Starting a New Job

How to Change Careers

June 11, 2021

If you are stuck in a career, or you are simply looking for work in another industry, you need to ensure you have all the information you need to ensure the shift is successful. Changing careers also involves other people such as your family, and you will need to ensure they are well-prepared for the move. Approaching the change incrementally ensures you get it right for you and your family. In this article, discover the common signs you may be due for a career change and the steps you need to take to make the change as smooth as possible.

What is career change?

A career change involves taking on a role that is different from your work experience. It refers to the movement from one job group to another. There are different types of career change such as horizontal, vertical, job redesign, or exploratory change. People change careers for various reasons. Some of these include:

  • Poor relationship with co-workers
  • Company downsizing, closing, or restructuring
  • Desire to earn more
  • Your contributions not valued
  • Feeling you are not a good fit for the company
  • Ineffective leadership at work
  • Job relocation

The reasons vary from intrinsic such as desire to earn more and extrinsic factors such as company restructuring. Regardless of the reason, knowing the signs that you are due for a career change is important to avoid getting stuck in an untenable situation. Here are the telltale signs that a career change could be the right move for you:

  • When you feel your current job is not offering any new challenge and you would like to learn more
  • When your close associates seem to have more exciting jobs than your current position
  • When your current supervisor and co-workers do not recognise your contributions
  • Achieving work-life balance in the current position is becoming harder
  • When you have attained the highest pay ceiling in your career path
  • When you don't want to do the same thing for the rest of your life
  • When your skills and abilities could be more impactful than they currently are

All these signs do not need to happen for you to start planning a career change. Either of them is a trigger for career change.

Related: 17 Interview Tips to Help You Get the Job

How to make a career change

Here are the steps you need to take to make a successful career change:

1. Determine your skills

After deciding that you need to change career, begin by assessing your skill set, interests and values. Outline your best skills and determine how they would fit in your desired destination. Many careers place high value on skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, collaboration skills and problem-solving skills. Evaluate your work experience and what skills made you excel in those positions. To reduce uncertainty and increase your confidence, you might consult a career advisor to help you determine your most suitable career path.

2. Draw a list of possible career paths

Having analysed your most valuable skills, it is now time to create a list of the careers that may need your combined skills and experience. An ideal list of 5-10 would provide you with broad selection and possibilities. You could also take a career assessment test to determine your most appropriate course of action.

Read more: How to Make a Lateral Move

3. Conduct jobs research

With a list of possible career paths, perform an in-depth research about every job in your list. Your research could cover areas like:

  • Must-have skills required for the job
  • Minimum educational requirements
  • Average salary including earning potential
  • Work environment
  • Job outlook

Establishing the status of the above factors will help you narrow your list further by eliminating jobs that do not match with your skills, education or remuneration.

4. Evaluate what you need

The jobs remaining on your list may require distinct skill set, education or certification requirements. Evaluate what each job would require and whether it would be possible for you to acquire the requirements. Determine the resource outlay required to meet those requirements including education and certification costs, relocation, commute time, including any trade-offs you would need to make. Make a conclusion on what career path you would like to take based on your skills, experience and resources you need to effect the switch.

5. Devise an action plan

Having decided on the most feasible career path, create a plan of action on how you would execute the change. Draft a plan showing the steps you need to take such as enrolling in college, earning a certification, or getting a license. Indicate how much time it would take you to achieve each of the steps.

Your action plan should also identify any risks and obstacles that might derail goal attainment. Knowing the obstacles helps you in planning overcoming them to avoid surprises along the way. You also become more focused.

6. Monitor progress

The journey toward any goal requires frequent monitoring of the progress. Tracking how much progress you are making on your career change action plan helps determine whether you are on course to achieve your goal or not. For instance, assess whether you have earned the desired certification within the time you had pre-determined. Tick off the areas where progress has been made and note the lagging areas. Draw a strategy on how you will make up for the shortcomings. Monitoring your progress helps you get motivated.

7. Create an online identity

Many employers are using the internet profiles of job candidates to determine the best fit for open positions. As you prepare for a career change, build an attractive online career brand. List the keywords employers use in job descriptions to increase your appeal. You might also include highlights of your most notable achievements from your past roles. It would also be important if you consider deleting controversial social media posts that may affect your likeability.

8. Update your resume

Since you are starting all over again, you may need to craft a resume from scratch. Bring out your best skills, the proudest achievements, and qualifications to stand out to the recruiter. There are many resume formats you may choose, however, the functional resume format is the most recommended for a career change. Tailor your resume to fit into the job you are applying and ensure the resume is error free. Dispatch the resume in the prescribed method and wait for interview invitation.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Functional Resumes

9. Utilise your network

Networking is becoming an effective way of landing jobs. Go through your list of personal friends and professional contacts to see who might help hasten your career move. They may also link you to someone they know in the industry. You might also need to attend professional forums and career fairs to learn more about the career path and get important connections.

Related: Guidelines on How to Network

10. Send unsolicited emails

Having obtained the necessary qualifications for the career path you want, you might widen your search by sending cold emails to potential employers. Research about the company from its website, press releases and insider information. Getting the company details plans right helps you write an attention-grabbing application.

Career change tips

Here are tips to help you change careers successfully:

Involve others: Changing careers is more than a personal decision. While there may be temptation to go solo, involving other people such as your mentors, family, and career counsellors helps you reduce inertia, makes you accountable, and you also receive the support you need.

Shadow potential careers: Identify career paths and shadow those roles to establish how much satisfaction you derive from them. Shadowing allows you to learn more about a job without taking too much risk, such as leaving your current position.

Use informational interviews: Set up informational interviews with people already in the job you would like to change to. Informational interviews would be helpful for advice such as how to enter the field, current trends, the best certification courses, and what skills employers are looking for in job candidates.

Embrace flexibility: Career change calls for greater flexibility in many areas, such as job location and salary expectation. For instance, you may to accept a lower salary for a start despite long work experience. As you prove your capability, the figure may improve considerably.

Be patient: Much as you deserve it, you need to be patient as career change may sometimes take time to meet the desired expectation. In the end, you will feel it was worth the wait and effort.

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