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If you’ve been feeling ready to make a career change, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, 26% of workers are considering switching careers in the not-too-distant future, while 44% have already taken the plunge.
According to Michael Page’s recent Page Pulse report, 31 is the age at which most workers switch career path, after approximately a decade in their original profession.
For some professionals, moving into a different industry entirely is the only way to secure that dream job. But for many, it’s a lot quicker and easier to simply move into a suitable role within the company they are already employed at.
For example, if you work in HR but would like to work in tech, there may be opportunities within your company’s IT department. Perhaps you work in product development, but would love to move into your organisation’s marketing function. Or maybe you’ve always worked in finance, but a creative vacancy has arisen at your company that you know you’d enjoy more.
In this way, changing roles within a company can offer similar opportunities to moving to a brand new employer.
There are a variety of motivators for taking the leap into something new. The research found 33% of employees want a career that offers better opportunities to increase their earnings, while 32% want to take on a role they feel more passionate about. 19% were keen to have a better work-life balance, and 15% decided to change things up after a redundancy.
Moving to a different role in your current company may not be your end game. But it could be a useful stepping stone that allows you to gain skills and experience in the area you need them in, before you’re ready to apply for external jobs.
If you feel comfortable with your employer as a whole but have perhaps lost some of the passion for your day-to-day job, staying with the company can give you the best of both worlds.
Remaining with the same employer means retaining strong relationships with colleagues, and minimal disruption to your personal life as the location and benefits such as flexible working and annual leave should remain largely the same.
In addition, if you work for a company at the forefront of the market, it can feel like taking a step backwards to apply to work for a less progressive business.
Once you’ve settled on a career move within your company, it’s time to decide where you see your future. Consider your interests and overall career objectives during this process.
How much money do you want to make? Are you aiming for a rapid ascent? Do you want a good work-life balance, or are you happy to work overtime or unsociable hours in the right role?
It’s also important to think about whether you want to remain in the same sector for the long term. If you’d like the option to move across to other industries in future, it’s vital to take on a role that would offer you that option.
It’s always a good idea to keep your manager informed of your ambitions and goals. Not only does it mean they won’t be blindsided when you apply for a new job, but a good manager will help you to secure it, from extra training and secondments, to introducing you to the right people.
Therefore, if you have a strong relationship with your manager, it’s worth bringing up your career direction in a personal development meeting, and even asking if it’s something you could work towards together. It’s a good idea to frame the conversation as a means for you to grow professionally. Thank them for their support and guidance, and make it clear they have helped you to reach this professional point.
It’s also important to emphasise your commitment to your current role, and make it clear you won’t check out just because you’re working towards the next step in your career.
If you don’t have a positive relationship with your manager and are concerned about looping them in so early on, you may want to keep your cards closer to your chest - although it is still worth informing them before you apply for another internal role.
If you would like professional support and advice on your career change, but would rather not speak to your manager, consider whether there is another suitable but discreet mentor you could approach within the company in order to push your career development forward.
It’s also worth asking your manager about company policy on internal hiring.
When applying for an external role, it’s very difficult to deduce what the day-to-day reality of the job will look like. But as an internal candidate you have a huge advantage, because it’s much easier to find out about the department’s key players, benefits, and culture.
The first thing to focus on is whether the department is definitely the right choice for you? From a distance it may seem perfect, but when you take a closer look is there anything you’re unsure about?
Speak to people who are currently in similar roles to the one you’re aiming for. Ask not just about their duties and responsibilities, but how they feel about their role, their colleagues, and their department’s cultures. Are there any opportunities to collaborate with this department in your current job?
If your manager is supportive, you may be able to shadow a colleague from your chosen department, or enter a mentor-mentee relationship with a senior employee.
Meanwhile, perform external research on your potential new job too. Read through job descriptions, browse articles, blogs, and podcasts on the subject, join professional groups, and follow key players on LinkedIn.
You’re likely to have a number of transferable skills perfect for your new role. In fact, 13% of those surveyed reported the skills and experience they already had were transferable to their new sector or job function.
However, during your research, it should become apparent whether you’ll need any extra qualifications or training to secure your role. Depending on your chosen position, this could be anything from a university degree or college course to online qualifications or internal training.
While 14% of career changers surveyed said they went back to university first, moving within the same company may mean you don’t need to acquire any more qualifications - or you may be able to achieve them through an online course. Indeed, 25% of those who had a successful career change completed online courses.
Already being a part of your company means you will likely have some level of access to colleagues within the department you’re looking to move into. If you work for a smaller business, you may already know them well, while at larger organisations you may have to put in a bit more work.
Networking helps you build a group of people who are aware of your skills and ambitions, and who may champion you and ensure your CV lands at the top of the pile when a vacancy arises.
Make yourself as visible as possible within the company, by asking for high-impact assignments, attending company events, joining internal groups and networks, and socialising with your colleagues. You can also volunteer to work on projects involving collaboration between departments, and participate in company-wide training.
Once you feel ready to apply for a role in your chosen department, it’s time to browse the job vacancies. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately see your dream role on the intranet.
Reach out to your contacts within the department to find out whether there are likely to be any upcoming vacancies that would fit you.
If not, it’s still worth sending the manager an expression of your interest, and a request that they make you aware of any openings on the team as they arise. You could also ask if there are any side projects you could take on to build your experience.
Don’t assume that just because you already work within the company you’re going to walk into the job. You will still need to update your CV, prepare for the interview, and overall take the process seriously.
However, you are admittedly at an advantage - the cost to move an employee internally is much lower than hiring an external candidate. A major talking point in your interview should be how well you already know the company, understand your sector, and what you would not need training in.
At this point, inform your manager you intend to apply for an internal role, and commit to keeping them informed of the timeline.
A transition plan is an extremely helpful tool to ensure your move happens as smoothly as possible. It should ensure your current manager and your new manager are both on the same page about exactly how the transition will work, helping you to maintain your good reputation within your old department and preventing you from making a bad first impression in your new role.
Start by setting up a meeting with your manager and/or your successor to decide when and how your handovers will take place, and deadlines by which your loose ends will be tied up. Work with your new manager to find out when your new duties and responsibilities will kick in, and ensure you have the capacity to start the work when they need you to.
Ahead of your official start date, spend as much time preparing for your new role as possible. Begin building relationships with your new team and learning more about your new role. It is worth setting up some one-to-one meetings with those you’ll be working closely with, and connecting with your new manager to find out if there’s anything they would like you to do before you officially start your new role.
Whether you're looking for a new role within your current organisation, or externally it’s important to know exactly what you could be earning. Take a look through our candidate salary guides to learn your worth in today’s market.
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Don’t forget to also search our current jobs, or submit your CV today and one of our expert consultants will be in touch to help you with your job search.
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