Do you Want to Switch Careers? Here’s How

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 21, 2021

Oct 21, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

You may decide that you want to change your career at some point in your life. There are many reasons career changes can occur, but it is advantageous to be strategic. An informed and thoughtful career change can lead to higher job satisfaction.

This article will explain why someone might choose to change careers and how you can plan your next career move.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics disagrees on the number of times an average person changes careers. However, we do know that people switch careers frequently, regardless of their industry or occupation.

There are many reasons people want to change careers:

  • Stress reduction
  • Flexibility
  • Salary increases 
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Appreciation

How to change your career path

These are nine steps that will help you make a career change no matter what stage of life you’re in:

  1. Make a personal inventory
  2. Decide if you are interested in changing industries
  3. Brainstorm career opportunities
  4. Find potential job matches
  5. Create an action plan
  6. Brand yourself
  7. Make use of your network
  8. Look into educational resources and learn new skills
  9. Keep yourself motivated by keeping track of your progress

1. Make a personal inventory

Start a journal. Consider your feelings about your current job and how they affect your job satisfaction. Note recurring themes and notable events and how they impact your feelings. Ask yourself difficult questions such as "What's the best thing about my job?" Then, read your answers. You'll start to see what job satisfaction looks like for you by taking and reviewing your notes.

You'll need to make a list of your skills, values, and interests relevant to the job you love. Think back to the times when you have been successful. Now think about the things you did, whether it was a job, volunteering, internship, etc. Find out what skills you have that contributed to your success and how these skills can be applied to other roles that might interest you.

2. Decide whether you wish to change industries

As you learn more about yourself and discover what fulfilling work means for you, it is important to decide how you would like to change your career path. For example, some people may want to change careers and start over in a different industry, while others might be looking for a new job within the same industry.

Example: Monica might be a multimedia advertising sales rep for a television channel. She could use her sales skills to obtain a job as a director of donor relations for a nonprofit home healthcare organization. Monica would use her relevant occupational skills to switch industries, from broadcasting to personal health care.

Monica's replacement as donor relations manager, Natalie, used her administrative and financial experience to secure a job as a hospice controller. Natalie, who was in the healthcare industry, changed her occupation.

To determine what is best for you, it's essential to use your inventory and decide which industries and occupations are most suitable.

3. Brainstorming careers

You can learn more about your career options by brainstorming the industries and jobs that might be a good match for your skills. Ask your professional network for help if you are having difficulty finding a job that suits your needs. Career counseling is another option. This will help you to understand your personality and fit into the changing workforce.

You may be an excellent candidate for a career in software development producing subscription management software or similar products. Still, if you never speak with someone who can evaluate your skill set, you will never know what you are fully capable of.

You can use resources to brainstorm possible careers and create a list of jobs you want to research. This will allow you to narrow down your career focus before you dive into more detailed research.

4. Find potential job matches

Once you have narrowed your search to a handful of job types, it's possible to do more detailed research. Interviews with experts in your field are a great way to find out more. You can talk to people you already know or look through your college alumni association. Speak with someone in the industry about important questions such as benefits, and getting a paystub, and other critical parts of a long-term career.

You can also use the BLS's employment projections to find the fastest-growing jobs.

5. Create an action plan

Your action plan is a way to define a goal and set milestones. You should now be able to narrow down your career choice to a specific job. Now it's time for you to think about how to get there.

Consider things such as education, certification, skill development, attending networking events, and taking advantage of opportunities to practice in the industry. Write down the steps you intend to take and the timeline that will lead to your goal.

6. Rebranding

You may need to rebrand yourself before you apply for new jobs. Candidates looking for work should use resources such as a resume, cover letter, and social profiles to build a brand that is appealing to employers. This is especially important if you are changing careers. Without much planning, your current experience might not be aligned with your goals.

You can use your past experiences to help you be a better candidate for the job you are applying for. This will allow you to create a compelling personal statement that explains why you are a great fit for your resume, cover letters, and other business networking sites. Make sure to update your business cards, personal websites, and contact information to reflect your brand.

7. Make use of your network

When choosing contacts to reach out to, be mindful of the industry and job position you are looking for. Talk to professionals you trust to help you find opportunities and put in a positive word. This can be done over the phone, via text, or by sending a referral email.

Also, look for volunteer, intern, and job shadow opportunities. This will allow you to determine if you are a good fit for the field and provide you with the experience that you need to stand out among other job applicants.

8. Look into educational resources to learn new skills

You may need additional education if you are interested in a career that requires certifications or a degree. You can learn more about your career by taking college courses, continuing education classes, or using free online resources.

Find opportunities in your current job if you are employed to learn the skills that you need to change careers. A marketer might ask to be given control of the marketing budget in order to learn how to work with ledgers. These opportunities are great, but you must remember to add the newly acquired skills to your cover letter and resume.

9. Keep yourself motivated by keeping track of your progress

A spreadsheet can help you keep motivated as you work towards your career-change plan. Sometimes it can be difficult to change your career. Tracking your progress can help you recognize all the little victories and give you a greater sense of accomplishment when you make the transition.