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Career Change Hacks: Budgeting, Transition Management and Ensuring Success

August 8th, 2019

Stuck in a job that just isn’t you? Ready for a career change but not sure what you want to do, where to go, or who to ask? This guide will help you get ready for making a career change by first making sure your decision is the right one, and then by showing you how to budget for everything from managing new work expenses to upskilling and educating yourself. 

Why a career change? 

As much as you would like it to, the knowledge of your best career path doesn’t magically drop into your brain the day you finish your education. Instead, your knowledge is built up incrementally via a process of trial and error. 

Every position you take is a way of testing a career path hypothesis. Much like a science experiment, not every hypothesis will turn out the way you expected. 

Before you know it, you can feel:

Energy depleted and bored – Having to drag yourself to work every day is a clear sign that your current career isn’t working for you. You feel worn out on waking, worn out when getting home, and you dread tasks coming your way instead of enjoying the challenge. 

Apathy – Checking out and working on autopilot or constantly wishing you were somewhere else is another clear sign that change is in order. No longer invested, you function at your job well enough, but you just don’t put care into what you’re doing. 

Jealousy – Feelings of jealousy can be a key directional signal that you’ve veered off the career path you thought you wanted to be on. You feel green with envy every time a friend talks about working outdoors or tapping into their creativity, and you realise you want what others have.

If these feelings (or any other constant negative feelings) ring true, there are two things you can do. First, figure out what’s fixable. There’s no denying that changing careers can get expensive, so if you think your feelings are down to aspects that could be changed, get specific.

Ask yourself:

  • Is your dissatisfaction the result of the job itself, or are there certain components that are draining you? You could be struggling with the subject matter you’re working on, the commute, the environment, annoying coworkers, or a demanding boss – and these components might be an easy fix.
  • Are there elements of your career that you love? If there are activities, people and environments that give you an energy boost in the day or certain topics you find fascinating, it could be that incorporating these elements more could improve your overall career happiness. 

Once you’ve carried out this exercise, take the answers to your questions and see if anything else aligns. Let’s say you work in an office as a business advisor and that your one joy each day is making a gourmet sandwich in the lunchroom. Are you better suited to a career in food? Could you take your experience in business and your love of food and turn the combination into something great? If yes, then accept it’s time for a career change. 

Budgeting for a career change

Budgeting for a career change is crucial. Without budgeting, the prospect of going broke could lead to being the obstacle that stops you from following your dreams. 

Budgeting for a career change is your financial cushion, but building up your financial reserves is only part of the equation. To get your budgeting right, take these steps:

Step 1: Calculate your costs

Estimating the cost of shifting to a new career can be the difference between a smooth fiscal transaction and a personal budget crisis. Things you’ll need to consider include:

  • Do you need a degree to launch your new career? If yes, add up the costs of tuition, books and fees. If you’re giving up your job to study, you need to include the cost of daily living expenses. 
  • Do you need extra credentials for your new career? If yes, calculate the costs of testing fees, classes and required meeting attendance, or ask your current employer if there’s any CPD support available.
  • Is it worth becoming a member of a trade association? Networking is critical when you switch to a new career, and joining a society or trade association can be worth the cost to get to know people in your desired field. 
  • Are there any benefits you’ll be giving up? If your current employer provides health insurance, superannuation, a laptop or a company car, you’ll need to factor in these replacement costs. 
  • Does your new career choice require a change in wardrobe?  Changing your wardrobe from corporate to casual or visa versa or saying goodbye to a uniform can get costly. 
  • Will your job search require travel? Going to interviews and dropping your CV off can add to your everyday travel costs, not to mention the costs associated with a longer commute or any relocation that might be required. 

Step 2: Prepare your foundation

Create a savings account separate from your regular savings and one that you can’t remove funds from easily. This is especially important if you frequently find yourself tapping into your savings for non-emergency spending. It will also help you to see how close you are to achieving your goal by removing your savings from other saving goals like a house deposit or holiday. 

A good target would be to save for your calculated costs plus three to six months of your bare minimum monthly expenses in case your search takes longer than expected. Set up a direct debit if you think it will help you to regularly save. 

Step 3: Increase your income stream

Finding extra odd jobs or taking on additional projects can help to bolster your financial cushion ahead of your big change. Try to time your change to the months after summer and tap into the part-time, seasonal and temporary jobs in the months before your new journey begins, or make use of online opportunities by taking online surveys that pay cash, becoming a virtual assistant, transcribing audio clips, teaching English online, starting a blog or writing articles for blogs and websites. 

Step 4: Cut costs

You might be earning more money with your projects on the side, but that doesn’t mean you can still keep spending the way you normally enjoy. A new pair of shoes, dinner out with friends, cocktails at your favourite bar – it all adds up. 

The best way to cut costs quickly is to make a budget. Make it as simple as possible, crunch the numbers on every predictable monthly cost, and then add 15% for those unpredictable costs. This will be your ‘fixed costs’. The less money that has to go towards your fixed cost fund, the more you’ll be able to save towards supporting your career change. 

Step 5: Align your allies

You might be worried to share your plans of leaving with your boss and colleagues, but getting your family and friends on board with your career change decision will help you stay accountable. Let them know that you’re planning a career change and not only can they tap into their networks and keep an ear out for any jobs that might be suitable, they’ll be more understanding when you say you won’t be spending a fortune on holiday gifts or dinners out. 

Step 6: Pay down debt

Lowering or paying off your debt will help you to focus your energies on finding your next job instead of worrying about your next payment. The good news is that with Nimble, you can pay out your full loan early at any time during your loan schedule. The even better news is that Nimble doesn’t charge fees for paying off a loan early. With this in mind, you could take out a Nimble loan to consolidate your debt and then pay off your Nimble loan whenever you are ready. 

The rose-coloured spectacles of a career change can sometimes lead to career change mistakes. To avoid such blunders, hold yourself accountable for what’s in front of you and:

Avoiding common career change mistakes

Don’t wait until it’s too late

Waiting until you are desperately unhappy in your current situation is not ideal. The goal should be to get out before this happens or find ways to reclaim power until you leave. If you don’t, you’ll end up running away fast without having a clear idea of your next move. Repair broken relationships, build more respect, find your voice, grow your skills and watch yourself become more competent. Leaving in this manner will have you confidently walking into your next career with your head held high. 

Research financial options

If you don’t have the savings to support a completely new career that might take time to build, get to know the financial assistance that’s available to you. The chances are that you can’t go from making $75,000 a year in one career to replicating your income in another and having a plan to relieve financial pressure during this transition is important. Check out the Frequently Asked Questions for taking out loans and get to know the application process. 

Dig deep

Really explore the reasons behind your career change and the skills you’ll be bringing to it. The more exploration you do, the more informed your decisions can be. Remind yourself that once upon a time you thought the career you’re in now was the one for you and that certain elements can change your thinking. Identify the aspects in your new career that could spur similar feelings of dissatisfaction and then take action to work around these. 

Don’t give up

The transition to a new career is not meant to be easy. Good things really do require a bit of hard work and sacrifice. Understand this, give yourself a financial cushion and keep persisting until you reach your goal. Throw in the towel too quickly or settle for a job that’s only somewhat aligned to your preferred career choice and you could find yourself embarking on another new journey down the track. Get it right this time and save yourself the heartache and expense down the line. 

Tips for entering your new career

Starting a new career can be scary. You’re entering a new environment, getting to know new people and learning new processes and skills. In order to succeed, professionally, socially and emotionally, follow these tips:

1. Perfect your personal brand

From the moment you provide your CV, to your first interview and first day on the job, personal branding matters. Downplay the importance of first impressions and you risk starting off on the wrong foot. 

Remember that your first 90 days on the job are often treated as an extension of the interview process, so use every interaction as an opportunity to prove that you’re professional, respectful and a diligent worker. Take every interaction during this time as an opportunity to learn, grow and perfect your personal brand. 

2. Understand that trust is earned

After the disappointment you felt when realising your last career wasn’t working, you might want to tick all your boxes immediately in your new career. Tread lightly here. Trust is earned and when you prove yourself by showing up every day and doing your job well, the rewards will come and you’ll get what you’ve been looking for. 

3. Set healthy boundaries early on

While it’s important to prove yourself in the early months, it’s also important to set healthy boundaries in regards to your work. Clarify what is acceptable and what’s unacceptable when working back late, clearly define the hours you’re willing to work and learn to say “no” gently when needed. You don’t want to unwillingly set expectations you don’t plan to keep. 

4. Choose your work battles wisely

You might be happy to be entering a new career, but others around you might be in the position you once found yourself in. Chances are you’ll encounter plenty of frustrations, concerns and conundrums from your new colleagues, and to maintain your sanity and productivity, try not to get involved. If you do involve yourself, pick your work battles wisely. 

Ready to take the plunge into a new career and need a little financial help to get you through the transition? Borrow up to $5,000 with Nimble and your journey to a new career could start in as little as 60 minutes once approved. 

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