Mid-life is a time when many people reassess their priorities and decide to make a career change. The Covid-19 pandemic has also prompted employees of all ages to rethink their career paths, either due to personal preferences or because of retrenchment and a shortage of work options.
Another factor prompting a career shift is the realisation that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is making many traditional jobs obsolete through automation. There are already far fewer opportunities for travel agents, legal administrators, and illustrators, for example, while demand grows for software developers, teachers, nurses, human resource specialists, and industrial engineers.
“Making a career shift can be a positive and strategic move, with the potential to increase your income and ensure a better lifestyle in the long term,” says JustMoney Marketing Manager Shafeeka Anthony. “Such a move is best approached calmly and logically, though. An impulsive decision to email a resignation letter to your difficult boss could badly jeopardise your future prospects and impact your finances.”
If you are considering a career change, JustMoney offers the following advice:
Consider why you are dissatisfied:
Could you be physically and emotionally exhausted, and in need of a holiday, or is it a more fundamental yearning? Do you want greater flexibility, a better work-life balance, or new challenges and adventure?
Speak to a career counsellor:
Professional career advisors are not only for school-leavers. A counsellor can help you assess your skills, open your eyes to fresh options, and guide you through training applications and CV updates. You can also book an interview with a recruitment specialist in your area of interest.
Put your toe in the water:
Exploring a side hustle while keeping your current job will help you to figure out if a new interest has potential. If you yearn to set up a craft enterprise, start making items in your spare time and sell them online and at weekend markets. Take online courses, watch video tutorials, and find a like-minded community.
“Making a career change may sound quick and easy, but it usually requires developing a number of strategies,” says Anthony. “A key aspect of a successful transition is being in control of your finances. You want to avoid taking on debt, or dipping into your retirement funds.”
Check your budget:
Ensure that you have a clear understanding of your monthly costs and obligations. Rent, medical aid, and grocery bills will still need to be paid while you pivot. If you are a parent, your child’s education will remain a priority for many years. These all should be factored into your planning.
If you are considering a change, it is likely that you will have a gap between paycheques. Sufficient income to cover your living costs for six months is always recommended.
When assessing your new career options, research salary scales. Is there a skills shortage in your desired area of work, and what are the opportunities for progress? When you do apply for a new job, key considerations will be medical aid, leave, and retirement funding.
It is tempting to cash out your retirement fund when you leave your old career behind. It could seem like an opportunity to pay off debt and start afresh. However, this means you will have to start retirement investing from scratch and will lose out on the power of compound interest. Rather transfer your payout to a retirement annuity, pension, or provident preservation fund.
“A career change could grow your skill set, offer new experiences, and give you a renewed sense of purpose,” says Anthony. “Making such a major life transition, however, usually requires investing time and money. Fortunately, there is plenty of information and training online, which makes it easier to explore your options and to upskill yourself. Speaking to a reputable financial advisor is also recommended when you are considering a career switch.”
Read what happens to retirement savings when you get a new job.