The Laughing Crow is a moniker whose voice I borrow: a rascal who is abrasive but honest, curious, and outgoing.
Maybe you want to change your career, or maybe you've recently lost your job. Having been made redundant or losing a job are common occurrences during the current Covid pandemic, and often it is hard to find exactly the same level of job in the same industry.
If you're lucky, you might be able to move up, taking advantage of seniority to apply for a higher-level job instead, or one with team leadership options. But what if you need to switch entirely?
One option often dangled in front of job-seekers is to seek a study and then switch their careers over. This is a good option, but it can be intimidating to find what finds you, what can sustain you, and feels good to wake up to in the morning. So how to find a study that brings you to where you want to go?
Step One: Face the Job Market
The first thing to come to terms with is that you will follow an education in order to get a job, or possibly start a company. That means that whatever you go for, it has to be marketable, and it has to be employable.
What are most job ads for in your region? Project managers? IT professionals and programmers? Healthcare personnel? Teachers? Recruiters?
The job openings that exist right now are going to be a good indicator of shortages that need filling. Especially if you use Linkedin, save a job you find interesting and see how long it takes for the job to disappear (position filled) and how many applicants there were. A job that takes long to fill and has few candidates can be an indicator of a niche that is hard to fill, meaning that you have a fair shot and finding work in that area.
Look for the following signs that a study is a viable road to a new job:
- A job right after the study, including your current expertise added to it, should get you a wage you can live on. In other words, a similar salary likely to what you have now.
- There should be many job openings for the job area you look to study in, in junior levels all the way up to senior levels.
- Balanced time required to follow the study with how easy it is to find a job in that sector, and how well-paid it is. It makes little sense to do three years of study to face a dozen job openings and a hundred competitors, when you could do a study in a different field that takes two years and you run nearly unopposed.
Consider the option as well of finding an education where it is easier to find a trainee position for, so you can combine your study with a part-time, short-duration job in the field. This will build your experience and allow you to already make a network in your new work field.
Step Two: Look Long-Term
It's not just about the here and now. That study you are committing to is going to have to carry you for a considerable amount of time. While it's fine to take a short study in order to move your career in the right direction, an investment of two years or more is something you want to guarantee a good return on.
Studying with an eye on the job market
Talk with recruiters and study coordinators to find out what the job market is going to be like in your new field of study. Often you will find that studies include some information on the job market you will move in to, which is entirely relevant because an education should lead to a role in the job market!
And don't just look for the next year or so, look for five or ten years after graduation - you might be looking for a job more often.
Studying with an eye on your health
You won't be young forever, and the way our economy goes you never know at what age you will be able to retire. When you decide on a change in career and the associated study, pick something that does not require you to be strong and healthy. Being a rescue worker or police might be something you can do for a few years, but being an accountant or programmer can last you a lifetime.
Studying with an eye on technology
Technology is a wonderful thing, but it sometimes replaces whole sectors of employment. A hundred years ago there was plenty of work in bookbinding, but nowadays it is a dying profession, with good reason. Try and make sure that you are investing time in a profession that stays. HR and recruitment will be popular as long as people need jobs, and accountancy, project management and sales will be hard to replace.
However, even programming carries a risk. A language you learn right now might no longer be relevant in five to ten years, so be sure to invest in the underlying knowledge, such as Data Science or Digital Psychology, instead of just the programming itself. This will also allow you to switch from one programming language to another much quicker.
Step Three: Know Your Finances
It may seem like a liberating thing, to focus on your education and not on the daily grind and the bottom line. But if you think about studying, it means worrying about your finances sooner rather than later.
You will need to pay for your livelihood while you study, and potentially for your study itself as well, depending on where you live. In addition, there is no guarantee that you can get a job right off the bat after graduating, you will still need to hunt for a job.
Savings to save the day
Being able to save up, with whatever part-time or short-term job you can, is going to be a really important thing. It also pays to reduce your lifestyle down, so you can live off less money.
Selling things you own that you won't need anymore can give a good influx of cash, as can doing odd jobs over the weekend. Try and find a savings account with good interest rates, because if you study for several years it also means you can take advantage of savings that way.
Part-time this, part-time that
One option can be to find an education that is given part-time, so you can also add a part- or fulltime job to it. Of course that job is not going to be your dream job, and you likely will have to settle for a job several levels lower than you previous. After all, if you could find a job at your previous level, you wouldn't need to study.
It takes two
If you are in a relationship and your partner does have steady income, see if you can strike a deal. A few years where they have to do the heavy lifting to bring in the money, and when you switched careers and have a new job, you will take over that role and they get to do an education of their choice.
That way you both benefit, and the end result likely is a much higher shared wage. After both of you have completed your career switches, you likely will feel much happier, and have a greater financial stability.
Many countries have an option to loan money to pay for studies and some degree of livelihood while you study. This often means you will be accumulating debt, so you have to be careful with that. Balance the debt with the expected raise in income - if you lose all your wage increases to paying off a multi-decade debt, it may mean more headaches than it's worth.
A loan to study and live is most often a good idea if the study is short (1-2 years), or the field is lucrative (software development, corporate recruiter, international sales) or the interest is relatively low and you can easily get a job after graduating.
Pillars and supports
Check with your community, municipality and country organizations if there are any support programs that you can gain a benefit from to support you in your studies. This is a wide and diverse terrain, and each country has their own programs and rules.
Step Four: Focus On Odd Benefits
Aside of knowing what you want to get better at and what career group you find interesting it is also wise to focus on other characteristics of the career you want to have.
Do you want to travel a lot?
Jobs in international companies, especially at the higher levels, often require a lot of travel to meet department heads, implement strategies or consult locally. If you like travel, this can make that particular job choice a lot more appealing. However, these jobs are also in great demand, so be prepared to face stiff competition!
Likewise, this opens up options for studies abroad, which can quickly expand your network of contacts as well as look good on your resume!
Do you accept strange working hours?
Your job market reach has already widened considerably because the Corona pandemic opened up the remote- and hybrid job options. Most people don't look for jobs too far away even under those circumstances, because of the inconvenient hours. After all, a job you take in a country that is at +6 hours from you means for a 9-to-5 that you will start at 3 pm and end your shift at 11 pm at night!
Planning your day around such strange times has similar consequences like night jobs and irregular jobs have, but has the benefit that you can combine this with regular daytime studies. Alternatively, you could work part-time during the day and choose a distance study abroad that is active during the evening.
Step Five: Spread Your Chances
When you consider your field of study or the courses you choose, try and spread out the potential jobs you could do with them. As mentioned before, a study in Python programming gives you little else in job options, while a study in Data Science gives many more options, at the cost of higher requirements and, usually, more study time.
Breadth of Study
When you compare studies, there is a sweet spot where studies become broader, up yo a point where it will become harder to decide what jobs you could do with it. Consider a series of studies:
Jobb Coach -> Recruiter -> HR professional -> Sociology
The first two studies offer concrete jobs, but are limited in your growth. HR Professional would give you a wider range of jobs, and also more future career opportunities.
Sociology is then a lot wider, but it becomes less easy to pinpoint specific jobs that would require that study. If you want to work in HR your best bet might then be to go for HR professional, which allows you to do work as a job coach or recruiter too, and requires less imagination from hiring managers to see if you'd qualify for a job than sociology.
Studying more than one topic allows you to carve out a niche that is more specialized. This is recommended if you have a very specific skill or interest already, which you can weave into your new studies.
For example, if you have a strong interest in mergers & acquisitions from your previous finance job, and proceed to study Human Resources. With your graduation you can now market yourself as Human Resources, but can say that you specialize in "merging work forces". This gives you a specific edge!
If you have strong study ethics, you can also try to do a double study. This works best if one topic is something you already have considerable experience in. In the example mentioned above, an Accounting course and an Human Resources course together for a mergers & acquistions focused specialty on both finance and HR..
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Lolcrow