10 simple and practical steps for starting new career paths

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 April 2022

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.

Changing jobs or starting a new career can pose a new and exciting challenge for even the most experienced professionals. Changing careers requires a serious amount of self-reflection regarding your experiences, areas of expertise, hard and soft skills and interests. Before switching careers, it's important to create a carefully considered plan of action. In this article, we explore what things are important to consider when switching careers and go through 10 simple steps for starting new career paths for anyone looking to get into a new line of work.

What to consider when starting new career paths

If you're considering starting new career paths, it can be helpful to carefully assess your reasons for wanting to make the change, and why now may be the time to do so. This can make the process easier to manage and can help you find the career that's right for you by identifying your vision. With this vision in place, you can start taking practical steps towards a career change in a manageable and logical way. Here are some things to consider if you're thinking about switching jobs, no matter what your age, background or experience:

Why are you thinking of changing careers?

You may have several reasons for changing careers. Maybe you're seeking something more meaningful, looking for a better work-life balance, looking to challenge yourself or even looking for a higher salary. Whatever your reasons, carefully consider each of them and rank them from the most important to the least to help you visualise your progression.

Related: How to successfully achieve a career change at 50

What resources do you have ready to help you change careers?

Whether it's previously obtained credentials, financial backing or even childcare, it's important to think about the practical resources at your disposal that can help during this time of change. Considering your current resources can help you lay out a practical plan for the switch. For example, you may decide to either keep your current job or drop to part-time while you work to establish your new career.

Related: Why you may need a job counsellor and how to choose one

What credentials are necessary to change careers?

Considering what you need in terms of qualifications or credentials is an important part of planning your career change. If you plan on pursuing a role that requires certification or a degree, you may want to take the time to undertake this additional education and training. Thinking about what credentials you have, and what credentials you're willing to pursue, can help you decide which careers are realistic to pursue, given your previous experience and the resources you have available.

10 simple steps for starting a new career

Once you've carefully considered the factors that may affect your career switch, it's time to create an action plan. Here are 10 simple and practical steps you can take to begin the process of changing career paths:

1. Make a comprehensive list of your skills and education

Beyond understanding the credentials you may need for a career switch, it's important to create a detailed list of the education, hard skills and soft skills you already possess to identify those that may be useful in your new role. Think back to the roles you've had throughout your career so far and consider the experiences that are transferrable to your new role. Then, match your list of skills and accomplishments to the skills and credentials needed to excel in your new job to get a better idea of what skill gaps you can address.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferrable skills for any industry

2. Research your new career choice

Researching your potential new vocation can help you anticipate challenges that may arise in your transition. This can include reaching out to companies whose values resonate with your own for industry insight, taking free online introductory courses in the subject you're interested in or reaching out to online communities that focus on your chosen industry. Contacting actual people in your new field is the best way to get answers to both general and specific questions you may have, and the best way to get a real, honest account of the role.

3. Establish your support networks

Whether it's financially, in terms of child support or simply making sure you regularly talk with friends and family, establishing your support networks before a career change can make a huge difference in the long run. For example, it's important to establish whatever financial foundation you may require, what kind of childcare you may need and what kind of emotional support you have around you to make the transition smooth. A career change can affect many aspects of your life, so making sure you have the support you need can help retain order.

4. Look into professional associations

Joining professional associations associated with your new career choice can help you connect with the community surrounding your new chosen industry. These associations can offer you an insider view of current trends and news, present you with future colleagues to network with and provide insight into different educational or developmental opportunities. Often these associations offer a wide range of services and privileges for their members that can help your career get off the ground, such as links to development workshops and networking events.

Related: Networking tips for jobseekers

5. Shadow other professionals

Getting a first-hand view of a typical workday in your potential new career can help you definitively decide whether it's really the right fit for you. Using your newfound connections, you can enquire about potential volunteer or shadowing opportunities to get a first-hand idea of what an average day or week looks like. Shadowing can also be a way to meet your contact's co-workers and possibly gain further insight into how you can look for a similar role.

6. Reach out to accommodating companies

Some companies in your prospective industry may offer opportunities for those starting out in the field, and these organisations are worth approaching for the experience they can share. These companies are those that put a value on great transferrable skills, finding the right 'fit' for their company and catering to new perspectives and ideas, rather than on qualifications or hard skills. Not only can these companies potentially offer shadowing or volunteer opportunities, but they may also have permanent positions available.

7. Share your story

Reaching out to companies is an excellent way to help you transition between careers. Making sure that these companies have access to you and your story can help build trust. There are several ways to cater your online presence to your new pursuits, such as updating your social media accounts, personal website and job search accounts. You can use your existing platforms to give context to your work history and explain why you're a great candidate. In many cases, this method of displaying your experience can be more engaging than a traditional CV.

8. Try career transition coaching

Career transition coaches can both help you identify an alternative career path based on your current experience while remaining open to new, exciting opportunities. By employing a series of personality and skill-based assessments, a coach can pinpoint your strongest assets and help you align these to the best possible role. They can also help you understand your underlying motivations to help you find a fulfilling and satisfying career.

9. Prepare for the unexpected

Your initial plans may need altering or amending at some point during your journey. You may encounter a parallel qualification necessary to begin your career, such as a first-aid certificate, or find that employers in the industry prefer candidates who have completed a certain amount of volunteer hours in the field. Finding a mentor who can offer insight and guidance as you enter the industry can be very beneficial. It is also good to prepare for a longer transition by ensuring you have savings or backup options for work while you secure a steady position in your new field.

Related: How to make a career change at 40

10. Maintain patience and positivity

Changing careers is rarely as easy as pinpointing the passion that led to your need for change in the first place, and remaining realistic and patient during this transition is crucial. You may wish to quit your current job and put all of your efforts into this exciting new challenge, but this may disrupt aspects of your support network. Although it may seem appealing to jump at any job in your new field, take your time to carefully consider if it actually offers all the things you're looking for.

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