How to change careers in 6 steps

There are lots of reasons why a career change is a good decision to make, but often those that want to change careers use lots of other reasons to prevent it from happening. Making it happen isn’t easy and there are lots of things that get in the way – having to pay the bills, lack of qualifications, lack of skills and experience, not enough time to learn something new, and so on.

But you shouldn’t let anything stop you from making a career change when you know it’s the right thing to do. As the years roll on you will continue to regret not making a plan and putting things into motion. Act now and act fast if you want to change careers and make yourself a better life!

Here’s how to change careers in 6 steps.

1. Figure out why you want to change careers

The first thing you must do is sit down and write out all the reasons why you feel you should change careers. To help you with this, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is there someone at work that I am not getting along with?
  • How much job satisfaction do I get?
  • Am I happy with the salary and benefits?
  • Do I have to travel far?
  • Is it expensive to get to work?
  • Is there no scope for promotion?

Not every one of these questions directly relates to changing careers, and some of the issues you may be experiencing could be easily fixed by speaking with your manager. Before you plan a career change it’s important that you are 100% happy that it’s the right decision.

If you are not getting along with someone or you want to take on more responsibility and work towards a promotion, then let your boss know. They may be able to make a plan and start training and supporting you towards achieving your goals. If the response you get doesn’t solve your issues, then you could consider finding another job or look again at a career change.

For a more in-depth overview of the reasons you might consider to change careers, here are 10 signs it’s time for a career change – how many of these apply to you?

2. Find out what you want to do

Now that you’ve decided it definitely is time to change careers you now need to work out exactly what you want to do. The worst mistake you could make is to change careers but still end up feeling the same as you did before. It could take a lot of time, energy and resources to do a career u-turn and you may only get one shot at it.

For those of you that have a clear path and have always known what career you want from the start, then this part is already done and you can move onto the next step. However, if you are unsure then it’s time to starting making a list.

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to search for specific job titles through job boards if you don’t actually know what you want to do. This can cause a lot of frustration and confusion because most job adverts don’t tell the whole story. They are often littered with buzzwords like ‘dynamic’, ‘confident’, ‘specialist’, and other industry jargon words like ‘offshore sectors’ and ‘HSE standards’. The adverts are of course written that way as they assume experienced candidates will be reading them and would understand the requirements.

When you are considering a career change you may or may not understand the full requirements, and you will need to research this in order to plan the next stage. But before you do that be careful not to be put off by what you read on the job advert. Instead, stay clear of looking for specific job titles and go for a more generic approach.

Think about what you are good at and what you’d like to do. For example, do you take an interest in teaching? Do you like the idea of working in sales? Or would you like to be more hands in a creative role?

Taking this more generic approach will allow you to start right from the top and work your way down until you begin to reveal more specific job titles.

3. Do your research

With a more specific role in mind you can now begin to research what it will take. This is usually the stage at which most people give up and go back to the same job having lost all hope of achieving their goals. It’s easy to lack confidence in your own abilities, and when faced with the prospect of potentially going back into education to gain a qualification it can feel very overwhelming.

Remember why you got to this stage in the first place. You are clearly unhappy with your job and a career change will fix that for many years to come. You can learn anything if you put your mind to it, and all you need is a plan. Here are 5 ways to research your career options.

4. Plan ahead

Armed with a huge amount of research and the knowledge of what comes next, it’s now time to create a plan. Without a plan you will likely not achieve your goals and take those huge steps to changing careers. Again, this daunting and overwhelming task ahead of you can only be achieved if you take baby steps.

Draw out a plan of each stage and where you need to be by a certain date. The first date in your calendar could be to apply online for a specific course. The next stage after that could be the completion date of the course and when you will start to apply for jobs. There is likely to be much more to your list of ‘things to do’, but even something as simple as this will motivate you to get things done.

5. Track your progression

Along the way you need to track your progression to make sure everything is going smoothly. Have you achieved your goals so far? Have you been on time or did you have to make adjustments?

Having a plan is the first step, but you must track your progression if you want to stay on top of things. Using a calendar or diary, a spreadsheet or word doc, or even a piece of paper stuck to your fridge – whatever will help you to tick off your goals as you go along will help inspire and motivate your progression.

Seeing your journey in writing will help you to see how well you are doing and how much closer you are getting to changing careers. You could also ask your partner or a friend to help motivate and push you along when the going gets tough. Let them know what you plan to do and how you plan to go about it. They can then check in with you and even offer some tips on what to do next.

6. Get involved

To fully understand and learn about a new career you should completely immerse yourself – if you haven’t already! You may have been dabbling in and out of your dream career for many years now, but it’s time to get serious.

Fully immerse yourself in this new career and get involved with today’s news. Create a LinkedIn profile and begin to build up a reputation letting everyone know that you have changed job titles. Share, connect and contribute to the industry and begin to build up your commercial awareness. This will help you to shape a better CV when the time comes to apply.

Depending on the industry you are now entering consider attending seminars, meetings and anything else you can go to. You could create a few business cards and hand them out when you meet potential employers. Applying through online job boards is usually the quickest and most effective way of getting an interview, but with a lack of experience you may struggle to make it further. If you are able to make contact with managers within that industry you may be able to plead your case and let them know you are looking for a new career.

Passionate, hard working and driven people will always get what they want out of a career. You just have to research, plan, track and believe that you can do it!

Further reading

8 things you must do if you want to be headhunted for a job

Stuck in a dead end job or career? Here’s what to do

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