How not to change careers - five ways to fall at the final hurdle


Career change usually happens in stages. For most of us it’s triggered by restlessness and frustration. Pretty soon we find ourselves in the ‘figuring out’ what next phase (you can find part one of this blog on the pitfalls of this stage here). Once you know what you want to do, the next hurdle is how to make career change happen.

At this point you’ve got a clear direction and heaps of momentum, what could possibly go wrong?

Are you at risk of falling at the last career change hurdle? Here are five ways you may be stuffing up your chances of finding and succeeding in your new job or even leaving your old one.

You’re convinced that ‘no experience means ‘no chance’

You compared yourself unfavourably to almost everybody, especially people with experience in a career you’d love to try. You lost sight of how clever and competent and adaptable you are. You forgot how much these qualities matter to businesses who value cultural fit and a fresh perspective at least as much as years spent doing the job. You overlooked a gazillion ways to “get experience’ and grow your contacts in a new field. Think you can’t break into a new career? Think again.

You locked yourself out of the ‘hidden job market

You swallowed the myth about a huge unadvertised job market only accessible to special people lucky enough to be ‘in the know’. You knew you weren’t among the chosen ones, so you stuck to sending out standard CVs for roles you found on the Internet and in newspapers. You kept your career change plan a secret. You absolutely did not ask your network for help or leads. You certainly didn’t approach companies doing work that interests you.

So here’s the thing. The hidden job market is nowhere near the often quoted 80% mark. However, heaps of great jobs do get filled by word of mouth and by being the right person, in the right place, at the right time. If you’re keen to crack that market, here’s a key.

You cut and ran

You quit your old job before you were really ready to leave. You didn’t explore the possibility of reducing your hours, working flexibly or starting something new on the side. You definitely didn’t think about how to fund your shift.

Although other people’s career changes sometimes appear effortless or even charmed, mostly they aren’t. Like all major transformations career change takes time and tenacity. Some people stay in a job that sucks while they save money to take a career break, study or start a new venture. Others negotiate fewer hours so they have time try new things and take small steps towards their next career.

Negotiating a staged exit and leaving your old job forever are two peak career change moments. They’re a great test of your professionalism, grit and resolve. Manage them with grace.

You’re struggling to be ‘new’

Your long awaited new job is anything but exciting. You’re overwhelmed by information and systems and people. Your predecessor left you a heap of work and a handful of instructions. You can’t find a decent sandwich or a good coffee. Settle down and settle in.

You’re hit by ‘imposter syndrome’

Whether you’re in a new or an old job or between jobs, you feel totally out of your depth. You’re waiting for the world to realise you’ve no business being in your role or your profession. Any minute now the game will be up. You’ll be exposed as a clueless fraud that somehow jagged a job. Imposter syndrome can strike at any stage of our careers and has zero relationship to how good we actually are at what we do. It is scary and persistent and a great chance to test the strength of your skills and knowledge. Handle it.

Stalled at a career change hurdle? Book a chat.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead! I can help you explore what meaningful work is for you. I’ll work with you to lessen the stress of changing careers.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.