely, if you’re working in a job you love, you’ll be happier to start at a lower position, and you’ll probably progress faster too.

The longest journey  

There’s an old adage that the longest journey begins with a single step. And, indeed, making the decision to change careers can be the hardest part. Once the journey begins, you’ll find talents you didn’t realise you had, opportunities you didn’t know existed and the satisfaction of making good on a decision to improve your life.

Nobody says that changing careers is easy. But, ultimately, it’s easier than staying in a job you don’t want.

By Brian O’Grady

Brian O’Grady is programme director for Code Institute. He works regularly with an industry advisory council to ensure that courses align with employers’ demands and tech trends.

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