Expert guides

Two expert guides on how to change careers, or achieve financial independence

Corrine Mills

Corinne Mills is a leading career coach, Managing Director of Personal Career Management, and the author of ‘You’re Hired! How to write a brilliant CV’ and ‘Career Coach’.

Kick start your career change

Daydreaming about making a career change? Dreading Monday mornings and wishing you had a job that was a little more challenging, fulfilling or rewarding?

Sometimes a promotion or a skills boost can be the breath of fresh air you’re looking for. After all, according to recent research from CIPD, 49% of British employees are either under or overqualified for their current positions and might benefit from a change of this kind.1

For some people though, a more radical shift may be in order. But switching careers at any stage in life can be daunting and the longer you’ve spent in your current job, the harder it can be to change direction. These three steps can help you get started.

Begin by setting clear goals. It’s not enough to vaguely want something different. To make a positive step forward start by reflecting on your current role and identifying the enjoyable, as well as less enjoyable, aspects to understand why you really want a career change.

Consider what exactly you’d like to leave behind and what you’d like to take forward. Then use these insights to create clear priorities for your next move. Having concrete goals and understanding the underlying reasons for a career change will shape the rest of your journey.

Top tip: Make a list of your priorities, strengths, experiences and unique selling points. Be honest!

Next, start to investigate different career options. It’s great to have a dream job in mind, but it’s important to understand the day-to-day realities of it – it may not be as exciting as it looks from a distance.

Try drawing on your existing networks to learn more about the role. Talk to family and friends about your goals and find out if they know anyone working in your target industry. Seeking out and attending sector-specific networking events, like conferences or forums, is also a great way to meet industry professionals. These individuals can provide advice on the day-to-day experience, how to break into the field and must-have qualifications.

Top tip: When networking, don’t just launch into a monologue about your goals. You’ll make a better first impression if you create a two-sided conversation and ask about their experiences.

It’s important to present any career change as a natural evolution rather than a radical change. To achieve this, try focusing on any similarities and transferable skills that can help to bridge CV gaps.

Say for example that you’re a teacher but you’d love to work in a museum. In this case, you’d want to show how group management and lecturing skills apply to running guided museum tours. On the other hand, if you’re an accountant wanting to move into the legal world, you could include any experience with contracts on your CV.

If there aren’t any clear career similarities, it might be necessary to gain more experience by taking an online course, working in voluntary positions in your free time or finding opportunities to build transferable skills within your current organisation.

Top tip: Internships aren’t just for recent graduates. They can be a way for anyone to build experience and test the waters of a new career.

Useful links

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Barney Whiter

Barney Whiter – The Escape Artist – is the author of a blog dedicated to financial freedom. He writes about making money work hard for you, rather than you always having to work hard for your money.

Your step by step guide to FIRE

In a world where people are living and working longer, the idea of early retirement has risen in popularity. Driven by millennials and online communities, the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement looks at how aggressive saving and canny investments can enable the goal of early retirement.

Financial independence means you never have to work again (but you can carry on if you want to!).

Getting there is a bit like building a house… yes, it’s a big job, but it’s possible if you take it one brick at a time. Small steps over time can add up to big results.

Here are three ways you can start the journey and take the steps you need to maximise your earnings, minimise your spending and look into ways you could grow your money.

The time it takes to get to financial independence depends on the % of your income you save. And, let’s be honest, it’s easier to save more on a higher income.

Everyone’s situation is different but, to get started, here are five simple ways you could earn more:

  1. Work harder – work overtime, get promoted
  2. Take more risk – for example, could you go self-employed?
  3. Do a job that others can’t – become more skilled
  4. Get a side hustle – could you start a small business alongside your job?
  5. Negotiate a pay rise

It’s up to you to take ownership of your career. You could start by trying for a raise at your current job. Maximise your leverage by working hard and walk into your next performance review with a competing job offer in your back pocket.

Or what about getting a lodger? Many people are rattling around in houses or large flats with spare rooms. You can earn £7,500 a year tax-free in the UK by renting a room out.1 Check out sites like

Escape artist hack

What if you could get paid to do something you love? Why not take a course at The Pop-Up Business School where they’ll teach you how to start a side hustle or small business? It’s free!

By itself, earning a lot won’t get you to financial freedom. You also have to save hard.

Begin by tracking where your money goes. After a month of that, attack your spending. Start by reviewing the larger items and working down the list to smaller impulse purchases.

Ask yourself some questions. Are you on the best mortgage rate? Are you on the best gas/electricity deal? Do you really need that second car? Why not cancel that cable TV subscription? Could you shop at a lower cost supermarket? Instead of a beach holiday, what about a staycation? Could you cut down on the takeaways and ready meals and prepare food at home instead? Why not turn down your thermostat by one degree?

You might think that more spending brings more happiness. But studies show that, above a certain level, additional spending won’t make you happy. Many people could cut their spending whilst becoming happier.

Escape artist hack

Could you drive to your European holiday destination rather than fly? If you have kids, this can save you thousands in school holiday season.

Or what about cycling to work? Cars are like money incineration units: the larger they are, the more money they burn. Bikes on the other hand are incredible frugality machines that give you great legs.

Now you’re saving, it’s time to look at how you might invest the surplus into wealth-generating assets (such as shares or property) that have the potential to compound in value over time.

It is much easier than you think to manage your own investments, but it does require some learning. Make sure you’re not paying too much in fees and expenses. The sooner you start this, the longer and the harder your money will work for you.

However you decide to proceed, remember to think long-term and consider the ups and downs of the stock market or property. Don’t forget to think about risk as well as return – and keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing.

Escape artist hacks

Do you even know what’s going on in your pension? Why not start by finding out. What are the fees? And what % is invested in shares (the asset class that has historically done best over time)?

To see how easy it can be to invest your own portfolio, why not open a practice account with The Share Centre – you can learn while investing “monopoly money” with no risk and no cost.

Get started!

These baby steps can add up over time to create amazing results. Remember: the most important thing is to get started!

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