Changing Careers: Where to Start?

03 November 2020 by National Bank
Changing careers

There are many reasons why you may want to change careers. Some people are dissatisfied with their jobs because of their working conditions. Others are in search of meaning, of a position that is more in line with their values. For others still, the industry they're in is going through a challenging time. Regardless of your age, whether you’re 30, 40 or 50, it’s never too late to change careers and improve your situation.

The average length of employment in Canada for people over 15 years of age is 106.5 months as of September 2020, or almost 9 years, according to Statistics Canada. That doesn't mean that leaving a job always means changing careers. But sometimes, it does raise questions.

Changing careers is like reorienting yourself, and it involves time, money and sacrifice. Before taking the plunge, you need to ask yourself the right questions and develop a good strategy. Here are our tips.

Why change careers?

"Each case is unique," explains Sussy Galvez, an expert at National Bank. It may be said that at least once in their career, a professional will grapple with the question, “Do I want to change my career?”

Once the idea of a career change takes root in your mind, take some time to think about it, advises the expert. Why aren't you satisfied? What do you want to do? And most importantly, what are you willing to do to achieve your goal?

At this stage, take advantage of the resources at your disposal to help you think about your next move. You may want to change careers, but you don't know what's right for you. Just remember that all your questions and queries are valid and understandable.

What new career path should I choose?

First, there are a variety of books available that can help you. "The Japanese IKIGAI method is also very interesting," Galvez adds. "It helps identify what gives meaning to our lives.”

Career counsellors can provide guidance as well. With the help of a wide range of tests like psychometric evaluations, they can help you truly analyze the questions you may be asking yourself. What are the steps to follow? Should you go back to school? Should you take special training? And what are the prospects in the new job fields that you may want to pursue?

Also, consider talking to people who are already in the profession you're thinking of joining. They may have valuable advice to share with you. Their experiences can shed light on things you might not have thought of.

How do I make a career change?

Once you've targeted the occupations and industries that interest you, take a detailed inventory of your transferable skills. What are your assets? What are your experiences? What talents, training and certifications do you already have?

Once you've completed the inventory, you will be able to assess what extra measures you will need to take, if any, to achieve your goals.  

While some jobs may already be within reach, other opportunities might require further training. But in any case, remember to prepare well for your job interview.

“Let's say you choose to teach at university," explains Galvez. “You’ll need to do some research about the prerequisites and tools you’ll need to achieve your ambitions. If you need to get a master's or doctorate, it's an investment of time, money and effort, and it's an opportunity cost, because if you go back to school, your income is likely to decrease.”

Don't minimize the importance of discussing it with your loved ones as well. If, in your case, changing your career involves further education, additional costs or a decrease in your income, it will have an impact on your family and on your plans, whether it be travelling, buying a house, or your lifestyle in general. If you have young children, will your spouse be able to support them while you’re juggling your courses and workload?

Also, make a budget, and make sure that your loved ones, same as you, are ready for this new adventure!

How do you finance your career change?

Once you've reached this step, you may already have all your answers. If not, it's time to do your research: what are the potential benefits of your career change? In terms of your personal finances, will you earn more money, or will you have to deal with a lower salary in another job?

Look through a variety of sources when doing research. Talking to people working in your field of interest can be an asset, but there are various online resources, such as Statistics Canada, that can be helpful as well.

If you anticipate an increase in salary, it might be easier to borrow to carry out your goals. There are several ways to finance your ambitions, such as personal and mortgage lines of credit.

That said, Galvez advises that, “If you can, use the funds you've accumulated in your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). You might also consider withdrawing a portion of your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) under the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP).”

What is the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)?

Under this federal program, you can withdraw $10,000 per calendar year up to a maximum of $20,000 to finance your return to full-time studies. And it's even better if you're in a relationship. In this case, your spouse can do the same thing and finance your return to school for the same amount.

To take advantage of this program, however, you must ensure that you’re enrolled in a qualifying program of study at an accredited institution that lasts at least 3 months and includes at least 10 hours of classes per week. In addition, you must begin repaying the amounts withdrawn from the RRSP no later than 5 years after the withdrawal, repaid over a period of no more than 10 years, generally beginning in the second year following the completion of the program. Other conditions may apply, so take the time to do your research!

Also, remember to check with your school and your province or territory. You may be eligible for loans or bursaries to help you carry out your plan.

Of course, all situations – as well as all the assistance and financing you may be able to obtain – may vary greatly from one person to another. Luckily, we can help you sort it all out. There is no age limit if you want to change careers. While it’s possible to make this transition, it’s an important decision that shouldn't be taken lightly.

What steps do I need to take to make a career change?

Step 1

Do you want to change careers? Rest assured, you’re not alone. Take a moment to think about the implications. What makes you want to change careers? What are your dreams?

Step 2

Make sure you have all the resources at your disposal. Articles, books, tests, career counsellors, etc. All means are relevant to help with your decision-making. Think about discussing your project with someone doing your dream job. This person may have some good advice for you!

Step 3

Take an inventory of your transferable skills. Once you’ve completed this exercise, you’ll be able to assess the steps you’ll need to reach your goal.

Step 4

Talk it over with those closest to you. Since there is likely to be an impact on your family and future plans, make sure you have their support.

Step 5

Assess the potential impact of your career change. Are you going to earn more money, or will you have to deal with a pay cut in another job?

Step 6

Assess your financial needs. If you anticipate an increase in salary, you might think that it’ll be easier to borrow to carry out your projects. There are several ways to finance your ambitions. We can help you with all of them. Also, create a budget. Will you have to change your lifestyle? What financial resources will you need?

Step 7

Dive in! Your decision is well thought out, so now it's time to act.

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