A Career Change Conversation

Published by mpume on

A Career Change Conversation with Lusanda Jiya

A career change is defined as “a change to a different type of job from the one you have been doing.” For many people, one of their most disturbing times in their life is when they have to make a career change, whether that involves leaving your current job into another industry or leaving the corporate world altogether to start something new of your own. Like any big decision in life, a career change comes with its own headaches, and emotional uncertainties. Any kind of change is difficult, it is frightening, and the thought of you possibly disrupting your life as you have known it, is cause for anxiety. But that’s not to say it is impossible, a career change is possible if you put your mind to it and you master how to sell your skills and the value that you can bring.

In this particular career change conversation, I had the privilege of speaking to Lusanda Jiya whom I have known for a very long time. Lusanda is now an Independent Consultant with a special focus on Stakeholder Management and Entrepreneur after working in the public and private sector in varying roles. She spoke to us about how to identify and use your skills and strengths across the job or career changes. Her first career was as a high school teacher, after two years of teaching she went back to school to study full time and then went to teach at tertiary.  After that she joined the government at national level as a special assistant to the then national MP of education. The opportunity to contribute to a bigger picture sounded appealing to Lusanda, thus she was motivated to leave teaching and join government. From there she moved to other fields outside government as she believes that change is her way of discovering who she is. She shared some very insightful tips which have helped her in the journey of changing her career.

Reasons why people change their careers

We can all agree that when you are starting out in your career, you probably feel passionate about your work and feel like you are ready to change the world. But after some time of working, you realise the work just isn’t what you thought it would be. It just doesn’t feel right anymore. A majority of career changes take place because of a number of reasons. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons below:

Better income – We all want more in life, a better salary is often a big reason people decide to move on from their current career or industry into another.

Better work-life balance – The career landscape is always evolving, as people become aware of the options available out there, they leave their current careers to find something with more work and life balance.

Appreciation and recognition – A lot of dissatisfaction among career changers comes from the fact that most people do not feel valued in their current organisation and the next best thing they do for themselves is to look for new opportunities, where they feel they will be appreciated.

Career opportunities and advancement – It is only natural that as people, we desire to be better. So when people feel like they are not going anywhere, or they feel stuck in their current career, with little opportunity to advance, they jump ship.

Toxic work environments – It’s bad enough when you hate your job, but what about if the general environment is just toxic. Toxic workplaces can lead to stress, anxiety, and serious disruptions in your normal life. Such a work environment can breed unhealthy competition, low morale, negativity and really push one to change their job.

Some tips to help you get started

It is not always easy to take a leap of faith, as a result most of us hesitate to invest our efforts into something we are not sure will be worth it. But let’s look at the tips below to help somebody out there get started.

  • Evaluate your current job/situation – Assess if your dissatisfaction in your current job are related to your job description, the company culture, your boss, or your colleagues.
  • Assess your skills and interests – Determine whether your core values and skills are addressed in your current career so that you know what you want your new career to look like.
  • Volunteer in the field or industry – Identify volunteer and freelance opportunities related to your field or industry of interest. 
  • Spend some time job shadowing –Shadow people in fields of your area of interest to observe and experience the work first-hand.
  • Take a class to upgrade your skills – Look for ways to develop new skills which will open doors for your desired career change.
  • Search for informational interviews – Reach out to your networks in the field of your interest for informational interviews, to help you gain firsthand information about the field, the industry or the person in that field.
  • Widen your network – “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn. Getting out of your comfort zone will help to nudge you towards gaining the confidence, the clarity, and the courage you need to venture into new territories.
  • Trust your inner voice – When the time is right for you to move one, your gut feeling will inform you, trust your instincts and go for it.

How does one market their skills for a career change?

Wanting to change your career is one thing, how you ensure you sell your skills to your prospective employer effectively is another.

One of the first steps to selling your skills is knowing what you have to offer. Once you have a better understanding of what you can and want to bring to the table, you are in a better position to share that with potential employers. The more you understand your strengths, the better prepared you are to communicate how you can add value and benefit the organisation. The key is to think about how you can apply your strengths to your new industry.

Secondly, people sometimes fail to identify skills they can transfer into their desired career change. According to Lusanda, there is no skill you have learnt in a previous setting  that becomes useless in another job or industry later. Check what transferable skills you have demonstrated in your current or previous roles and how they might benefit you in the new industry, – that is at the core of any career change. Remember to focus on those skills that are actually strengths, as you will want to continue using them in your new career path.

In conclusion, know  that everyone’s journey is unique. While people may share some similar career journeys, you have to decide as an individual which specific steps will enable you to launch into your new career. Like I have already pointed out above, trust your gut feeling to walk away from something that doesn’t bring you joy, and go pursue your “happiness”.  The road ahead may start off bumpy, but the end is more rewarding. Nothing is more fulfilling than doing something that is more meaningful. Also, embrace your new journey. Sometimes as one embarks on their new career path, you find that you become your own worst enemy, you criticize yourself so much that you feel handicapped. Learn to be your number one cheer leader and enjoy the journey. No one is perfect, even those who have been in that space longer than you are still learning new things.


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