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Changing careers—how to be financially prepared

Changing jobs? Read our guide to budget for your career change.

6 min read

Changing careers can be a thrilling challenge—stepping out of your comfort zone into something new. Ahead of your career move there’s plenty to plan for, including the costs to finance your job swap. And while the current climate may seem slightly scary, you’re not alone in wanting a career shift—the average person changes jobs 5 to 7 times in their lifetime. 

Besides choosing which career you’d like to move into, it’s also important to consider your financial position and how this can be impacted. With our financial tips, you can understand how changing jobs will affect your funds, and manage them accordingly. So, if you feel a different career is calling, read on for our guide and get ready for a change.

A labor of love—self-evaluation

We all want to have a job that we enjoy and that offers fulfilment. But whether it’s the stress, the salary, the work-life balance, or simply fading enthusiasm, frustration can lead you to question your role and look elsewhere. Here are some practical tips to help you weigh up your decision ahead of making your career change. 

Keep a log of current working life

Note down the daily aspects of your job that you like and dislike. Recognize the recurring patterns and review previous successes—look back on prior roles, volunteer work, or projects where you felt rewarded. 

Assess your interests, values, and talents

By defining your skills, core values, and areas of interest, a beloved hobby could become a professional reality. Obsessed with sustainability? Look into green energy companies. Have a passion for fashion? Consider buying and retail. Great with animals? Dog walking could be for you.

Evaluate the alternatives

Decide if you want a similar role at a different firm, or a fresh start in a new trade that requires retraining (and funding!). Ask yourself whether you bounce off others in a team, or want to take that solo step into self-employment. 

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Funding a new 9-to-5—research

Now you’ve outlined why you want an occupation overhaul, it’s time to define your next steps. From reaching out to prospective employers, freelancing for a start-up, or finding the funds to retrain, a little investigation goes a long way. Use our 5-step guide to conduct your own research before changing careers.

1. Explore expected salaries

Some people are financially motivated, while others are driven by the love of the job. A simple online search will show you approximate salaries for the roles and industries you’re interested in. You’ll quickly get an idea of what the role pays, whether it’s minimum wage or bringing in the big bucks. 

2. Courses and qualifications

There’s a whole range of qualifications out there, from free online courses to college degrees. Identify what, if any, your role will require. If you need to keep costs down consider what can be self-taught, or ask family and friends who already have the skills you want to gain. College degrees range from being state funded up to €20,000 or more per year depending on where you study. It’s also important to consider the length of the course and the impact on your finances.

3. Professional certifications

Check to see if your chosen field has a professional body for industry certifications or vocational training. Basic or ‘foundation’ levels begin at €100, and intermediate level certifications typically range from €500 to €1,000. 

4. Gain experience to get your foot in the door

Working for free is difficult when you want to save, but is often essential to gain experience. Set up job shadowing, ask contacts in your target field for work experience, or do some volunteering. Alternatively, working as an apprentice is a great way to learn on the job while earning a small salary if they are offered in your field.

5. Use your contacts

Reach out to everyone you know, join employment websites, and sign-up for networking groups, to broaden your circle. Create a LinkedIn account to make further connections and widen your online reach.

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Planning for change—create your career change budget

From all of your research, you’ll now have a good idea of the expenses involved in changing careers. If you’ve decided to take a course or quit your job to focus on finding a new one, don’t be overwhelmed when the costs add up (or savings start to diminish). Here are our financial tips and tools to help you budget for the job switch.

  • Save and streamline—Write down all your outgoing funds and think how they can be reduced. Cancel the gym for now and take up walking. Switch utilities by shopping around for better deals, and cut-down on dining out. Small savings will build up.
  • Part-time and side jobs—Moonlight doing something that’s connected to your field, if possible. You want to be a clothes designer? Look for a weekend retail job. Creative copy is your dream? Apply for the local newspaper. Every euro earned is a euro saved, and even better—more experience gained.
  • Run the numbers—Once you know the cutbacks, the support and the extras you can bring in, work out how much you’ll save. 

A great resource to use is a budget worksheet or app, to manage your primary goals by cataloguing costs. You can receive notifications after each transaction, set spending limits to control your outgoings, and use them as a touch-point to review finances in real-time. See here for our full guide to budgeting.

Career change resume and cover letter—tailor your talents to promote yourself

So you need to promote yourself on paper? Make sure you stand out by writing a career changing resume and cover letter that sell your skills.

  1. Identify your transferable skills—Know what talents you can use from previous roles, and creatively apply them to the new role. 
  2. Write your resume objective—Highlight why this is the job you are seeking, and how you’re the right fit. Remember you are promoting yourself and your skills, with the target of attaining that job.
  3. Your cover letter—Download an online template and use this as a framework. Do your research and show your enthusiasm for the company. Emphasize your transferable skills and mention your best performances in prior positions. Use strong examples to illustrate where you have added value for previous employers and make sure your references will corroborate your skills. 

Once you’re done, proofread to make sure you’ve achieved your objective. To make sure you hit the mark, strip back and edit unnecessary information, watch out for jargon, and consider tone of voice. In order to secure your career change, your resume should promote your experience, your abilities, and get your name out there.

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Your money at N26

We know it’s daunting to leave your old role behind and change careers, but sometimes change is needed in order for you to grow professionally. N26 Spaces support you in meeting your savings goals to fund your career change. Whether you’re saving to pay off retraining loans or sitting on emergency funds while you find a new role, Spaces offers you up to 10 sub-accounts to stash your funds, set saving targets, and create Rules to automatically transfer funds into your savings when you say so.

Better still, N26 has partnered with world-class brands to bring you offers and discounts within the app. One of our partners, Blinkist, offers easily digestible non-fiction content so you can brush up on your new industry and get ahead faster.

How long does it take to find a new job?

Setting a time limit on finding a new role is difficult. Consider how long you can support yourself without a job, and also the time it will take to retrain if you need to. it also depends on whether you’re looking for a niche role, or a more general entry-level position. The best thing to do is apply for jobs regularly and look at editing your resume if you’re not hearing back.

How to find a job in a new city?

A quick internet search on job vacancies in your specific city will get you started initially. Different cities will have different networks, so be prepared to ask around and join employment agencies. Job platforms, such as LinkedIn, will allow you to make contacts in your new city, but also to apply directly for jobs.

How many times does an average person change jobs in their career?

Statistically, the average person changes jobs between 3-7 times in their lifetime. In modern times, career choices have multiplied (especially in technology), and this increase in options gives a wider breadth of choices for today’s workforce.

Which resume is considered most useful for changing or starting careers?

Whether you choose the chronological, functional or combination format, make sure that the resume works best for you and your experience, and relates back to the role you are applying for. If your most recent job offers the most relevant experience, then make sure it is at the top of your resume. If you want to move into creative industries, consider adding design elements to your resume to speak to your audience.

What do I say when changing careers?

What you say counts when promoting yourself to a prospective employer. Know your experiences inside out, be confident in your presentation, and push your achievements. Even though it may feel like you are stepping into the unknown, your previous experiences will undoubtedly offer value to your new role in some way. Demonstrate your willingness and ability to learn to show your new employer that you can pick up anything you don’t know quickly.

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