How to Find a Career Change in Your Own Workplace
Changing career usually means changing the employer you work for, but this isn’t the only option. If you’re happy with your working environment and you respect your company’s ethos, why not consider an internal career move?
Here’s our guide to refreshing your role without leaving your workplace.
Do Your Research
Are you known to be a productive, loyal and reliable employee? An excellent track record could boost your chances of securing an internal career change, as it’s much less risky for an employer to hire someone they know and trust. Sticking with a familiar company also makes it easier for you to explore potential careers and gain an insight into other departments.
To avoid making a bad decision, you’ll need to consider your alternative career options carefully, so we’ve come up with four questions that will kick-start the process.
1. What kind of careers are available?
The careers page on your company website is a good place to start when it comes to researching different fields. Career opportunities will also appear on internal job boards and in internal newsletters. You could even ask your HR team for information about potential career paths and future openings.
2. Which careers would you really enjoy?
When you’re exploring specific careers we suggest comparing them to your current job. Start by deciding which aspects of your job you enjoy the most, then consider whether the new career would offer you the chance to focus on these.
Once you’ve come up with a couple of career options, identify a few people who already work in those areas and invite them for coffee, as this will give you the chance to ask them about the day-to-day realities of their role. However, make sure you ask them not to share any details about your conversation at this early stage.
You’ll also discover a lot about particular careers by searching the internet. Try hunting for articles and videos, trade publications and professional associations. It’s also worth asking to join any relevant professional LinkedIn groups, as you’ll probably find that experienced members are happy to share their insights.
3. What about qualifications?
Finding out whether you need to retrain is an essential part of the decision making process. If you do need to gain extra qualifications, would you have to do this before you change career or could you do your training while you learn the ropes? Some careers require a degree, so if you don’t have one already you’ll need to explore funding options. If you need to earn while you learn, there are plenty of online courses available.
Even if your chosen career doesn’t require extra qualifications, making the effort to take part in any relevant internal training will show initiative and enhance your CV.
4. Do you have the right skills?
While most careers require some specific skills and qualifications, transferable “soft” skills can be equally important. These are the personal and social skills you need to do most jobs. They complement your academic qualifications, enable you to interact with others and have a positive impact on your career. A quick analysis of your current role should help you to work out which skills you already possess.
Are you clear thinking, organised and good at prioritising under pressure? Then you’re probably good at solving problems. An element of creativity is also involved, as the best problem solvers are able to come up with original ideas and see things from a new perspective. Approaching issues analytically is the key to problem solving. To find solutions, you’ll need the ability to process data quickly and accurately, picking out any relevant information. Once you’ve got the information at your fingertips, you can assess it and predict a variety of outcomes.
Every workplace experiences disagreements, so the ability to resolve them is invaluable. Conflict managers encourage colleagues to debate issues honestly, helping each person to express their emotions and see the situation from both points of view. To do this, you’ll require self-awareness, self-confidence, tact and plenty of patience.
When it comes to meetings, work presentations and conversations with colleagues and clients, communication skills are crucial. You’ll need to adapt your speech to suit the situation, as many jobs involve communicating with people from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds. Non-verbal communication is equally important, particularly if your job involves working overseas.
Listening is also a key skill, particularly when it comes to understanding instructions, negotiating and asking relevant questions. Good listeners maintaining eye contact with whoever is speaking. Nodding, smiling and agreeing with a simple “Yes” are also good ways of showing a speaker that they have your full attention.
Well organised employees manage to meet their deadlines and produce high quality work by prioritising the most important tasks. This skill is essential if you’re taking on a role that involves project management. It also helps if you’re able to delegate responsibilities and use time saving tools.
Consider the practicalities
An internal career move still involves changes, so before you start applying for that new job, take a moment to think about how it could affect your lifestyle. Will your new career be based in the same building or will you have to travel to a new location? Then there are the working hours to consider, as any changes to these could have implications for childcare costs, commuting times and your social life.
It’s also wise to do a little departmental detective work, to check that the department you’ll be moving to has a friendly, productive work culture. You should also find out whether there are likely to be opportunities for career development in the future.
Finally, there’s the question of pay. Will your career change mean a salary drop and if so, can you afford it? What about any of the perks and bonuses that accompany your current position?
Make your move
Congratulations! You’ve decided on your new career and you’re about to begin applying for jobs. Taking the plunge can feel scary, but you can smooth the way by preparing properly and doing things in the right order.
Tell your boss
It might go against the grain, but it’s wise to tell your manager about your career aspirations before he or she hears about it in the break room. Depending on their response, your employer may even offer to introduce you to your potential new manager and colleagues.
Once you’ve secured a new position, try to avoid announcing your departure in the the middle of a big project. Before you leave, aim to tie up as many loose ends as you can and offer to mentor your replacement if possible. It’s also important to keep working at full steam during those last few weeks, as your reputation may precede you!
When you’ve decided which department to aim for, it’s worth taking every opportunity available to interact with your future colleagues. Look out for company wide projects, meetings, social events and fundraisers that allow you to network and showcase your skills.
Update your CV
Your new manager won’t know everything about you, so it’s essential to update your CV, including all of the skills, strengths and achievements that are relevant to your new career.
It’s particularly important to link the skills you use in your current career to the ones you’ll need for your new role, so make sure you do this in the personal statement section of your application form. When it comes to writing the accompanying cover letter don’t avoid the issue of your career change, but don’t apologise for your lack of experience either. Instead, be positive about the new challenge and mention all of your relevant work experience, as well as your transferable skills.
Making an internal career change takes time and effort, so it won’t happen overnight. However, we hope that our handy guide helps you to successfully convince your employer that you’re the perfect fit for your new role. Good luck!