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  • Jenny Handley

Break the task of changing career into manageable sections

From Jenny Handley’s ‘Raise Your Game’ Column (Career Times, Cape Times)

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live”. Flora Whittemore, author. I am a Mathematics teacher - 38 years of age - with 10 years teaching experience across all grades, 8 - 12. I have no desire to continue teaching and want to follow an alternative career path. I am a Bsc. graduate (majoring in Biochemistry and Microbiology) and have an H.D.E with methods in mathematics and Life Sciences. My previous work experiences include working as a technical consultant in the Food and Beverage Industry, Laboratory Sales Rep and as a Team Leader in Sales and Marketing. Ann Werner, professional career adviser, suggests: It is reasonable to say that people are likely to change their careers (not necessarily jobs) 4 – 6 times in their career cycle. Many people are feeling similarly frustrated. Embarking on a complete career change might seem a daunting task and therefore, it is useful to break the task into manageable sections. Working through your own career process may include the following:

  1. Assessment – develop a greater understanding and awareness of yourself. Focussed, holistic analysis will prove useful as could specific psychometric assessments. Explore your unique set of skills and abilities, your ideal work environment, and value set, your personality and how it relates to the type of work that is of interest.

  2. Investigation – research to better understand your market, and what careers / jobs are out there. How do they match up with your particular abilities, needs and desires? Network, contact industries of interest, discuss options, look at pros and cons, weigh up options grounded in the reality of the SA context.

  3. Preparation – hone in on the specifics and find your niche. How are you going to sell yourself to get that job you desire? It’s a stage of setting goals, adopting a success-oriented mindset, and fine tuning your action plan.

  4. Commitment – you have probably come closer to that tipping point of realisation of what is right for you. You will be equipped to make the decisions you need to. Interestingly, this is ordinarily not a cognitive conclusion but usually comes from a realisation of your intrinsic values. It’s a time for focussing your energy and keeping your eye on the target!

Only once you have discovered your strengths and your competitive edge can you then being to market yourself and aim for work that you will love. Brand strategist jenny Handley, is co-author of the business and self-development book Raise Your Game. For more information e-mail

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