When did you start your current career? For many professionals, the career they’re in now is the same one they settled into when they first entered the workforce. While many people are happy to continue on this path, others may not be so satisfied. For those professionals, finding professional happiness can mean moving to a new city or finding a new role in the same industry. However, in some cases, the key to unlocking professional satisfaction could mean making a career change.
If you feel like making a career change is the right answer, you may also feel intimidated by the prospect of doing so. After all, career changes can often be long, expensive, and exhausting. There may even be times during the process when you ask yourself if you made the right choice or question whether the risk is worth it. If you do start doubting yourself, keep in mind that your professional career is long; you may as well take the time to ensure you’re happy throughout the course of it!
If you’re currently thinking about making a career change, continue reading for what you need to think about and the steps you’ll eventually need to take:
Why you should make a career change
Any career change is going to be difficult, so you need to prepare yourself for the road ahead. Therefore, it’s important to put a lot of thought into whether or not making a career change is indeed the right option. Before deciding whether or not switching careers is the right choice, you should consider the following:
- How your goals have evolved since you started your career
- What the job outlook in your current industry is
- Whether or not you’re experiencing career burnout
- How fulfilled you feel by your career
Depending on your answers, a change in careers may be your next step. However, you should also consider if what you need is actually just a job change. If you’re still unsure of whether you need a job change or a career change, go further and ask yourself the following:
- Does your current work environment suit you?
- Is the company culture at your current job bad?
- Would you be just as unhappy doing the same work but at a different company?
After reflecting on your answers to these questions, it could lead you to the conclusion that you are in fact in need of a career change, and that it’s time for you to begin the process of making the transition.
You’re going to make the change – now what?
Now that you’re certain you want to make a career change, it’s time to decide what exactly you want to transition to! If you’ve already figured out what you want to do next, great! However, if you haven’t gotten that part figured out yet, there’s no need to panic! Remember, making a career change can be a lengthy process with lasting results, so it doesn’t hurt to take some extra time to decide what you want to do.
The truth is, there could be several careers you’re interested in pursuing. If this is the case, there are four ways to figure out what the next best step is:
- Assess your skills and strengths: the first thing you should do is take some time to figure out what it is you do best and what you would bring to the table in a new career. Do you flourish working independently or in a team-setting? Are you adept at looking at tasks on a macro- and micro-level? Knowing what you excel at can help you narrow down your options when making a career change!
- Ask your friends for their thoughts: When you’re in a career rut, it may be difficult for you to have a fresh perspective on what your best options are. Because of this, your friends may be your most valuable asset in making a final decision. They’ll be able to give you different and trustworthy opinions on what your next move can be.
- Don’t be shy about networking: Let’s say you do have a couple of ideas narrowed down at this point. If this is the situation, consider going to networking events targeted to relevant fields and industries. It will help you connect with like-minded professionals who already work in that industry who can give you insight into what their professional life looks like, helping you decide whether or not that is something you want to pursue. Additionally, it can help get you an in at a company you’d eventually want to work for!
- Don’t get discouraged!: Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if you’re feeling a little more indecisive than you thought you would. This is a big decision and, as a result, you’ll want to take as much time as possible to ensure you’re making the right decision, both personally and professionally.
Train for your new career
Now that you’ve gone through an extensive research process, you’ve finally decided on the career you want to pursue and it’s time for the hard work to begin. In order to make a career change, you need to begin training for the career that you want!
The bad news is that the training you’ll need to complete when making a career change can be both expensive and time-consuming; this is a process that can often take multiple years to complete. The good news, however, is that you may not have to start completely from scratch!
As you look to make a career change, it’s important to think about skills you’ve mastered in the past. Also known as transferable skills, these are the capabilities that are both necessary and beneficial to know across different industries. Once you have identified what those are in your case, you can look to the skills you’ll want to build on and strengthen as you look to make your next career move.
Also keep in mind that, just because you’re the one making a career change, it doesn’t mean you have to go through the process alone. Instead, make sure you’re connecting with people in your new industry who can give you guidance and insight into your new field.
In order for you to complete your training, be sure to check off the following:
- Sign up for training courses
- Evaluate your transferable skills and work on building the skills you still need
- Begin to pursue certifications if your new career calls for them
- Find a professional mentor in your new industry
Prepare for interviews with your career change in mind
Now that you’re nearly completed with or finished with your training, it’s time to finally get your new career started! Once you’ve worked on your new resume and cover letter, it’s time to prepare for the interview. Unlike most interviews you’ve been on in the past, this one could have a much different tone to it than you’re used to.
In the eyes of a potential employer, a candidate who is in the midst of making a career change is going to be a larger gamble than someone who already has experience in the field. Because of this, you’re going to need to know the right way to sell yourself in order to not only assuage any fears, but to also prove to them that you’re worth the gamble.
But how do you position yourself as the right candidate for the role when you’re likely up against other candidates who already have experience in the industry? Because of a widespread skills shortage across multiple industries, many employers know that their best hiring strategy for long-term success is hiring for potential over skill. This means that employers are placing more emphasis on soft skills and candidates who will fit in with the company culture. For example, being able to demonstrate you’re skilled at learning and adapting quickly to new situations could give you an edge over more experienced competition. Additionally, using the opportunity to discuss the initiative you’ve taken to make this career change shows a hiring manager that you will work hard to overcome any learning curves.