It’s been said that in the 21st Century we can expect to have 3-5 different careers over our working lives.  That’s quite a difference from our parents and grandparents, who often got an entry-level job, moved up, and retired from the same company.

Me, I’m on my third career and enjoying it immensely. I wonder if I made any mistakes along the way…

  1. Be prepared–If you know the new field you want to enter, make sure you get the required education to qualify you for it. Even if you have designed websites, for example, you should take a class or two to ensure that your skills are competitive with those of other candidates.
  2. Know what you don’t want, and what you do–You’re not changing careers because you are thrilled with where you are now, so analyze your current situation for what you like about it and what you would like to be different. The clearer you are on these, the more likely your new career will bring you more happiness than the old one.
  3. Understand your fungible skills–Many creatives can apply their skills to an almost infinite variety of industries. If you have been a Graphic Designer in the Healthcare field, there is nothing to stop you from becoming one in another completely unrelated industry like Automotive or Marketing. Think about what you are interested in outside of work and look at companies that pique those interests.
  4. Balance passion with pragmatism–Working for pennies in a field you love may not pay the mortgage, but a high salary in a field that you find tedious is not a good reason to change careers and you won’t last. Target companies in industries that interest you and go for the best role for which you are qualified and it should balance out.
  5. Be patient–A career change can take time. If you are moving into a completely new role, do some volunteering to get comfortable. There are many wonderful non-profits out there which can give you valuable experience and even recommendations to help you move into your new career.
I’m loving my third career and am eternally grateful to those who inspired me, supported me and gave me a chance to have the life I have today!  
Wendy Stackhouse on LinkedIn, Consultant for Artisan Creative