How To Change Careers: What Steps To Take

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 September 2022

Published 29 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's important to know how best to plan for a career change and what you need to achieve your personal goals. Don't think you can't consider changing your career just because you've trained in another discipline. In this article, we offer valuable tips on how to change careers and the most important tips to consider when you're thinking about a career change.

How to change careers

Nothing's ever achieved (or at least achieved well) without a strategy. We get it. Changing careers can be a daunting prospect. If you really want to get the new career of your dreams and keep it, it's important to break the task down into smaller, more manageable tasks. These steps include:

1. Assess your career experience and skills

You need a clear understanding of your strengths. Look at how far you've come in your career so far and determine your strengths and weaknesses. You'll have to personally evaluate how your skills measure up to the career options you're considering. Look for resources that identify the needed skills for your chosen pathway.

Statistical reports on the in-demand skills of different countries are published online periodically. Hunt them down to get a grasp on the leading 'career change' jobs to get an idea of which alternative professions might be a good match for your skills.

2. Search for new career opportunities

There are free job portals that anyone can access without paying a fee. So, even if some options might sit behind a paywall, others are available after user registration. To get the latest job openings as they're published, make sure you set up email job alerts. Pay special attention to the skills listed for the opportunities you're after. Make a list of the skills that are in demand and highlight your educational or skill-based gaps to address later.

It's helpful to keep an eye on the fastest-growing jobs in the sector you're interested in. For example, if demand is scaling up for a particular position, the role will not only remain in need in the foreseeable future but will also keep challenging you as the new field grows.

3. Find additional training

Make sure you have time to complete your training before you start applying to roles. And be sure to take advantage of any training opportunities that arise at your current workplace, too. After all, they're typically offered at no cost to employees.

Sometimes, there might be free options that you can explore when looking to get training or acquire new skills. Several MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are provided for free by reputable universities and organisations worldwide. Some positions, such as those in the medical and education fields, require specialist training or government-regulated certifications. Try to find out what the requirements in your sector and plan that study time into your career change schedule.

4. Update your CV

A CV update is recommended after you've acquired a new set of skills, completed training, or are beginning your job hunt. It's essential that your CV is structured in a way that's appealing to your target market. Don't shy away from hiring professional help if you think you need it to craft an impressive-looking CV. Remember that different jobs require different types of CV, and if you're looking at changing careers to a role you've had no prior experience in, restructuring your CV to a skills-focused CV may help you prove that you're a good candidate for the role.

Your CV is the first impression an employer gets of you, aside from checking out your socials. As they browse your CV, they're looking for clues that tell them you know what you're talking about. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the type of experience and character employers in your sector might be looking for and consider how your skills can be outlined to show your suitability for the role.

5. Make a transition plan

Spend some time crafting a plan to move into your new career successfully. As we mentioned above, don't sell yourself short by not having the proper training or necessary hands-on experience. Remedy this by seeking short internships, volunteer opportunities or weekend work.

And don't forget that you can add new experiences, whether it's training or work, to your CV even while you're doing it. This way, the bridge to your new career will be evident to employers before you even start job hunting. Even if it's not a stated rule that industry experience precedes an excellent job, it can give you an advantage in competitive roles.

6. Stay positive about your decision

It's important to keep a positive attitude when you've made the decision to change careers. Self-doubt is a common occurrence in people who decide to change careers, particularly when they make that decision later in life. It can be easy to get bogged down by thoughts about being 'too old' or too entrenched in knowledge specific to your current role to pursue a new one. However, it's never too late to change careers, so while these thoughts may crop up, remember to not let them affect your decision-making.

Stay positive by focusing on what you stand to gain in a new career. Remembering why you want to switch careers in the first place can be helpful, such as wanting to obtain more satisfaction in your job or wanting to move into a field that's important to you. When negative thoughts appear, be proactive in focusing on the skills you know are transferable to your new chosen career pursuit, and try not to underestimate your abilities or question your readiness.

7. Expand your network

Before starting your job hunt, take some time to consider how to expand your network. Your next job might not come to you through a recruiter or job board. There are many professional groups you could join online to start mingling with key influencers in your sector. Explore social media groups and check out business forums. Focus on those groups that have a lot of members and are active. And don't forget to look offline, too. Networking meet-ups, interest clubs and professional speaking engagements all offer an opportunity to rub shoulders with the greats in your desired industry.

Don't discount the fact that networks matter in today's world. If you're given a chance because someone recommended you, it will make all that time and energy spent on building connections well worth it.

8. Use an incremental approach

When you're building your career experience in a new area, it can be wise to accept reasonable, albeit potentially less lucrative, offers. Over time, as your reputation grows, you can be sure better offers will come your way. If you accept an offer from a start-up, for example, you might not get all the perks that a Fortune 500 company would offer. However, if that same start-up gains ground and wins significant markets, you're likely to be first in line for a pay rise.

However, whatever the job offer is, be sure that your salary is of an industry standard by verifying what the typical salary expectations are for your new job. You can check this information by browsing online resources or asking others you know in the profession for their experiences.

Tips on how to change careers

To change your career, you'll need to gather some valuable resources. Whether you're a manager seeking director-level roles or a woman looking to get into the tech sector, the first step is to understand the most common reasons for seeking new opportunities.

These might include:

  • Better remuneration. The desire to earn more is a legitimate reason to seek a career change. Remember to consider the job perks and benefits package of a job when considering whether or not to accept the salary on offer.

  • Relocation to a new environment. Today, more people than ever are seeking new roles in greener pastures.

  • Change in your circumstances. Life can be unpredictable, and some people have to grapple with this reality in their life. A divorce, the loss of a loved one, or a disability can lead to the pursuit of a career change.

  • Career advancement. At a particular point in life, the need to pursue career advancement can necessitate opting for something new. More opportunities to climb the corporate ladder or a clearer trajectory can be the catalyst.

  • Self-fulfilment: For some, it's hard to experience the satisfaction of doing what you love when you're stuck in a desk job. Moving on to a new career might be the motivation you need to thrive in your career.

Related:

  • How To Make a Career Change at 40

  • How often should you change careers? (Benefits and tips)

  • What You Should Know About Changing Careers (Plus Tips)

  • How to change careers from engineer to finance jobs

  • How To Write a Career Change Cover Letter (With Examples)


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