Guest blog by Joe Dilger – ‘Career Changer by 2020’ – it could be you ?

Whether you are a University student, about to graduate or are already working, with the increasingly rapid pace of change worldwide, it’s likely that many of us will be changing careers (again) by 2020.

How can we best prepare ourselves for a successful and enjoyable career change ? – of which there could be many – as we work into our 60’s into the 2060/70 decade (for those leaving University in 2014).

I’m a graduate who’s changed careers on several occasions – including from working in banking, to a Civil Servant in central Government, to Head of Governance for an education charity running schools, to (now) since 2012 running my own business as an Educational Governance Consultant, Enterprise Practitioner and business speaker.

A friend of mine, Kerri O’Loane, who runs her own business in Northern Ireland, where she helps women in their 20’s change careers, work abroad and create a lifestyle they love, advises:

“becoming crystal clear about why you want to change career will make the transition easier,”

and she gives the example

“if you’re feeling bored in a corporate company, you may find that working in a creative environment channels your inner passions and drive, and ultimately leaves you happier with your career choice.”

Ten Top tips for a successful career change:

  1. Do your research of sectors and industries you’d like to work in – for example there’s a range of free Industry guides to download from The Business and IP Centre of the British Library.
  2. Make use of the resources (both online and paper) of your University Careers Service, and talk to the advisers there about your ideas – even if you’ve graduated you can probably still use this service.
  3. Keep learning and improving your skills and qualifications, especially in areas you may be weak in.
  4. Do some voluntary work to ‘make a difference’ to a charity you’re passionate about helping – in return, you’ll gain new skills, and expand your network, and that voluntary work also may serve as ‘a bridge’ to a career in that area – this worked for me as a (voluntary) Coach for the education charity Teach First whilst previously working as a Civil Servant, and this enabled me in 2008 to move to be Head of Governance for the education charity Oasis running Academies (schools). The Guardian’s free ‘Voluntary Sector Network’ with information and online discussions, is a good resource to use if you want to know more about this sector.
  5. Talk to friends or contacts in other industries you’re interested in about what working in that industry (e.g. Education or Politics or Fashion Retailing) is really like.
  6. Be confident in your ability to make a successful career change, and work hard to prove yourself in that new career.
  7. ‘Go the extra mile’ when in your new job and career, including by doing appropriate background reading, to help you ‘know your stuff.’
  8. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” – as best you can, make time now to participate in voluntary work activities (as above) and/or other networks where members have shared interests, develop their skills, and have fun ! Through which you may develop more contacts that can help you make a successful career change in future. Great value and active networks for young people with members from lots of different careers include JCI United Kingdom, and Rotaract.
  9. Whatever your current job or career, make time for your friends, and tell them that you’re looking or thinking about a career change, and ask them to let you know if they see or hear of any suitable opportunities.
  10. Consider starting your own business or social enterprise – City Business Library (London) has a good starting point with links to further resources.

Joe Dilger is a multiple career changer, and now runs his own business as an Educational Governance Consultant, Enterprise Practitioner and business speaker. He is a regular media commentator, and is a former Civil Servant and ex banker amongst other careers !


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