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Is It Time For A Career U-Turn?

Many of us choose a career path only to realise later on that we’ve chosen the wrong path. The further down that career path you go, the harder it can be to turn back. Going backwards can make you feel like you’ve regressed and that wasted the last few months/years of your life. But sometimes it’s exactly what you need to do for your own happiness and health.

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It’s possible that there could be a previous career that brought you joy that is worth returning to. Alternatively, it may be time to return to education and get new qualifications to pursue a new career. Of course, you may not always have to go backwards - sometimes it’s possible to use your newfound experience to switch to a more attractive career path. This post can help you to make the right decision.

Should you return to your previous job?

This is what some people would consider to be a classic career u-turn. Generally speaking, we’re encouraged not to return to jobs we’ve previously left. After all, you must have left that job for a reason. However, sometimes the downsides of a past job can not seem so bad when compared to the downsides of a later job. It’s possible that there may even be perks that you took for granted. In this case, it’s worth trying to go back to a previous job.

Will my employer take me back? One survey found that a whopping 94% of employers would be willing to rehire past employees who left on good terms. Rehires (or ‘boomerang employees’ as they’re sometimes referred to as) can be seen as a valuable asset because they already know the ins and outs of the job and may already get along with you and previous staff. Of course, if you left on bad terms, it might be harder to negotiate with an employer to rehire you - but would you really want to work for a company after this?

If your past job was in a different industry and you have a desire to return to that industry, you could always look for a similar role to the one you had at your past job, but at a different company. For example, if you’re working at an accountancy firm and have a desire to return to working in a restaurant, you could try another restaurant instead of working for your previous employer.

Should you return to education?

It’s possible that getting on the right career path may involve having to return all the way back to school in order to get the right qualifications. For example, if you’ve got a chemistry degree but actually want to become a lawyer, you’re not going to be able to solely use that chemistry degree to chase a career in law. Going back to college and pursuing a law degree could be necessary to get you on the right path.

If you’re not sure whether your new career path requires new qualifications, it could be worth doing your research first to see what employers expect. Of course, you also need to be certain that you know exactly what career path to choose. Knowing when to use the Strong Interest Inventory test could be worthwhile - this test can help you to select suitable careers based on your interests. You could also consider working with a career coach. From here, you can then decide whether extra education is necessary.

Can you switch paths without going back?

Sometimes it’s possible to use the experience you’ve gained in the wrong career to switch to the right career. What is a good example of this? Perhaps you currently work in retail, but would love to work in a library. Getting a job in a book shop could be a happy medium - and a possible stepping stone to eventually working in a library. Qualifications can help when becoming a librarian. But previous experience in a job involving organising books could be just as attractive to employers. 

Some career path changes require making a more difficult leap. In some cases, it may be easier to return to education. However, you should always carefully consider the experience you’ve gained and how it may be able to help - there will often be some transferable skills and achievements gained within your current career that you can put on your CV to make you more attractive to employers in other industries.