• Creative Fix NZ

What To Do When You Realise You've Chosen The Wrong Career Path…

You’ve had a bad week. No, a bad month. Actually, now that you’re thinking about it, the whole year has felt ‘off’. But why? The clients are great, the boss is a stand-up guy, the money is awesome, and you’ve been doing so well you’ve been pegged for the corner office promotion. So why do you feel so… low?

Maybe you are just not in the right line of work. Aaaaaaaaand you wouldn’t be alone. A recent Gallup Poll puts a staggering 85% of us (worldwide) in the unengaged, ‘I hate my job’ category. Statistics like this are overwhelming to process. Even if you found another job, chances are you wouldn’t be one of the happy, lucky 15%. (To be fair, that 85% is comprised of people unsatisfied with their jobs for a host of reasons, not just those who think they are in the wrong line of work altogether, but what I am trying to point out is that finding a job that you love is easier said than done.)

Adults like to ask from a child's first day of school (or even earlier): ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Whether the child had a reply that stayed the same over the years or changed depending on the day or their favourite superhero, they were basically expected to have some career plan in place for the future. This notion is reinforced throughout secondary school, with the constant talk around the best subjects to pick to align with your future plans and which university you should attend.

If this exact course of action hasn’t happened to you, I can almost guarantee you will know someone who has ticked up a whopping student loan and spent 3+ years studying for a qualification that they don’t even get to use.

“What’s Bryan doing these days? Is he still doing his sport/exercise science thing? No? Oh, he’s a policy writer for the Department of Conservation now? Wow! That’s a bit of a change!”

Aside from the fact that there has been subtle (or not so subtle) constant pressure to decide your entire career by the age of 18 (ultimately forcing you to choose a pathway before you have the life experience to ascertain whether you enjoy it, or can actually see yourself doing it for five+ years!), it is a competitive world out there. The numbers of positions in highly desirable careers (arts, music, sports, entertainment) are minimal. No matter how much you loved sculpting or wanted to be the next Crusty Demons motocross star, life kicks in, bills need to be paid, and you just need a job. Any job.

Good old reality has a sneaky way of splashing cold water in the face of even your best-laid plans. Before you know it, you’re 38, have a mortgage, a family that depends on you, and you’re feeling trapped in a job that does everything but actually fulfils you. ARGH! What can you do?

Please don't panic; we have got you covered! The CV keys that will help you shake things up and rediscover the passion you had for your chosen subject, (or discover an entirely new career path) are your transferable skills and extracurricular activities.

Starting with transferable skills. These sweet spot personality-based and learned skills can be used to link any job to any other job. Think of the two most opposite jobs imaginable. I don’t know, let’s say: An accountant and a professional trumpet player in an orchestra. What do they have in common? Maybe not a lot at first glance, right?

If you delve a bit deeper, you might start to notice the similarities or transferable skills: They both need focus and clarity to succeed and avoid errors in their roles, they both likely have gruelling deadlines and need to be excellent at managing their time, they both regularly need to learn and absorb new skills and information, they both need to work harmoniously with others as a functional member of a team, and they both train and mentor junior colleagues. I could go on!

Transferrable skills can be found everywhere among the most unlikely of jobs. The key is identifying them and using them to reconfigure your CV in a way that highlights why you are indeed a good, logical fit for the role. The employer might not be able to work out why you, a pharmacist, would make a great firefighter at first glance, so you need to make sure the transferable skills are clear, ultra visible and that they jump up from the page and smack the hiring manager square in the nose!

The second thing you can use to ensure a successful career change is your extracurricular activities. If you can mention things such as being a volunteer, serving on a committee, fundraising for a community group, or having a professional membership relevant to your new career goal, it can be highlighted to pump up the chances of your CV piquing the interest of an employer. (Don’t be shy about mentioning your voluntary work either. Just because you didn’t get paid to do a job doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the skills you gained!)

Identifying and highlighting transferable skills and relevant extracurricular activities are two of the areas CV writers excel in. We often have clients contact us asking questions like: ‘I’ve worked in security my whole life, but now I want to work in IT. Can you help me?’ -or- ‘How do I make the leap from retail into the corporate world when I have no experience in that space?’

This is where the ‘creative’ part comes into Creative Fix. We dig deep with clients and pick their brains to uncover every skill they have ever used in their lives. Sometimes we even tip them upside down and shake them to see what falls out of their pockets!

If you feel like you have wandered so far off the beaten career track that you are now on a new planet, we urge you to make contact and let us get you back on course to a more fulfilling work life. We haven’t yet come across someone we couldn’t help clearly establish and present suitable transferrable skills.