Five ways to get out of a career rut

21 October 2016
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Caivan Namvar certainly isn’t afraid of change. The 32-year-old spent four years building up a thriving bar and restaurant business before making the brave decision to sell up and follow his dream of launching a social media-inspired venture.

He now produces a regular podcast – OMG it’s Caivan – on which he discusses self-improvement techniques and sells his own branded products online. He has recently moved into vlogging and video production.

“If you were a sane person, it would be scary to make such a move – and my fiancée, Hannah, was freaking out when I told her my plans – but I had been through so many different businesses that it didn’t seem a big deal,” he says.

 

The father of one (pictured below), whose CV includes spells as a fitness instructor in Dubai, working in a record company, driving a taxi and even selling healthy home-made smoothies, was quick to recognise how dramatically social media is changing the employment landscape. The fact that it’s relatively inexpensive to enter the social media sector helped his transition. He already owned an Apple Mac computer. All he had to buy was a digital single-lens reflex camera and a drone. Online sources provided a fast track to acquiring the necessary skills.

“I use YouTube continuously, as it has so many tutorials for projects I’m currently working on,” he says. “I’m not a fan of physically attending courses if someone has already broken it down into easy-to-understand tutorials.”

His rapidly evolving business, which embraces various social media platforms, has now developed into video production. He has a varied client list that includes a martial arts instructor and music festival organisers.

“My goal is to be someone people turn to for media that helps take their businesses to another level,” he explains. “I want to produce their videos and then market them via social media, as this is the way everything is going.”

Caivan is part of a new breed taking advantage of technological developments, consumer trends and changing attitudes towards flexible working to carve out a career in fresh and exciting areas of the jobs market.

According to Sarah Archer, founder of Career Tree (Careertree.org.uk), the employment market is changing all the time. “Ten years ago, some of today’s jobs – particularly in technology and social media – didn’t exist,” she says. “If you’re focused, you can take advantage of these changes, and the internet helps you quickly become an expert on different subjects.”

Employers are waking up to the fact that people are demanding more flexibility. “The 20 to 40 age group seems particularly keen to have a better work-life balance. They don’t want to get stuck in the trap of working long hours and not having a life outside work,” she adds.

However, traditional job roles – such as switchboard operator, milkman, printing press operator and meter reader – are being replaced, says Sophie Graham, education and awareness coordinator at the National Careers Service. “Digital marketing managers, social media managers, bloggers, app designers and developers, technical architects and website content creators are jobs some people may have never heard of that are becoming increasingly popular,” she adds.

 

With almost all jobs now requiring some level of computer literacy, it has never been more important to have information and communications technology skills. Fortunately, plenty of courses are available in software engineering, animation and graphic design.

“The more research you do and the more support you receive, the better a decision you will make,” Ms Graham says. “Knowledge is key when it comes to career-making decisions, so make sure you research the roles available.”

Moving into one of these new areas may require new skills to secure a job – acquired via a formally recognised qualification or through online training programmes – or it can be a case of starting out on your own and learning as you go along. So let’s have a look at some of the new opportunities.

Social media manager

This is certainly one of the trendiest professions, and it is growing all the time – the number of social media users worldwide is expected to reach a staggering 2.95 billion by 2020, according to statistics portal Statista.

A social media manager is responsible for promoting and monitoring a company’s online presence. This requires a detailed knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram – although platforms are constantly changing.

Starting salaries range from around £20,000 a year to north of £75,000 for a head role in a large company. Many people have entered this area via other creative industries, such as marketing and journalism, although direct access is possible.

Appropriate qualifications include the Level 3 Diploma in Social Media for Business, but prospective employers will want to see evidence that you have successfully managed your own social media profiles.

Visit the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (Theidm.com) for more information.

Fitness and motivation coach

This is one of the real boom areas. Due to increasing public awareness about the importance of good health and physical fitness, there is strong demand for people with the knowledge and interpersonal skills to lead both individual and group exercise sessions.

Fitness instructors will generally gain a qualification via the Register of Exercise Professionals (Exerciseregister.org) or start work as an assistant instructor at a gym, according to the National Careers Service.

A starting salary is typically around the £13,000 mark, but this can rise to around £20,000 with experience. Many instructors go it alone and set up their own businesses, as they can earn about £20 an hour for freelance work.

 

Charity fundraiser

There is certainly no shortage of charities. Official figures suggest there are around 180,000, but the real figure will be substantially more when the myriad of smaller causes are added into the statistics. As a result, competition for donations is intense.

As a fundraiser, the nature of the job will depend on the type of charity you work for. For example, you could be setting up company sponsorship schemes, organising events such as charity balls or even managing door-to-door and street collections. Salaries vary enormously, especially as many smaller charities have very limited funds. Broadly speaking, full-time positions bring in around £20,000 a year, while £50,000 or more could be on offer for senior positions in larger organisations.

Passion for a particular cause is a great route into this sector, while the National Careers Service suggests you’ll need “creativity, drive and enthusiasm to motivate people to donate funds and come up with new fundraising ideas”.

Doing some voluntary work – visit NCVO (Ncvo.org. uk/ncvo-volunteering/) – is a good idea. You can gain formal qualifications via the Institute of Fundraising (Institute-of-fundraising.org.uk).

Computer games tester

If you spend every available minute playing on your Xbox or PlayStation, testing games for a living could be a dream come true. This is a fast-moving, multi-billion dollar industry that relies on a constant stream of new game releases.

The role of a tester, for which salaries start at about about £15,000 a year, is to play a game in as many ways as possible, test different levels, record problems, check for copyright issues and suggest improvements.

According to the National Careers Service, playing skills and knowledge of game genres, consoles and platforms are more important to potential employers than a CV full of formal qualifications. With experience, salaries can reach £30,000.

Visit Creative Skillset (Creativeskillset.org), which works with the UK’s screen-based creative industries to develop the necessary industry skill-base. Job opportunities are listed on Gamesindustry.biz and Datascope.co.uk.

 

Online retailer

One of the most remarkable developments over the past decade has been the growth in online retailers. At the last count, more than one billion buyers around the world were estimated to be purchasing everything from magazines to cars online.

An increasing number of job opportunities are now arising in start-up businesses looking for staff to process online orders. Alternatively, technology can be harnessed to help you set up your own online shop.

According to Rebecca Kimber, chief executive at Create, a Brighton-based website company, technological developments have made the process of building an online presence a lot more accessible in recent years.

It is also now possible to form closer ties between your own ecommerce website and established social media platforms, which makes it easier to put your products in front of people around the world.

“You can integrate with eBay and Facebook Shops,” she explains. “It means more potential customers see your products, so you may see an increase in sales. All this makes starting a new business more viable than ever.”

“It never ceases to amaze me what you can do when selling online”

Ady Henderson, 57, (pictured above) decided to set up a business when she came up with an innovative design for a laundry bag that can be used to wash, dry and store hosiery, lingerie and socks. Once it was in production, she decided to sell it online.

Despite not having a technology background, she set up an ecommerce site called HoldTightly (Holdtightly.com), from where she dispatches a variety of bags to her customers around the world.

The 57-year-old credits technological advances for making it possible to sell through her own website and insists this has helped make her business viable. It’s so successful, in fact, that she is now trying to break into the US market.

“People are used to buying things off the internet these days,” she says. “Also the large department stores want to see you have a proven track record, as they get approached by people every day asking them to sell their products.”

She insists it is far more convenient and flexible to run an online shop than it is a bricks and mortar version, as you can test the idea without the financial outlay and stress of renting premises and paying staff.

“With an online shop, you can choose to work full- or part-time – and even run it when you’re away from the office,” she says. “If you want to change the look of your website, you can do that immediately. It never ceases to amaze me what can be done.”

An online shop also provides the perfect way to market products without needing in-your-face, foot- in-the-door sales techniques. “I get on well with people, but am not pushy. To a certain extent selling is showing off, and I’m in an age group where you don’t show off.”

 

“I plan to franchise my fitness business across the South”

Former Royal Marine James Boardman (pictured above) spent years putting new recruits through their paces before deciding to use his background as a physical training instructor to improve the lives of people through exercise.

The 37-year-old entrepreneur set up Bodyshock Fitness (Bodyshockfitness.co.uk) after realising there was big demand from people in his home town of Bexhill, East Sussex, for help getting in shape for the mental and physical challenges of life.

And his gut instinct proved correct. The father of two enjoyed such a successful first three years that he is plotting an ambitious expansion plan that will see the model franchised across the country.

“I saw that so many people were stuck in a rut and wanting help to have healthier lifestyles that could add many years to their lives,” he says. “Many of them have dreams, but never do anything about them. That’s where we can help.”

Bodyshock, or BSF UK, now has 250 members paying monthly subscriptions to access more than 20 fitness classes every week at different times of the day.

He believes the demands on people’s time from work and personal commitments can make it difficult for them to develop healthy habits that can reduce their stress and improve their quality of life – and this is the core of his business model.

“We offer exclusive programmes for those committed and serious about improving themselves,’ explains James. “It’s all about educating, mentoring and motivating people to make important changes in their lives.”

As well as demonstrating exercises to get them in shape and offering advice on preparing and planning meals, he puts videos together suggesting ways of tackling problems such as anxiety and self-doubt, which he sees as obstacles to success.

Looking to the future, James wants to pass on his knowledge and experience to the new generation of personal trainers to help them develop their businesses and produce video content for their clients.

He wants to franchise his business across the South. “The idea is to build up a network of personal trainers that pay to access my time and mentoring, as well as the Bodyshock reputation, branded clothing and marketing tools.”

 

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