Guide to Career Change through online courses

So, you've decided it's time for change, great! What next?

It can be a daunting place, the crossroads, an important decision now stands before you, the outcome of which has the power to change the course of your life, forever. But which way do I go? Where do I want to be? More importantly, how do I even get there?

Guide to Career Change & Other Options Through Online Courses

Here we’ll tackle some potentially difficult questions that you might not necessarily want to, the elephant in the room. The grass is always greener, and we’ve made some duff moves in our time, leaving our resumes as looking “flaky”, but that’s because we didn’t do our research, don’t make the same mistake!

First up, there’s no panacea for career change, no silver bullet, but there are some things you can do to avoid pitfalls and guide you to getting it right. After all, everyone’s journey is different (although we will advise you take a look at those who inspire you and have achieved what you want) but there are common patterns.

You’ve likely had your career to this point dictated to you via your circumstances, your boss, or just going with the flow, but now you’re in the driver’s seat, deciding not only what, but when. So who are we to tell you to get going? This is one of the most rewarding projects you can ever do, and it’s your project, both in the sense that you’re in control and also that it’s a project on you, You 2.0!

Look at your current situation; what’s brought you to this point?

You’re here reading about career change, so you know something is wrong, but what is it? Do you feel trapped and need to escape? Are you burnt out and at your wit’s end? Or are you at the other end of the spectrum, you’re bored, not being challenged, you’re seeing nothing new and it’s Groundhog Day, BAU, the status quo? You may have been one of the unfortunate masses that’s been caught up in the state of the world today (in which case we feel for you, but also good on you for doing something about it).

These situations all have different paths, but to the same goal, satisfaction and belonging. Kathryn Jacob (CEO of Pearl&Dean) talks about belonging in her new book “Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work” and hearing her talk about it over Zoom has certainly made us sit up and think “do I really belong here?”. In our case, the answer was a resounding no! “These aren’t my people”, hearing her say those words really resonated with us.

Do you need to escape, or just make a small change?

If you’re feeling that need to escape where you are, but ultimately you still enjoy the core of what it is you’re doing, then the options are fairly simple and easy to attain (comparatively speaking). It may be that it’s just something about the current role or company that needs changing, and there are a few ways of doing that.

Firstly, is your company open to a change in role or a reduction in hours? There are a few things to consider here, raising a flag to HR that you’re unhappy and potentially a “flight risk” might result your company bowing to your needs, or it might prompt them to start looking for a replacement (although this is a very short-sighted way to run a company).

If it’s the latter, then maybe you should be asking yourself if these are really the kind of people you want to be working for, are these your people?

That said, there’s no harm in approaching the same situation in a different manner; no manager (no good one), will ever be taken aback by the question “what do I need to do to get to the next level?”, in fact they should be delighted that you’re keen to progress and more importantly, progress with them. If you get any vibe other than a positive one from that question, then alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear! We’ll take care of what to do in that case later when it’s time to change who you work for.

If, however, you get the appropriate response and as a good manager they’ve spoken through what you need to do and given you a clear action plan, then it’s simply a matter of following that roadmap. It can often be beneficial to resolve any issues you’re having internally; jumping ship out of desperation can lead to a case of “out of the frying pan into the fire”, leaving yet another short role blemishing your resume or CV.

Often these roadmaps and progression plans involve demonstrating something that is either not in your current remit or your current skillset. You may be asked to provide evidence on CE (continuing education)/CPD (continuing professional development).

These are where the likes of LinkedIn Learning or International Open Academy shine, augmenting your current skillset with additional qualifications. No major changes, just building on your current foundations and becoming more rounded. Don’t forget, you can take these courses with you wherever you go, they’re not just for your current employer!

You need to change company?

So you’ve asked the question “what do I need to do to get to the next level?”, and there’s no positive response… either there’s no role open to move into or you’re working for a company that doesn’t value its staff. Either way, you’re looking at a change of company.

Not all companies are the same in an industry; there are usually some genuine, people-first companies that are in the same field. These tend to be smaller and as a result might demand a more rounded skillset. Larger companies tend to pigeonhole their staff, “sit in this chair and do this one task, over and over and over and over again… All the time you’re learning nothing new.

When you approach these smaller companies, you bring the depth of skill that comes with being a specialist in a large company, but often have gaps in the breadth of what’s required to be a big fish in a small pond rather than just another cog in the machine.

Where do you belong?

You might already have a new company in mind that you want to approach, you might have seen a job listing for a company you’d love to work for. Do some research, at the very least take a look on and make sure the culture really is what it says it is.

Find out what skill gaps you have

Take a look at the current employees or the job spec that you’ve seen. Find what it is they’re looking for and how you measure against that. Be honest with yourself, everyone has an ego, but be truthful to yourself where you’re winging it and work on that. Getting the job is one thing, keeping it is another, so if you go in claiming you can do everything they’re asking for you’ll be found out.

Again, LinkedIn Learning or International Open Academy will be ideal for this, plugging those gaps.

Approaching a company baring a certificate that you went out of your way to get just for them will go a very long way. Now we’re not saying you should be creative with the truth (although a lot of people are), but once you have that certificate then you can go baring that certificate to whoever you apply to, whether you did for them or not.

You need a complete career change?

There could be a number of reasons why you might need a complete career change. Your industry gives you no satisfaction, it’s being taken over by automation, the demands of industry just aren’t sustainable (Some jobs demand long hours and weekends, and as some so eloquently put it, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen), it’s simply not your thing and you fell into a job when you were young and have just been climbing the wrong ladder. The list goes on…

So, what is the right ladder? Now we’re into the meat of the topic as it were, full blown career change, quite daunting, especially if you’ve already got so far up a particular ladder than moving now means going in at the bottom level.

Take a look at all the intangible skills that you’ve picked up along the way, the transferable skills that we hear so much about. Where can these be applied? How can they be leveraged to make a sideways move rather than a downwards one?

These are all things to bear in mind as we go through what will be quite the planning process! But failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and the reward is your new life, so don’t be put off by what’s ahead. It’s all about taking the small steps that get you to that end goal.

What gives you satisfaction?

Ultimately, this is all about you, we can’t tell you what to do. We can’t tell you what will give you satisfaction, but you can use what we’ve covered above as a foundation to move forward. What is it that you needed to change? What is the ideal place for you to be?

This will be one of the most important aspects of setting you goals and trajectory. Take a moment to think about these simple questions and actions:

  • In your eyes, what will give your life meaning?
  • Does your current role or position really reflect who you are, deep down?
  • What do you think it is about this career move that will make your life better?
  • Keep a journal of your reactions to certain situations
    • Are there recurring themes?
    • Are they positive or negative?
    • Which aspects of your current job do you like and dislike?
    • What is causing this? The work itself or the culture?
  • As you start to get a picture of what to avoid or aim for, write them down
  • How hard are you willing to work?
    • Do you have dependents that rely on you or are free spirit?
    • What is your ideal work-life balance?
    • Do you have a hobby that you need to keep a lot time for?
      • Sometimes it’s not the job itself, but what else it allows you to do
    • Is there anything you can do at your current role to prepare you for your next one?
      • Can you shadow or study someone that’s already doing something similar?
    • Do you get satisfaction from working with others or working alone?
      • Is it a broad business role or specialist role you’ll want?
Passion – what grabs you?

Yes, we’ve said it… Passion.

This is double-edged sword, so thing carefully about this one. Is there something else you’re doing that’s just driving you way more than what you’re being paid for? Where are you drawing you energy? This could be one of the easiest ways to set exactly what it is you want to go on to do, but some things are sacred and turning it into a job might just destroy your favourite hobby.

We talk about passion a lot, and there’s a lot of weight to that, you’ve got to enjoy what you do, but you also don’t want to ruin something you love. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but there’s a good chance that by turning your hobby and passion into a job you’ll just end up hating it and removing one of life’s pleasures. Is it even feasible to generate an income from what you do as hobby?

One of us has faced the constant question of “you love cooking, why don’t you become a chef?”, the answer: hell no! Aside from the long hours and stress, there’s the factor of potentially destroying something that’s held dear.

Then there’s that dream, the one that’s kept you going this long, the “one day”, and the fear of having that dream come crashing down around you if you throw yourself into it and fail at the first attempt, getting burnt, which can be soul destroying, so treat that dream nicely, approach it right and nail it first time. Don’t go in half-cocked. Similarly, don’t expect to get what you want straight away, after all, this is journey.

If, however, you can make that work for you and make a genuinely fulfilling career Let’s build that action plan (hint: this will change as you go through your journey and discover more opportunities, also possibly some roadblocks that you need to steer around).

Your interests will also likely change over time as you discover new areas you’re keen to explore, so while you might be set on something in particular, keep an open mind, you may just not have come across it yet.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?​
Career Change

But in all seriousness, you might be surprised to find out that those “fantasies” aren’t so ludicrous after all, and on the flip side, you’ll some things you initially find boring might turn out to really grab you (you’ll be surprised at some of the seemingly mundane roles we’ve had in the past that have gone on to become an obsession)

Potential Risks

Yes, risks. All potential rewards come with risks, and the bigger the jump the higher the risk. Whether you’re in a position to absorb that risk depends entirely on your circumstances.

If you’re looking to be self-employed then be prepared to give up the luxury of job security, a pension scheme and any other benefits that come with being on a payroll.

If you’re looking to stay employed by someone else in a new area that you’re breaking into then you also need to be comfortable with the idea that it might be a bumpy ride to start off. You’ll be a newbie again compared to where you’ve come from, wet behind the ears.

You’ll make a few mistakes, everyone does, don’t let that rattle you. If you’ve been open with your new employer about your past and what you’ve done to get here, they’ll be sympathetic to the odd bit of teething trouble.

Remember just above that we said reward carries a risk? Well that’s exactly it, the reward. Keep your eyes on prize and stick through any of these troubles you may face, it’s the reason you started this journey in the first place. Remember, everyone was a newbie once.

Get a second opinion

If the only person you’re going through this with is you then you might find you’re locked in a bubble. Bounce your ideas off some friends. It’s scary at first opening up and letting someone else into your dream, they may ridicule you right? It might sound ludicrous!

You’ll be surprised how honest people can be when you go through what you’ve been thinking about. Most of the time you’ll be surprised how impressed they are, and that in itself will give you even more drive to get going.

If they do point out some holes or flaws in your strategy then isn’t it better to know about them and address them now rather than go off blindly down an avenue only to be stung by something you could’ve known about and protected against from the start?

Time for action

We can’t tell you what the results of the exercises above will have exposed to you, but we do know one thing. If you’ve followed the steps then you should have a pretty good idea of what it is you’re looking to get into.

Hopefully at this point you’re excited about the prospect of what your future could look like and you’ve assessed whether it’s viable, what people currently in that position are experiencing and you’ve decided that’s the life for you too.

We’re no longer looking at just augmenting your current skillset, but creating a completely new one. You might need to get some accredited qualifications under your belt. LinkedIn and IOA can help you get a flavour for what you’re committing to, but once you’ve casually browsed the courses there and everything feels right, it’s time to dive into the serious stuff with edX, Oxbridge Home Learning, DataCamp or our very own Accounting & Finance path.

So now you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to get stuck in! Good luck! Not that you need it!