A comprehensive guide to switching careers (with tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 May 2022

The decision to switch careers could arise due to several reasons. You may want to gain experience in a new field, apply transferable skills to a new role or find a better work-life balance in another industry. If you're looking to switch careers, it would be wise to seek professional advice on how to go about the process as well. In this article, we explore what a career switch is and provide a detailed guide on how to go about the process of switching careers.

Switching careers: definition

Switching careers is when you change your career path, sometimes without changing industries. It's a way to become more fulfilled in your work and to get the job you really want. For example, you could be working in the design industry and might want to switch over to business and become an entrepreneur or a marketer. You may choose to switch careers at any stage in your working life. It's important to consider all options to find a career path that is right for you. You might consider switching career paths to:

  • pursue your interest or passion

  • seek new challenges

  • work with more flexible timings

  • make an impact

  • make better use of your skills

  • earn a higher salary

  • reduce stress.

Related: How to explain your reasons for leaving a job to a recruiter

How to switch your career path

Career changes can happen for many reasons and they can provide you with new and fulfilling opportunities to learn and thrive. Below is a detailed 12-step guide to choosing a career path that fits your preferences and your values:

1. Evaluate growth and happiness in your current role

The first step towards change is to determine whether you're happy in your current job role and if it has provided you with the growth that was initially anticipated. Measure your expectations, your current job satisfaction and personal growth to understand if there are shortcomings and establish the reasons behind the same. Analysing these factors can help you reach the right conclusion and further help you decide on the next steps in your career.

2. Assess your skills, values and interests

Whether it's professional or academic work, assessing your skills helps you understand your strengths and weaknesses. It could be in the capacity of an internship, professional work or even assignments. Once you have assessed your top skills, align them with your interests, values and what you're most passionate about doing. This can help you understand what to look for in a future job and help you prepare better for what's to come.

3. Explore alternative career options

After assessing your skills, interests and values, narrow down your options for alternative careers. Internalise where you see yourself working, in which industry, company, your job role and position. You could also seek a second opinion by asking your friends, family members, peers and close colleagues what they think would be a good fit for you. Often, the people who surround you have a great understanding of your strengths and can help you decide the path to success. Another option that is worth considering is career counselling, where you could seek advice from a professional.

4. Look for available job opportunities

Explore the current market to see the options that are available in the field of your choosing. It's recommended to have a wide variety of job options to choose from in your list. You could explore the websites of the companies you have shortlisted to see the job openings, job requirements and what the role entails in terms of responsibilities. This may give you a better understanding of what to expect and whether your skills match the career path you intend to pursue.

Related: Best ways to find a job: 10 step guide to start your career

5. Identify skill gaps

After exploring the job market, you get a better understanding of the skill set required to qualify for your dream job. If your present skill set does not match the requirements for the job, there are several ways for you to acquire those skills before applying. There are multiple resources available online for you to refer to, which can help you enhance your knowledge and skills.

6. Acquire additional experience

Once you've listed the skills necessary to meet certain job requirements, you may look for the multiple ways in which you can get real-world experience. Whether it's in the form of an internship, shadowing an employee or a part-time job, it can contribute to helping you further your goal and help you test your knowledge and skills. You could also get in touch with professionals in the field and approach them for advice on the next steps to take.

7. Build a network

Building a network can be one of the biggest assets in your career. Through your network, you could interact with people in the career you aspire to pursue, get insights about the industry from them and some of the best practices for you to follow. Networking is also a great means to land a job as your peers are already aware of your work ethic and could serve as a great referral. It's easier to land a job from a referral than convince strangers to take a chance on you.

Related: 14 of the best networking strategies and where to use them

8. Update and tailor your CV

Before applying for a new job, it's necessary for you to take a look at all the documents necessary to apply. Tailor your CV to meet the requirements of the job you're applying for. Be sure to include specifics about your past work history as well as an updated list of your skill set. it's also advised to update your social profiles as a lot of companies go through them as an additional reference or background check. You could keep certain documents such as a cover letter and personal statement ready to explain why you're a perfect fit for the job.

Related: How to update your CV: A complete guide with helpful steps

9. Consider freelance opportunities

The best way to completely figure out whether a career path is right for you is by applying to available freelance opportunities in the field. Search for openings that fit your criteria and apply for short-term freelance projects. If you're considering several options, you could do this with multiple freelance gigs until you find one that fits you perfectly by sparking your interest and using your skill set.

10. Explore options in the same industry

Consider alternative job positions and roles in the same industry. Analyse whether the lack of job satisfaction arose due to the industry as a whole or a specific job role in particular. For example, if you're in the field of marketing and wish not to work as a content marketer, you could consider shifting to a different area of marketing such as performance marketing or experiential marketing. You could also consider switching companies and remaining within the same industry.

11. Consider turning to a mentor

If you have a mentor in your life who guides you with your professional and personal growth, this would be a great option for you to consider while shifting careers. If a mentor figure does not exist in your life, you could always consider getting one to help you make this decision and other important decisions in your journey. They can help you set objectives for yourself and help you grow personally and professionally.

Related: How to find a mentor: A useful step-by-step guide

12. Be determined

Switching careers might be a first for you and could be overwhelming. It's important for you to set realistic goals and timelines for yourself. If you encounter hurdles while you pursue your goals, remember not to get discouraged and give up. With the right amount of determination, patience and consistency, anything is possible. Switching your career and getting your dream job is just the beginning.