Starting a New Job

How to Start a New Career in 8 Steps (With Helpful Tips)

November 2, 2021

Whether you're entering the workforce for the first time or considering making a career change to a different role or industry, it's essential to know how to navigate this transition. Learning how to start a new career can help you better prepare for this exciting change. Once you've learned how to get started, you can focus your time and resources on excelling in your new role. In this article, we explain how to start a new career in eight steps, discuss what to know before starting a career, and share some tips for getting started.

Related: How to Change Careers

How to start a new career

If you're curious about how to start a new career, know that it's important to have a strategic plan to help you achieve success. Here are eight steps to help you navigate the process of starting your career:

1. Make a list of your interests and talents

Create a list of your hobbies, skills, and passions. Consider anything you enjoy doing—even if it doesn't seem related to a traditional career. For example, if you like spending time outside, cooking, or helping other people, list what you find fulfilling about each of these activities. Note any themes or patterns on your lists to help you find a suitable career match. Identifying your talents and hobbies can help you uncover what you're passionate about and which careers may suit you.

Related: "I Don't Know What Career I Want": How to Find the Best Job for You

2. Consider your career preferences

Determine the type of job you want and what you want out of your career. Knowing your career aspirations can help you determine the kind of education you require and the types of positions to apply for. In addition, consider your preferences regarding a job's commute time, location, average salary, and typical work schedule. Identifying these criteria can help you to prioritize your choices and help you narrow down your research.

3. Review your qualifications

Every job in the workforce requires specific skills and qualifications. Before you pursue a career, consider your education level and your abilities. You may consider jobs that align with your current credentials, or you may be required to develop your skills and achieve additional qualifications so that you can be successful in a new job. Assess your skills by considering your strengths and weaknesses. If you find self-analyzing difficult, consider asking former colleagues or a friend that knows you well. Once you're aware of your weaknesses, you can take steps to improve them.

4. Research industries and careers

Consider researching jobs and industries that align with your qualifications and interests. For example, if you love science and helping people, consider a job in the healthcare industry. Use an online search engine to research industries and employment across different sectors. Read job descriptions to learn more about each position's responsibilities and required skills to help you determine if you're qualified for the position. You may also consider speaking directly with professionals in the field and asking them questions to gain additional insight into a specific career.

5. Consider volunteering or interning

Consider becoming a volunteer or intern to provide you with further insight into a career or industry. Research opportunities online or talk to someone at your university's career center to learn about various intern or volunteer positions you might find interesting. Keep in mind that most internships or volunteer opportunities don't offer you monetary compensation. They may provide you with valuable experience that can be beneficial in future endeavours. In addition, interning or volunteering allows you to shadow working professionals and ask them about their jobs. Hearing about their experiences can help you make a well-informed career decision.

6. Find a mentor

Connect with a working professional in the industry that has sparked your interest. Establishing a professional relationship with someone in your prospective field can help you gain valuable insight and advice based on their personal experiences. Consider researching industry professionals whose work you admire or whose jobs you find interesting. Then, connect with them via email. A mentor may even connect you with other industry professionals who can help you establish your career even further. Having someone willing to teach you what they wish they had known at your current stage in your career is invaluable.

Related: How to Find a Mentor Step by Step

7. Pursue the right qualifications

Once you make a career choice, research the standard requirements for the job you're interested in. Some jobs require specific degrees or certifications. After your research, spend time pursuing the common qualifications for the position you want if you don't already have them. Some employers may allow you to begin working as long as you're actively pursuing a qualification at the time of employment.

8. Apply for positions

After pursuing the common qualifications for the job you're interested in, research open positions. Once you find jobs that align with your qualifications, apply online or in person. Keep in mind that different companies may have additional requirements for the same job title. Therefore, carefully review the description for the job you're interested in to ensure you meet the specific requirements for that role. Prepare for interviews by researching potential questions and answers for the specific position for which you're applying.

Related: Tips for Successfully Navigating Your First Day at a New Job

What to know before starting a new career

There are some preparations that you can do before beginning a new career. If you adequately prepare for this new phase of your professional career, you can increase your likelihood of being successful. Three preparations to consider before starting a new career include:

  • Writing a strong resume: writing an effective resume that best highlights your skills, experience, education, and accomplishments. A well-organized resume tailored to the job you're applying for gives you a better chance of securing it.
  • Strengthening your transferable skills: strengthening your soft skills as they're valuable in a variety of industries. Developing transferable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership, and adaptability can help you find success in pursuing a different job in the future.
  • Remaining teachable: Although you may have completed your education or onboarding, remain teachable and eager to learn and develop throughout your career. Employers look to hire employees who are willing to learn on the job.

Tips for starting a new career

Here are some tips that you can use if you're starting a new career:

Be open to new opportunities

No matter what stage of your career you're at, it's beneficial to be open to new opportunities. Although you may have specific plans or expectations for your career, know that it's okay if your plans change. Professionals switch careers all the time and find success and happiness in their new roles. If an opportunity for a new job comes along that you're interested in, consider what you may lose and gain from inquiring about the position. Do some research and ask questions to uncover more information so that you can make an informed decision before taking on a new role.

Follow your curiosities

Passions are often fleeting, so it's best to follow your curiosities. Following your curiosities entails noticing what continuously draws your attention and pursuing it. For example, if you constantly find your mind meandering to cake recipes and cake designs, you may want to consider working as a cake designer. Dedicate some time to something you're curious about to ensure that it's a genuine interest. If you're still considering the curiosity after some time, it may be time to find a career that matches this topic. Your curiosity may introduce you to career possibilities you may not have previously considered.

Stay proactive, patient, and positive

When you're seeking work, try to be proactive and patient. Take the initiative by contacting companies to see if they have any job openings that aren't listed. Send a cover letter and your resume explaining why you want to work for the company and that you're qualified to do so. Remember that finding a job can take some time, so try to remain patient and enthusiastic throughout the process. Retaining a positive mindset may increase your chance of getting hired because positive people tend to come across as confident and enthusiastic, traits that many employers look for in candidates.

Consider innovative approaches

To stand out to potential employers, you may want to consider innovative approaches to the hiring process. Most candidates seeking a new job go through the same routine of updating a traditional resume and submitting it to various companies where they're interested in working. Many companies are beginning to realize that resumes aren't an accurate depiction of many candidates. Consider a story-based approach, such as creating a video explaining who you are, your credentials, and why you're the best candidate for the job. Also, consider making a website that includes all of your information and portfolio.


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