How To Successfully Change Careers

If you’re considering making a career change, the idea can seem like a daunting, even insurmountable task.  However, if you’re feeling unsatisfied in your career, sometimes starting over is the right answer.  But when you’re starting a new career from scratch, perhaps in an industry you’re unfamiliar with, where do you start?  While it can take some time—and a lot of hard work—making a successful switch is possible.  On your way to finding a more rewarding career path, start with these steps:

1. Evaluate

When thinking about how to change careers, it is crucial to start by assessing your starting point.  To do so, consider your skill set and experience; how might that translate into a new field?  Additionally, think about the aspects of your work that you like and dislike.  When you isolate the elements of a job, it can be easier to narrow down what it is you would actually enjoy doing.

As you evaluate, you’ll begin to understand what needs to be done in order to achieve your goal.  During this process, be sure that you keep an open mind.  Based on your current skill set or your goals, you may decide that you need continuing education, or perhaps that you should try transferring to a new department at your current organization.  If you’re feeling a bit lost during this stage, be sure to consult a friend or a career counselor who can help you figure out where to get started.

2. Plan ahead

Now that you have a clearer idea of what you need to move forward, it’s time to make a plan.  Keep in mind that a career change can take a lot of time and hard work.  As a result, you’ll want to develop a strategy on how you plan to take this leap.  When you break down the steps and make a schedule for yourself, this move will feel more conceivable.  As you formulate your plan, be sure to include:

  • Courses you may need to take
  • Any required certifications
  • Meeting with connections who may be helpful
  • Volunteering or interning
  • Updating your resume
  • Submitting applications

Once you make a plan, make sure that you stick to your goals—it takes a lot of hard work, but you can’t give up!

3. Network

When you enter a new field, it is almost impossible to achieve your goals all by yourself.  As a result, you may need to rely on your network for support.  Additionally, it is important that you put in extra effort to build new connections and seek out advice.  This may even include finding an expert or a mentor that can help guide you through the unique challenges you’ll face.  You never know who can offer meaningful advice or make a powerful connection for you, so be sure to ask for help whenever possible.

4. Adjust your brand

Once you feel ready to apply for job openings, keep in mind that your previous resume may not be as effective in your new field.  Whether your previous experience is irrelevant or your new industry values a different set of skills, some adjustments are likely necessary.  In addition to highlighting key skills and experience that show you have potential in this field, you may also consider adding an “Objective Statement.”  While this isn’t necessary for most positions, you can take the opportunity to explain your career change to a potential employer.

This may also be a good time to reach out to your network for help.  If you know of people in this industry, they may be able to provide additional insight into your applications that could greatly improve your chances of getting your foot in the door.  Plus, you may even want to consult a recruiter who is familiar with this field—they may be able to connect you with top employers that you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet.

5. Be humble

Remember that when you’re starting on a new career path, you’ll have to start at the bottom.  While you may be used to having more credibility, you may need to practice being more humble as you work up the ranks.  Not only does this mean admitting when you don’t know something, but also respecting those in the field you can learn from—some of whom might be younger than you.  The more you can be humble about your position, the more you can learn.