Changing careers can be a daunting task, but it can also be one of the most rewarding decisions you make in your life. Life is about finding the intersection of what you really love, with what you’re really good at. As simple as this sounds, sadly, it is really not that easy to find.
In this complete guide on how to change careers successfully, I will be providing you with practical tips, expert advice, and useful resources to help you navigate through the process of switching careers and achieving your career goals. So whether you are an old professional in your 50s, or you just want to make a drastic career change, or whether you’re a college student looking for that first job, or you are a young professional with some years of work experience and wants a job where you don’t have the requisite experience, this blog post is for you.
Let’s get right into it.
Complete Guide on How to Change Careers Successfully
The good news is you have the ability and it has never in the history of the world been easy to make a career change, especially with all the resources that we have to help educate you and get you going in the right direction. The problem is most people don’t have a plan, which I’m going to give you today. Changing careers is common with immigrants, locals, and adults in different countries and if you’re looking at making that switch to another career entirely, you need to start by writing out your future goals, doing your research, doing a career/skill assessment, not limiting yourself to just one career option, making a plan, networking, identifying your gaps and work on them and changing your mindset.
If you’re someone who has been wanting or trying to transition into a different job or industry altogether and you’re still finding yourself stuck and unsure of how to go about doing that, then follow me as I’m going to share with you detailed processes on how you can get started in transitioning out of that job or industry, into the one that you really want to get into.
Three things to know before you make the move.
- Continuous Learning: When it comes to your professional life, continuous learning is crucial. If you’ve lost interest in learning and professional growth, that should be a major warning sign that your future prospects in that industry may be limited.
- Trust your Instincts: Making a career change is often a decision based on intuition. If you find yourself unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling and thinking about the possibility of making a change and feeling like you can’t ignore it, then it’s important to trust your instincts. This could be a sign that it’s time to pursue that career change and explore your options.
- Short-term pain: If you’re considering a career change due to not liking your boss or certain colleagues, that is not a good enough reason to make a drastic change. It’s important to remember that changing careers often involves starting from the bottom, which means a temporary reduction in salary or job title. Moreover, experiencing some level of pain or discomfort in any job is inevitable.
So now that you’re convinced that it’s time to change your career, lets delve into the complete guide on how to change careers successfully.
1. Write our your Future Goals
Make sure that you really want this. This might sound silly, but there’s a huge difference between a passing fancy and a burning desire. Most people fail not because of their ability, but because they don’t have a good plan in place and they haven’t really thought it through about whether or not that career or that change is going to align with the things that make them happy. So, the first step you should take is to visualize where you want to see yourself in 10 to 15 years time, what you want to do, what skills you want to have, what new things you want to learn. Write all of that down because that is where you would develop your career transition plan basically. It sounds simple, but very few people do it.
2. Do your Research
Doing thorough research is a crucial element in successfully changing careers. It involves gathering information on the industry, company, and role you’re interested in pursuing. This includes understanding the current job market, identifying job requirements, researching companies, and learning about potential career paths. You can conduct your research through various means, such as online resources, informational interviews, job shadowing, and attending industry events. By doing your research, you can make informed decisions and take actionable steps toward achieving your career goals.
3. Discover the Capabilities Important for Success in that Position.
For instance, let’s consider the case of a salesperson. Knowing how to effectively sell a specific product, service, or item is a specialized skill that is acquired through experience selling that particular product. Although this skill can be easily taught, top-notch salespeople can exceed selling any product or service. They possess fundamental skills such as exceptional leadership, organizational, and communication skills. They are skilled listeners who can proficiently connect the dots for their clients or prospects and demonstrate how their products or services can benefit them. They possess a profound understanding of psychology, which is a foundational ability that distinguishes exceptional salespeople. These skills can be cultivated to turn an average salesperson into a great salesperson. Additionally, researching individuals who are currently working or have worked in that role is an excellent way to obtain these abilities. There are numerous methods to accomplish this, but the goal is to develop these capabilities.
4. Anticipate the Struggle and Plan for it.
It’s remarkable how people often strive to visualize success. You frequently hear individuals say things like, “Well, just imagine yourself successful”. However, this notion is flawed. Merely imagining oneself as successful is insufficient. A more effective method of visualizing yourself toward success is to anticipate the struggles you are about to face, prepare for them by seeking advice from others, researching the desired change, and developing a plan to overcome these obstacles. By anticipating yourself persevering through the struggle, you can be better prepared for the challenge when it arrives. Consequently, if you are more prepared for the obstacle when it arises because you foresaw it and knew it was coming, you will be more successful in overcoming it.
5. Know what that Job and Industry is looking for
Getting this step right is crucial as it sets the foundation for how you’re going to approach your job search. Therefore, it is important to comprehend what the job requires. The job description will include specific duties and tasks that you must perform, as well as the knowledge and skills required for the job. You must be well-versed in all of these requirements and be completely honest with yourself. Ask yourself if you have any experience that is remotely similar to what the job demands. For example, if the job requires report writing, and you have prior experience with report writing, then that’s an excellent match between your current experience and the job requirements. On the other hand, if the job necessitates specific technical knowledge, and you have never studied or gained such knowledge before, such as in a programming job that requires programming experience, then you must be realistic about the skills gap and consider how to bridge that gap, such as taking additional education or training. It is important to understand the differences and similarities between what the employer is seeking and what you possess. Most importantly, you must identify what skills you already have that match the employer’s requirements.
6. Identify your Gaps and Work on them.
After conducting your research and identifying the gap between your current skill set and the requirements for the desired job or industry, the next step is to build a bridge to close that gap. Many people make the mistake of assuming that they can easily transition to a new job or industry without proper preparation, but in reality, bridging is essential. A bridge refers to anything that you can do to acquire the necessary qualifications or experience that the job requires before you apply. This might involve pursuing education, taking relevant courses or certifications, or gaining additional experience in a related field. By doing so, you will be better prepared for the position. Another way to build a solid bridge is to consider taking on a “bridge role.” This is an intermediate position that lies outside your current role but closer to your desired job or industry. Although it may not be your dream job, it will allow you to gain experience and develop the skills necessary for the position you ultimately want.
7. Conduct a Career/Skill Assessment.
The main focus in this step is on self-assessment. You need to evaluate yourself and ask questions such as “What skills do I possess?”, “What experiences do I have?”, “What have I learned in school that is relevant to the job or industry I am interested in?” Even if you don’t have any work experience, you can still consider your academic experiences and identify transferable skills. For instance, if the job requires report writing, you can think back to your undergraduate or master’s program where you may have prepared similar reports. It’s crucial to keep track of your skills and experiences that align with the job requirements. Take an honest look at yourself and try to identify what you have to offer. With the right mindset and approach, you’ll discover that you possess many valuable skills and experiences that can be useful in the right job opportunities.
8. Stay on the Lookout for New Postings and be Diligent about Applying.
Attempting to change to a different career or industry is not a simple task, and I want to be honest with you by saying that it will require a significant amount of time. It’s not a quick process like moving laterally from one job to another where you’re doing the same thing in a different company. Making a career change is a massive undertaking that needs careful consideration, and there are many factors to contemplate, such as those discussed in this article. So when it comes to job hunting, you need to be strategic and choose the appropriate opportunities to pursue. Look for bridge roles or the next logical step in your career path, not necessarily the dream job you want in five years. Keep an eye out for job openings and pounce on them as soon as possible, submitting your application promptly, because the earlier you do this, the higher your chances of being considered. Diligence is key, and you must apply early and quickly.
9. Ensure you Tailor your Resume and Interview Answers for every Position.
When you’re applying for a role, you need to tailor yourself to that role as much as possible. what does tailoring mean? it means on your cv, your resume you need to structure that cv and resume using the right vocabulary, the right phrases, the right tasks, the right bullet points, so that you are aligned to that opportunity when it comes to interviews. same thing if it’s not written it’s more verbal, but it’s the same idea where you are matching yourself up to the position that’s available as much as possible. so you need to understand the strategies on how to do that you need to understand that there is a strategy that if you want to make that leap from one position to the other that there’s a way to get there but you have to know the strategy. you can’t just hope and pray that it’s going to happen.
10. Do not Burn Bridges.
One important piece of advice for successfully changing careers is to not burn bridges. While it may be tempting to quit a job or leave a company on bad terms, doing so can come back to haunt you in the future. Building and maintaining professional relationships is crucial in any industry, and you never know when you might need a reference, a recommendation, or even a job opportunity from a former colleague or supervisor. It’s important to always be professional, respectful, and gracious, even if you’re unhappy with your current situation. By leaving on good terms and maintaining positive relationships, you’ll not only preserve your professional reputation but also open up opportunities for future success.
Having a mentor or a support network is essential to building a successful career. Networking, which involves seeking advice from others, is an effective way to gain insights and guidance. With technology, it has become easier to connect with people and seek advice on a potential career change. Being eager to learn and open to advice can attract great mentors who are willing to offer their time and expertise. Therefore, it is important to put yourself out there, meet new people, and build a supportive network.
12. Be Open to and Ready for Change
This requires a willingness to learn and adapt, as well as a mindset that embraces new opportunities and challenges. It may also involve taking risks and stepping out of one’s comfort zone. By being open to change and preparing yourself for it, you can better navigate the transition process and increase your chances of finding fulfillment and success in a new career path. If you haven’t changed jobs not just once but a few times, you’re behind the times. Changing jobs can be a strength. It can be an asset in your professional development. It can show that you’re flexible, adaptable, resilient and that you have creative problem-solving abilities.
13. Change your Mindset.
Instead of thinking short term, it’s important to adopt a long-term perspective when it comes to building your career. The traditional notion of career progression as a linear ladder is outdated. Rather, it’s more akin to a monkey bar or gym, where there are multiple ways to move forward. For instance, if you’re interested in a particular role, you don’t necessarily have to start in that exact position. You can first enter the industry and gain experience, and then transition internally to the role you desire. This may involve taking a pay cut or even stepping down in position in the short term, but if it aligns with your long-term goals, it can be a worthwhile investment in your career.
14. Make Meaningful Connections.
Despite all the theoretical and emotional aspects, building genuine connections through actual conversations can be a practical way to achieve success. Despite the abundance of online job boards, 85% of jobs are still filled through personal connections and referrals. It’s no surprise that having someone who knows you can recommend and potentially hire you. That’s why it’s important to connect with people in person and engage in conversations. Seek advice, ask questions, and let people know what you want to do so that they can think of you when opportunities arise. Start by having a coffee or a meal with someone whose job or activities intrigue you or someone you’d like to know better. This can help you start a conversation and build valuable connections.
How to Change Career Paths with no experience
If you’re asking how can you can change careers with no experience, here are tips that could be useful for you. Let’s begin.
1. Recognize your Transferrable Skills
The first step I’ll recommend when changing careers with no experience is to recognize your transferable skills. Changing careers can seem intimidating at first, but in most cases, you’re not starting from square one. Start by assessing how qualified you are for the new role by reviewing two to three jobs. Take a look at the required and preferred skills in the job description. Keep an eye out for those transferable skills. These are the non-technical skills that can easily apply to new jobs. Don’t neglect to share your soft skills with employers. They’re actually quite valuable.
2. Set a Goal for the Next Step
Now that you have recognized your transferrable skills, it’s time to set some goals that are going to help you get there. The length of your transition plan is based on the education needed, time to gain new skills, relocation timeline, if applicable, and if you plan to take any time off between careers. I also recommend breaking down your long-term plan into smaller benchmarks. To do this, create a monthly breakdown of the steps you need to take to become a qualified candidate in your new field.
3. Upskill in Gap Areas
After devising your plan, the next step is to start developing your skills – a process known as upskilling. The aim of upskilling is to refine or gain the skills that are vital to your desired job. To determine which skills are needed, refer to the job advertisement that piqued your interest and review the required and preferred skills section. Look for any gaps in your skill set that need to be filled to make you a stronger candidate. You can also use free tools like Indeed Certifications to research the requirements for the role you’re interested in. It’s also important to ensure that your resume is updated to reflect the skills that are related to the industry and role. Going back to school to gain skills may also be an option. Consider this in cases where the career you want is unrelated to what you’re doing currently, and it requires in-depth knowledge and training to be a suitable candidate. While having strong qualifications isn’t always a substitute for work experience, employers may be more likely to take a chance on an entry-level candidate who has a solid educational background.
4. Gain Experience
Employers like to see a demonstration of skills, even for entry-level positions and there are many ways to gain experience that don’t involve participating in formal educational programs. A great way to gain and demonstrate your skills is through personal projects. This shows that you’ve got the skills required for the work you want to pursue and it also shows you have an incredible amount of initiative. It tells employers you’re so passionate about the work that you want to do that you spend your free time doing it. Taking free or discounted courses through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), can be incredibly beneficial to self-learners. These courses allow you to showcase the new skills you’ve learned, which can be one of the most valuable things you can show an employer. Consider choosing courses that have a project built into the curriculum. If that’s not an option, conduct a personal project based on the course that you’ll be able to highlight in your portfolio or resume. Another way to demonstrate your experience is through freelance work. For many careers, especially creative ones, you can prove you’re capable of doing the work independently and getting paid for it. Freelancing your work means you’re getting paid to gain experience, and that’s a win-win. Volunteering is another way to gain experience that you can showcase on your resume. Look within your own community to identify opportunities to gain work experience. Volunteer work can also help you refine soft skills like time management, creativity, and teamwork.
When you’re interested in changing careers, you want to let people know–the right people. Networking is a key component of the job search process, no matter which industry you want to work in. It begins with having conversations with people who might be able to help you find roles in your areas of interest. Here are some strategies to consider to help you get started:
Reach out to your personal network
You could ask your friends or colleagues who have jobs that interest you or work for a company that hires for those positions to inform you when they come across any job openings.
Conduct informational interviews
An informational interview is a conversation with someone who works in the role, industry, or company you’re interested in. This is a 20 to 30-minute informal conversation that allows you to learn more about a professional’s daily experiences and the qualifications that helped them get the job. It also gives you the opportunity to get expert advice, like tips on how to find a similar position and ways that you can prepare for the role or interview. The more informational interviews you do, the more likely you are to build real connections that could translate to professional recommendations later on.
So make sure to be friendly and appreciative during these conversations and focus on learning about the career and connecting with the people that you’re talking to. Networking is not a skill that often comes naturally or immediately feels comfortable.
5. Cover Letter
When switching careers, I highly recommend submitting a cover letter along with your resume. Not all jobs are going to require a cover letter, but if you have the ability to include one, even just as an option, this is one instance where you really should take it. Create a cover letter that addresses why you’re looking to change your career, mentioning what motivated you to make the change, inspired you to go back to school, or continue professional development. Take the opportunity to sell your past experience as an asset. Address how it gives you a unique perspective that’s going to help the company achieve its goals. So there you have it!!!
Change of Career at 50
If you are asking if you can still change careers at age 50(+), yes you can, with the following tips.
First, you need to drop the, “It’s too late” and “I’m too old” narrative. Here’s the fact, the average working age is actually going up as people retire later in life. Some studies showed that in a few years, 25% of the nation’s workforce will be 55 and older and also know that research by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows that folks over 55 have the highest rate of business startup activity globally over the past decade. Two tips I would share includes:
- Get Educated about Business: If for example, you want to run a writing business, you can’t just focus on being the best writer. You also have to know how to market and sell your services so that your business is sustainable, so that it’s profitable and you make this career change successfully.
- Develop a Bias Towards Action: Starting a whole new career, of course is going to feel daunting. It’s going to feel scary, but only if you sit around and daydream or stress about it in your head. You are going to develop a bias towards action. You’re going to focus on taking small steps every single day towards this new career. Remember, clarity comes from engagement, not thought. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but there is always a small, tangible action step that you can take to move your new business ahead.
Changing of Career at 40
It is common for individuals to undergo changes throughout their career journey, and career fields themselves may evolve over time. While a profession that once provided motivation and fulfillment can become less appealing over time, prompting one to contemplate a shift in their career, it may be prudent to contemplate a career change before one becomes entrenched in significant responsibilities. The decision to change careers, whether at age 40 or any other stage, should be made after careful consideration.
1. Seek Information
Information is power. Reach out to individuals, network with colleagues and look out for recruiters and friends in your newly chosen industry. Seek information about job opportunities and let people know you’re on the hunt. Ensure you know what you’re getting into and list out the skill required to be successful in that role.
2. Be clear on why you’re looking for that change
Take a moment to reflect on why you want to leave. List out all your reasons for seeking that career change. Write out what you want, what you are looking for and where you see yourself. This reflection will help you determine if you truly seek a career change or you seek a change of job in another company or workplace.
3. Avoid the Traditional Job Seekers Process
The traditional job seekers process which is where you go on to job posts or you find a job post that you like, you put your resume together, write a cover letter, apply and then keep your fingers crossed hoping that you’re going to get invited for an interview, nail it and then get the job. The problem is that a large number of companies use a so-called ATS to automate the first step of the hiring process. Instead of going for a traditional job seekers process, focus more on building your network and reaching out to people who work at companies that you’d like to work for or who work in industries that you’d like to work in. Reach out to them, connect with them and try to find a job the more informal way.
Change of Career at 30
You might ask if you’re too old to make a career change at 30 and I want to assure you that you’re absolutely not. The truth is when you’re in your 30s, you still got over 30 years left in your working life. Here are 3 tips I can share to make a successful career change.
1. Examine your Current Career
Examine the aspects of what your career entails, what you like and don’t like about your current career field. Ask yourself questions like “What do I enjoy about my current career?”, “What attracted me into this career?”, What do I dislike about my current career?”, etc.
2. Assess your Skills and Aspirations
Begin by evaluating the skills, experience, knowledge, and connections you currently have that can facilitate a smooth transition into your new career path. As a 30-year-old(+) career changer, you already possess years of professional experience that you can leverage to your advantage. It’s essential not to underestimate what you’ve learned and developed during this time, as you can transfer this expertise to your new career and even bring valuable skills and connections with you. Moreover, using your existing skills, knowledge, and experience can be particularly beneficial when trying to enter a company or industry that interests you, even if it’s not your ultimate goal. Remember that there are many career options beyond full-time employment, such as consulting, volunteering, temporary or part-time work, or even self-employment, which may help you achieve your professional and financial goals. Don’t limit your thinking and explore various options that align with your aspirations.
3. Be Patient, Persistent and Persevere
Changing careers takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent in your job search. Consider taking on part-time or freelance work in your new field while you continue to look for full-time opportunities. Be confident about the experience, training and skills you’ve acquired that will help you find a new and fulfilling career.
The thought that we should, if we’re honest with ourselves, probably try to change our career is one of the most anxiety-inducing of all realizations. We need to weigh up investments now, not against our most recent experiences, but in the light of a more accurate picture of an entire life. We need to believe in something that is so hard to really trust in. The reality of our own future decades of life and then, we need to dare to switch track.