People seek to change their careers for a multitude of reasons: feelings of dissatisfaction, lack of fulfilment, a change of career goals, or a need for more flexibility – just to name a few.
You could have years of experience in your current field but with zero industry knowledge or experience in the field you are looking to switch to, even getting an interview can be challenging in a job market that is already competitive.
When you are faced with the challenge of making a career change, following our five steps can help you navigate it seamlessly and successfully.
1. Evaluate your current position
Most people seeking a career change are aware of their unhappiness or dissatisfaction at their current jobs, but are not completely certain of the exact reasons causing it.
If you are not feeling fulfilled at your job, you need to verify if it is a professional or personal reason that is leaving you distressed at work.
Professional reasons motivating a change could include a difficult boss, toxic company culture, or perhaps a misalignment with the job responsibilities.
Likewise, personal reasons such as a desire to learn a new skill, earn a higher salary or have more flexibility also drive people to look into switching careers if possible.
As you evaluate your current job situation, it is entirely possible that you may not consider a complete career change after all.
Gaining clarity could mean that you only needed to adjust your role slightly to improve drive and satisfaction.
However, making a complete career change might be necessary if the process of switching itself excites you more than your current job!
Without a thorough evaluation of your current job situation as well as the process of a career change, attempting to streamline a path for your next few moves can be fraught with a lack of clarity.
2. Scout available job options
When you have decided upon a career change, make an assessment of your career goals, values, interests, and even skills.
Doing so can help you narrow down the career alternatives you can consider working towards and indicate if you need upskilling for it.
It is not entirely impossible to switch to an industry that you have little knowledge in. With the right attitude, capacity, and endurance to learn, you can acquire the qualifications and experience required to work in the industry.
However, switching careers within similar or related industries can be much less challenging as you can leverage on built knowledge and skills.
Some important pointers to consider:
- What do I want out of my job?
- Can I leverage my skills in this new career path?
- What sort of challenges will I face when I make a switch?
- What sort of employee benefits am I giving up?
- Is there an opportunity for advancement?
- How different will the culture be?
Aligning the next job with your values, interests, and skills will aid in a much smoother transition. Engaging the services of a career coach for professional advice could also help your move into uncharted territory.
3. Identify the gaps
Once you have figured out where you are planning to move, your next task will be to research as much as possible on what is required of you to secure that job.
Doing so helps you position yourself for a smoother career change.
Perhaps your next move may require you to acquire some new skills.
Upgrading your skills, shadowing professionals, volunteering or freelance work are just as effective methods of bridging your background into a new career field.
Subsequently, it pays to be clear of the possible trade-offs that come with making a career change.
Not every career move can give you the ideal work hours or the compensation and benefits that you desire, but prioritising your needs can help you make headway in accepting some trade-offs over others.
Go for informational interviews:
Even if your next career move is in the same industry, it is advantageous to stay ahead of evolving skills and knowledge required.
Going for informational interviews gives you a platform for seeking out relevant information that could be useful for your new career.
Likewise, it also demonstrates your proactiveness in taking initiative to potential employers.
Informational interviews are bound to benefit you – you get to expand your professional network and understand the industry you are looking to make a switch to.
Not having experience in the new field does not mean that your current skills are not valuable in that field.
Investing some time into finding transferrable skill sets as well as your selling points as an employee shifts your professional brand towards the new audience you are facing.
Brand yourself for the career you are switching to, not the job you have been doing for a successful shift.
Upgrade your skills and stay relevant:
Understandably so, making a career change more often than not signals a need to upgrade skills and gain industry knowledge.
Fortunately for some, there are companies willing to invest in an individual purely based on transferrable skills, but having some relevant work experience can reinforce your case for a career change.
Check to see if you are able to register for any online courses to upgrade your skills. Equipping yourself with newer skills can give you an edge in relevancy as a job seeker.
4. Make an actionable, trackable plan
Switching to a new career involves many moving parts: tailoring your applications, rebranding yourself, and learning new skills.
Disorderly applications can impact your chances at keeping to an ideal timeline for making that career change.
Create a projected timeline to make your career switch.
Using the timeline, factor in time for actionable items like rebranding yourself, identifying suitable jobs, as well as sending the applications out.
Making a plan and tracking your efforts will give you clarity and help you stay on top of the process.
5. Capitalise on networking opportunities
Look into your existing professional network and build meaningful conversations with them.
Tapping into your school alumni, LinkedIn contacts as well as going for networking conferences are great ways to expand your network.
Approaching your contacts with humility and an open mind will position you as a learner who is willing to make adjustments for a successful career change.
The idea of starting over with a career change can be intimidating but reframe your outlook to see it as a challenge.
Starting off with the right attitude as well as understanding your motivations driving the change can help you make a successful career change.