A career change can be prompted by a variety of triggers, from a need for new personal challenges, to shifts in the industry. The advertising, marketing, digital and design sectors move fast, and people with today’s in-demand skills can become yesterday’s men (and women) very quickly.
For some people happiness comes from doing the same job but in a different environment. For instance we help lots of people make a successful shift from an agency to an in-house role, and vice-versa.
Let there be lists. If you’re not sure where to start, the first step is to work out what you want. Would a move in your current organisation satisfy you; do you want to carry on in the same role but for a different employer; or did you fall into your current career and you’re looking for a total change?
Although they look simple these are actually quite tough questions, and answering them honestly will help you move forward.
Next you need to make two lists – one should include your values and what you do and don’t want out of your job; while the second should be an assessment of your skills, strengths and interests, both in and outside work.
Get some help. A good recruitment consultant will help you clarify what you want, map it against the industry picture and what’s achievable, suggest roles that fit your criteria and help you make a plan.
We all have to work around the practicalities of carry on putting food on the table while we chase the dream, but you may not need to totally reinvent yourself. We have helped lots of people in the creative industries make a strategic move that meets their aspirations but doesn’t involve being out of work while they change direction.
What’s hot and what’s not. Without a doubt, digital is the healthiest sector to be in right now. Vacancies for web developers, UX designers, online marketers and software developers are springing up as fast as we can fill them.
Web developers continue to top the list of what employers want, and if you’re a good PHP developer you’re unlikely to be out of work any time soon. A surprising number of web experts are self-taught and if you’re a wannabe developer working in another role, our advice is to learn CSS and (X)HTML and built up a portfolio of work. Do it for free if you have to – charities and voluntary groups will be glad of the support and you’ll earn yourself some good karma too.
Whatever your current role, if you’re looking for a change and you want the move badly enough you could use some of your holidays to get work experience. Having some live projects and studio time under your belt gives you a track record to show prospective employers before you make the switch.
Sideways shift. If your eye for detail is what makes you a good account manager or artworker, look at a move into studio management. Having top level multitasking abilities makes you ideally suited for a key role that keeps the agency running smoothly and maintains its profitability.
Even in companies that use workflow management programmes such as Basecamp or Synergist there is still a place for someone with a cool head who has the people skills to cope with demanding clients and impossible deadlines.
Think laterally too. If you are a PR professional with a real talent for writing consider entry-level copywriting roles in advertising agencies.
Get on the radar. Remember that in today’s market a lot of jobs are not advertised. Our clients ask us to seek out someone for a particular role and we use our contacts across the North East and Scotland to come up with a handful of good matches.
Some of the people we put forward might not be doing exactly the role the employer is looking for, which is where our experience and industry knowledge comes in. We know our candidates well enough to see where their skills and abilities would make them highly attractive to the right employers. And because clients know our consultants are ex-industry creatives themselves they trust our opinion of candidates, which means we can often secure interviews that might not happen if people were assessed on their CV alone.
Be your own boss. For many people a career change involves joining the ranks of the UK’s 1.4m freelancers. People working in design, PR and marketing are perfectly placed for starting their own business – read our simple tips on getting started here.
Freelancers are in great demand at the minute, with agencies and in-house teams who want a pool of talent on hand when they need it. Many of our temporary contracts turn into permanent positions so it’s a low-risk way of testing the waters and seeing if the freelance world really suits you.
Be brave. For job satisfaction and creative buzz, our sector can’t be beaten. There are lots of people within it who have used their industry experience to change course and take up new careers and have never looked back – our own consultants included.
Life is short, so if you’ve got itchy feet, don’t stay miserably stuck in a role that no longer suits you. Take a structured approach, get some expert advice and make the switch to your dream job instead.