Changing careers can be a daunting prospect. There are many challenges to overcome in order to successfully change careers. The challenges that have to be confronted often depend on a person’s circumstances and their motivation for seeking a career change. It may be due to dissatisfaction with your current career path or due to an unexpected redundancy. Redundancy presents its own difficulties and pressures. It can often mean a career change is forced on you as the industry you work in is in decline. Financial pressures can frequently lead to a decision to take the first job that comes your way without considering what is in your best interests in the long-term. If you are still in employment you will be under less pressure to find a job quickly, and can spend more time researching your options. No matter what the circumstances a careful and optimistic approach is needed to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. Remember, most people will change jobs or professions a number of times throughout their careers, often moving between different industries. It is a trend that is becoming increasingly common.

Although a career change is met by most people with great apprehension, it can also be viewed as an opportunity to find a more worthwhile, and fulfilling, occupation. Changing careers presents a lot more challenges than changing jobs, so before you make a decision about which career to move into, you need to consider a number of factors. The first step is to decide what new career you would like to embark upon. You should focus on where your talents lie, what your interests are, and what profession there is a realistic chance of transitioning into. Your decision should also be based on the career prospects available. The next stage is to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Identify what skills you have learned at your old job, and what skills will be transferable to your new occupation. 

Once you have narrowed down your search to a small number of possibilities you can begin researching them more thoroughly. It is important that you do not have an idealised view of the profession. Network with as many people as possible, the more people you talk to in the industry, the more realistic a picture you will obtain, and the more contacts you will build up in the process. If possible take up a temping position in the industry, or find some other way to gain work experience. This will add to your CV and give you first-hand experience as well. You must also determine what level of training or education you will need. An extensive period of retraining may not be feasible, depending on your circumstances. However, any career change will involve a certain amount of retraining and you need to accept this before you commit to a decision. You must also consider whether it might be necessary to relocate to another area in order to pursue this career. There may not be many jobs of the kind you are interested in, in your region. If it is not possible for you to relocate than you will have to reconsider your options. You should also be wary of spending too much time researching, and avoiding taking practical steps towards a new career. You will only succeed if you get out there and put in the time and effort to make your career change a reality.

There are many options available for people seeking a career change. Through our own Outplacement Programme ( we have assisted many individuals that were made redundant successfully make the transition to a new career. Since its launch in 2011 NIBRT, the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training, has retrained many people for careers in the pharmaceutical and bioprocessing industry. It provides a world class research and training facility that closely replicates a bioprocessing industry environment, offering a broad selection of courses that develop skills to make people industry-ready upon completion. Many of the courses have been designed in conjunction with NIBRT’s industry partners which includes Pfizer, Merck Sharp Dohme, Janssen Biologics and Eli Lilly. Springboard has provided a large number of free training programmes for the unemployed. Since 2011 it has offered 7,000 places in ICT courses. This has been accomplished in partnership with the ICT conversion programme. The ICT industry has been the fastest growing industry in Ireland over the last few years and there is great demand for the graduates of Springboard courses. These are just a few of the options available to someone who is interested in making a career change.

Just remember, it is normal to be apprehensive about such an enormous change in your life. So identify your transferable skills and the retraining that will be required, and contact a recruitment agency to help you with your search. Most importantly, remain patient and take practical steps towards your goal.

Niall Murray

Managing Director

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services