Why candidates will be changing careers in the next 12 months
A SEEK study has revealed 52% of New Zealand employees are considering making a career change in the future. With 37% looking to make the leap within the next 12 months and 33% in the next one to two years, we explored the most common reasons candidates are considering a career change and the motivation behind making the leap.

Career coach Faye Hollands of Outshine Consulting says recruitment processes and conversations often focus on leadership, culture, salary and location. These are important, says Hollands, but “they don’t address the fact that so many job seekers are desperate to find not just a new job, but a career path they’re passionate about”.

So what does career change actually mean, why do people want to change careers and what value do employers get by hiring candidates who are a leaving an old career behind?

What does ‘career change’ actually mean?

A complete shift in job role and industry was on the cards for 56% of people. One in four anticipated their career change would be in the same industry but in a different role. Only one in five thought they would stay in a similar role but within a different industry.

The main reason for wanting to change careers

The opportunity to increase earning potential was the main reason for people wanting to make a career change. Doing something more fulfilling and pursuing a passion were the next top reasons.

Wanting a better work-life balance, a new challenge, greater potential for career development, more job security and doing something less stressful were also reasons given for wanting a career change.

Looking to understand what drives a candidate to stay motivated and understanding how that can be incorporated into a position, team and organisation are critical to long-term motivation, says Hollands. “This helps significantly reduce recruitment costs and staff turnover when the right people are hired for jobs that give them longevity and true career satisfaction,” she says.

The challenge and the opportunity

While having to start from the beginning again or not having any experience in their new career was seen as a challenge for more than a third of people, there is an opportunity for employers to consider candidates who are bringing experience and expertise from previous roles.  “By being more open to candidates who have valuable transferrable skills and a high level of maturity, employers can widen the talent pool and give themselves much more choice to pick the right candidate for the role instead of just the right skills for the job,” Hollands says.

Men were particularly concerned (10% compared to 4% for females) about a potential decrease in salary, but this is an opportunity for hirers to openly discuss remuneration, in addition to opportunities for career development and work-life balance if the salary can’t be promoted.

Making the change

Doing further research was the way nearly half of the respondents said they would prepare for a career change. Some noted that they would ‘just do it’ and others would up-skill by participating in formal education or undertaking a course. Other people noted they would consider volunteering to ensure they had the necessary experience for a career change.

Employers can capitalise on those looking to change careers in various ways, such as by providing information online about the organisation and the varied backgrounds of its employees, providing links to reputable training opportunities or making it clear that there are opportunities for individuals to come in for a casual chat or to volunteer for a short time.

“I’ve been coaching clients on how to match what they’re passionate about with their skills and expertise in order to create a career they actually want to get out of bed for,” says Hollands. “You’d be surprised at how much effort people are willing to put in to achieve that. Give them the vision, and they’ll work a lot harder for you in return.”