How to Change Careers (According to 20+ Experts)

Are you feeling unhappy or unfulfilled in your career? You’re not alone. Many people reach a point where they feel like they need to make a change.

But with so many options, how do you know what’s right for you? Where do you start, and what’s the best way to go about it?

If you’re looking for help and advice, experts say here are ways to change careers successfully:

Find your way to your new career by branding yourself for what’s next

Millions of American workers left their jobs during the pandemic during what’s known as the Great Resignation. Some of them are living with great regret

Now, it’s time for the “Great Rebranding. Whenever you change jobs or careers, or if you go from an employee to a business owner, the first step is to rebrand.

The personal brand that helped you succeed in your old career might not be quite right for your new one or the one you hope to land. That personal brand might be years or even decades old. 

It might have been perfect for you at one time, but you’ve changed, and you want to change careers. It’s time to rebrand.

Decide what you want to accomplish

Your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world, your new employer, colleagues, and clients. 

  • What do you need to do differently now that you’re headed somewhere new? 
  • How does someone with the job or career you want to behave, speak, dress, react and interact with people?
  • How is that different from how you have presented yourself in the past?
  • What new goals do you have for your new career? 

Before you re-create or even tweak your personal brand, decide what you want to accomplish. Your brand is a way to achieve those goals.

Make a plan

The first step to rebranding for your new career is to make a plan. Ask yourself:

  • “What do I need to change about how I present myself to succeed in my new career?”
  • “What skills will I need to acquire to show others I am qualified?”
  • “How will my appearance and approach to others need to change?”

Be authentic

Now, ask yourself one more question: Is this “new me” really “me“? This is important for two reasons. 

First, no matter what else your new personal brand includes, like:

  • Professional
  • Qualified
  • Reliable
  • Outgoing

It should reflect your core values, like “honest, helpful, kind, and empathetic.

Related: How to Answer “What Are Your Values?” in an Interview

Second, a personal brand will be effective only if you live it day in and day out, every day. 

Others will “buy” your new brand only if you consistently prove that it reflects who you really are, what you actually can do, and whether you can always behave and interact with others in the way you have determined is well-suited to your new career.

Sell yourself

If you have created an authentic personal brand that you can live up to every day, you won’t have any trouble selling yourself as perfect for your new career.

In fact, your personal brand is the most effective tool you have for selling yourself during a job interview, when you pitch a client, or when you ask the bank for a loan for your new business.

A good rule of thumb for branding and rebranding: Create, live and sell that brand. Doing one without the others renders your personal brand as little more than a wish list.

Learn how to sell

You’ve been selling yourself your whole life. But now that you’re changing careers, it’s time to learn how to sell effectively

You can boost your chances of selling yourself to those who can help you succeed in this next phase of your work life by using the skills and strategies of professional salespeople.

It includes:

  • Plan for the sale by knowing who can help you get what you need by preparing to sell when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Look for opportunities to showcase your new personal brand to those in a position to hire or advise you or help you start your new career.
  • Establish trust with those people by showing them how they will benefit from helping you. Listen to what they say. Learn what they need. Figure out how you can help them in return.
  • Ask for what you want. Don’t wait for people to figure out that you’re the best person for a job, a loan, a business license, or a big promotion. Know what you want and go after it.
  • Follow up with gratitude. Whenever you succeed, thank those who helped you get there. Show your gratitude by keeping your promises, delivering what you promised, and reinforcing that you are the person you presented to the world by using your new personal brand.

Make the change

A career shift is a significant life change. Big changes call for brand changes. Find your way to your new career by branding yourself for what’s next. 

Once you’re there, continually tweak your personal brand so you’re prepared to change again and again to meet the new goals you always will create for yourself. 

Sally Anne Carroll, PCC

Sally Anne Carroll

Life and Career Coach and Founder, WholeLife Strategies Coaching | Author, “Reinvent Your Reality

Successful career pivots start with self-exploration and reconnecting to your goals for your career and all of the personal and professional resources you bring. 

Yet many career changers jump into action — start searching LinkedIn, talking to their network, or even applying for jobs— before doing the foundational work that is required to make a thoughtful, smart move for their career — one that is clearly aligned with their: 

  • Strengths
  • Interests
  • Values 
  • The bigger picture of their life/career vision and goals

Reconnect with yourself and your resources

Working with a coach to reconnect you to all of your resources can help to build a solid foundation for a career change that is sustainablemeaningful, and fulfilling.

Related: What to Expect from a Career Coach?

This work is all about digging deeper into “who you are” and “who you want to be” at work. This often includes exploring your: 

  • Personal values and priorities (a major contributor to finding the right cultural fit)
  • Work preferences and work style
  • Transferable skills and experience
  • Accomplishments
  • Unique mix of natural strengths

Reimagine the future

From that foundation, it’s important to understand the bigger picture of “where you want to go.

What’s your overall life vision, and how does your work fit in? This can be particularly helpful for people with many ideas for their potential career direction. 

Setting work into the larger picture of your life can quickly eliminate options and move others to the forefront. It can also help to set up much clearer decision-making criteria and tap into deeper motivations. 

To ensure that you are building healthy work-life integration from the start, looking at how you define that and how you manage your personal energy to keep your life balanced is crucial.

Related: Why Is Work Life Balance so Important in Today’s World?

Redesign, realign, and restructure

Going slow at the start by giving ample time and energy to the reconnection and reimagining pieces effectively speeds up the process when you start designing your job search strategy. 

This is because you are much clearer and more confident about your desired role and the value you bring. This is the point at which you can map an effective plan and get into action, which may include:

  • Identifying which careers and types of employers or work situations interest you 
  • Researching specific job roles and employment opportunities
  • Conducting informational interviews and tapping into your network
  • Exploring professional development or training that may be needed to position you into the role effectively
  • Drafting your personal brand and job search toolkit

With a solid plan in place, you can then experiment — put it into action, and come back to realign your ideas based on what you learn. It’s very common to adjust and even change directions in this period. 

You may find a more suitable career option that you hadn’t considered. You may even discover that you don’t want a new career but want a new employer, a new role, or to change how you work. 

The more you learn about your desired next role, the better you can refine your ideas, enact a successful search, and effectively position yourself for what’s next. 

As you develop more clarity, refining your job search strategy, branding materials, decision criteria, and interview pitches become more seamless and aligned, allowing for a more successful and authentic career pivot.

Fred Coon, LEA, JCTC, CRW

Fred Coon

Chairman and CEO, Stewart, Cooper & Coon, Inc. | Author, “Ready Aim Hired: Job Search Tactics That Really Work!

Ten years ago, changing careers was not easy. Myopic recruiters demanded that each candidate be a fuzzy, left-handed, purple squirrel. Missing one of these characteristics, even by the smallest amount, was a predictable and immediate rejection of your candidacy. This is not so in 2022. 

The Great Resignation, the macro-, and micro-economics of Covid-19, the upsurge in the over 60 returning workers, and other factors have altered the employment landscape, and changing careers has become more of a model than an anomaly.

Write you’re your new drivers down and prioritize them from the most to least important

One doesn’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to find a new industry today in which I can be productive and personally satisfied.” 

It begins with a change in your basic needs, environmental needs, or one or more life events that drive this desire. Ask yourself this. “What has changed in my life to the degree I now have, new drivers or motivations?

As you read this article, write you’re your new drivers down and prioritize them from their most to least important. Here they are: 

  • Challenge
  • Fit
  • Happy Factor
  • Geography
  • Money

What is your primary driver? Your secondary? Take a minute and write them down. The top two are your new focus and the beginning point in starting your career change journey.

That’s nice, but a dose of reality is critical at this point. All of us daydream. But before you do too much of that, ask yourself this, “Do I have the skills to meet the challenges and demands of that new course of action you have just chosen?” 

Most people think that they can be anything they want in the workplace. For the gifted, that’s true. But for the rest of us, we must work hard and be prepared. 

Know your value proposition

Let me explain. Each of us has value. In the workplace, that is called a value proposition. Your value proposition is a combination of the total sum of your functional, technical, and behavioral competencies. 

To assume that others understand them is folly. People don’t “get you” unless you help them. In a job search where you hope to change industries, the basic components of your value proposition are expressed in: 

  • A professionally written resume 
  • A searchable LinkedIn profile 
  • Your targeting and marketing strategies
  • Your ability to explain your value to the interviewer so they “get it” and feel compelled to make you an offer

This requires: 

  • Hard work
  • Careful inspection of your value platforms 
  • Flawless execution

This is not where you “wing it”—that leads to certain failure.

Future employers, whether they are in inside your current industry and most certainly in another industry, are evaluating you as to whether or not you are a good fit for their organization or company. 

The question you must grapple with now is this: 

“Can I demonstrate clearly to the new employer that I will exceed their expectations for performance for that position, that I will bring a measurable benefit to their company, and last but not least, that I am a great behavioral fit for their team and organization?”

Your goal is to ensure you understand their needs and clearly communicate that you exceed their expectations.

In closing, here’s the truth. It is not about what you think; it is about how others perceive your value. The others are those who pay your salary. 

Otherwise, there is no possibility for a meaningful and successful career change. Does your current value proposition allow you to present a crystal-clear case for why they should hire you in a new industry?

Arno Markus ​BA, MSc., CPRW

Arno Markus

Founder, iCareerSolutions

If you’re looking for ways to change careers, you’re not alone. A recent study by Pew Research Center examined the reasons people change careers. While many of these reasons can seem very personal, they’re actually fairly common. 

Career changers, for example, typically make more money than they did the month before they changed jobs. On the other hand, those who stay with their current employer usually don’t get that big of a bump in pay.

Research and figure out the kind of career that would fit best with your skills

Changing careers is not uncommon and is often a necessity for some people. Whether it’s because they’ve become dissatisfied with their current position or because they want a better work-life balance, people are looking for a new opportunity. 

However, it is essential to remember that not everyone can make this type of change. Some people don’t have the time or resources to pursue a new career path.

To find a new career, you need to take some time to do research. There are many resources online that can help you find a new job. You can also ask friends, family, and acquaintances for advice. You can also take a career test, which will help you figure out the kind of career that would fit best with your skills.

Assess your skills and abilities

The first step in preparing for a career change is to assess your skills and abilities. 

Review your resume and list specific information for the new role. Write down your strengths and weaknesses, so you can refer to them later. Using this information will help you narrow down your career options.

Next, identify the reasons you are considering a career change. It may be due to a job loss or a personal desire. Either way, you must be ready to meet challenges.

Identify your interests

If you want to make a career change, one of the most critical steps you need to take is identifying your interests. 

While this may not be easy, it is an important first step towards personal happiness, career success, and self-discovery. There are several scientifically validated tests you can take to help you understand what you really want to do.

In addition to helping you make better career decisions, identifying your interests can help you find a job you enjoy. When you enjoy your work, you will be more productive. This can motivate you to work harder and develop your skills.

Have a detailed action plan to ensure you have the best chance of success

When you decide to change careers, you need to have a detailed action plan to ensure you have the best chance of success. 

First, you should define the goals you want to achieve and then list the necessary steps to get there. You can consider taking training courses or volunteering in the field you wish to enter. 

Related: 22 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important for Success

Next, determine the timeline for each step. The most common obstacle to changing careers is inertia. You might feel hesitant to leave the security of your current job or worry about how your family will react to your new career. If this is the case, you should act without overthinking your decision.

Find a job that embraces your passions

Finding a job that embraces your passion is an ideal way to begin a new career. After all, this can be life-changing. 

You might have to take a pay cut for a while, or you may decide to take baby steps while you determine your new direction. You may also need to retool your resume and cover letter, as well as interview style.

Ultimately, it can be a rewarding change that will lead to a life of greater satisfaction and happiness.

A job that embraces your passions is ideal, but the challenge lies in finding the right one.

You can start by searching for jobs on sites like Monster. These sites allow you to post up to five different versions of your resume, and recruiters can search for them to find a qualified candidate. Signing up can even get job alerts sent to your email.

Common challenges of changing careers

Many reasons can cause a person to change careers. Some people are looking for a change of pace, higher pay, or more personal fulfillment. 

Whatever the reason, it can be daunting to make the change. A good career coach can help people gain clarity and confidence while transitioning to a new path.

One common challenge is a lack of experience in a new field. It can be difficult to get hired if you do not have experience in your new career field. For this reason, it is crucial to pick a career path that aligns with your background and experience.

If you have extensive experience in your current field, you may not have the same amount of skills as those working in your new field. Also, if you start your new career at the entry-level, it may be a concern for employers that you have too little experience or that you may be growing out of lower positions too quickly.

Related: How Am I Supposed to Get Experience if Every Job Requires Experience

Dr. Debra Geller

Debra Geller

Job Search Support and Higher Ed Consultant

Before launching my consulting business, I worked as a senior university administrator for 30 years. During that time, I interviewed, hired, and supervised staff at all levels of the organization and mentored students and new and mid-level professionals on their career development. 

My experience has shown me that one can successfully change careers. There are a few things to keep in mind if a career change is your goal:

Conduct a self-assessment

The first step in preparing for a career change is conducting a self-assessment. You need to identify your strengths and understand how they are transferable to other industries/careers. 

Many careers and industries value employees with: 

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Financial management skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Creativity 

Research other careers

Once you know your strengths, you need to research job opportunities. Identify those that excite you. Read their postings. 

How do your transferable skills align with their requirements? Are there requirements for that dream job that you lack?

Obtain additional training or experience, if needed

If your dream job requires a skill or competency you lack, you may need to obtain additional training or experience.

Is there a course available locally or online to give you that qualification? Can you develop or demonstrate competency by doing volunteer work through a professional nonprofit or community organization?

Network, network, network

Once you have identified the new career to which your skills are transferable, it is time to network.

Related: What Are the Benefits of Business Networking? 

Who knows you (that’s right—it isn’t about who you know but about who knows you and thinks highly of you) that is connected to that career/industry? 

Reach out and let them know you are looking for a job. Do they know anyone hiring or have tips for you? Are they willing to recommend you or make an introduction? 

Revise your resume to reflect the priorities of the new job you seek

Before you apply for that job, you need to revise your resume to reflect the priorities of the new job you seek. Use language that you see in job postings. 

You may need to rearrange sections—do they prioritize education or professional experience? And remember, your resume should reflect your accomplishments and not read like a job description for past jobs. 

When hiring, we care what you do well—not what you have been asked to do.

Go get that job

This means writing a wow of a cover letter. Explain: 

  • Why are you making the career change?
  • How are you prepared to be successful in your new career?
  • Why they’ll be glad they took a chance on you?

Amy Feind Reeves

Amy Feind Reeves

Career Coach | Founder and CEO, JobCoachAmy | Author, “College to Career, Explained

There are three key questions you need to be able to answer before you can begin taking steps to transition to a different career: 

  1. How will my skills and experiences translate into value for the career I hope to transition into? 
  2. Who do I know who can help me get my foot in the door? 
  3. How will I answer a hiring manager when they ask, “why should I hire you over someone with direct experience in this role and industry?”

Translate your skills and experience into the industry where you are transitioning

Every career has transferable skills. Whether you are collaborating on the mechanism that releases landing gear on a 747 airliner or a campaign to reduce carbon emissions, you are collaborating with people to arrive at the best possible product given a limited time, a defined budget, and your best collective understanding of all the facts.

Think about what you do every day and what gets done every day in the job you hope to get. What tasks are the same? What key success factors are the same? 

Prepare this list—you will need it for networking and interviews. One note: you will definitely need a new glossary. Forget every acronym, slang term, and industry jargon you know. 

You will need to learn new industry terms, even if you do not need to start over learning new skills.

Find people to help get your foot in the door

You may not know people working where you hope to be, but someone you know probably does. There are rarely more than a few degrees of separation between most people today. 

Some of your best resources to find them are online alumni directories, LinkedIn, and just plain asking around. You will be amazed at what you can turn up. 

Have your elevator pitch ready: “This is what I’m looking to do. This is why I know I’ll be good at it; can you help me?”

Recruiters rarely look past being able to put a round peg into a round hole, which means that if you are transitioning into something new, they may not be of much help. You will be on your own with your contacts and the contacts you can make.

Have a good, positive, and upbeat answer to “why should I hire you?”

The most important question to answer in any interview is, why do you want this job? 

When transitioning careers, the question is even harder because you need to have a good, positive, and upbeat answer. Don’t bother if your answer involves getting away from a boss, a collapsing organization, or a negative experience. 

You need to be transitioning towards a goal and not away from a bad situation. Beyond that, however, you need a great answer to the question, “Why should I hire you over someone at the same level who has experience in this role and industry?”

The good news is that corporate America is behind you on this one! Right now, management literature is about bringing in fresh perspectives and unique value. 

Craft an example of how you can bring in a best practice from your own experience that may raise revenue or decrease the cost to explain why you would be the better choice. Be creative and as specific as possible.

Joana Fonseca Orvalho

Joana Fonseca Orvalho

Career and Mindset Coach, Coaching for Professionals

Detach yourself from your job title

A key mistake I see happening repeatedly is that people believe they are their job title. For instance, I am a banker rather than, I work in banking. This can be a very subtle but significant distinction. 

When you identify as “being your job,” you create many emotional barriers to changing your career for something that fulfills you more. 

Believing that a job is a part of who you are is to attach your personal value to it, as you allow the role to define you. By doing this, you are saying that if you are to change, somehow you won’t have as much value, you will lose your status in society, and you will lose part of your identity.

Well, this is not true, not even for a second! Your value is linked to your inner being, and you can contribute to society in the same way (or even more) by doing a different type of job. 

Similarly, by changing what you do for a living, you won’t become a different person — you are who you are.

So, allowing yourself to see your job just as a title will free you up mentally to look for new opportunities to meet your needs.

Focus on your skills and how these can be utilized in the new role

To successfully change careers, you must focus on your transferable skills when it comes to understanding the value you bring to any job and preparing your resume and cover letter.

Your transferable skills are the ones that you can use seamlessly across many different types of roles or industries; they are not tied up to a specific task linked to your current job. 

In addition, it is crucial to recognize that we gain skills with everything we do in life, e.g., a mom is a master in multi-tasking, and that can and should be flashed out.

Simultaneously, when you write your CV, the focus should be on your skills and how these can be utilized in the new role—rather than the specific achievements of your current position. 

For instance, rather than saying that you used to present sales pitches to architectural clients, focus on the fact that you are great at giving (and preparing) presentations to external parties to the company, as you used to pitch to clients.

Spend time understanding what you’re trying to achieve and what you really want

The people that successfully change their careers are the ones that focus their efforts. In other words, they are the ones that know what they really want to do next in their working life and don’t start applying for all job posts that come their way.

It’s amazing how many women have said to me, “I’ve applied for dozens of jobs that I’m qualified to do and never heard back.” This is simply because their heart wasn’t in it.

Related: Why Am I Not Getting Interviews for Jobs I’m Qualified For?

When you don’t know what you want, it is hard to do things with the right intention; you won’t be in the right mindset to attract it, the same way that your application won’t be tailored enough for the potential employer to see that you want the role.

So before you start actively searching for jobs, really do spend the time understanding what you’re trying to achieve with your career change and what type of role would give you what you want. You can then truly focus on getting it!

Feel positive and confident about the change

The key ingredient to successfully implementing any change is the right mindset. For you to be able to change your career successfully, you must feel positive and confident about the change.

You must embrace the change that is about to happen in your life by feeling grateful for how much you have already accomplished in your career and excited about the next step. 

Knowing that all your experience has brought you to this place and not feeling guilty, angry, or sad somehow about how much you’ve invested in being where you are today.

Acknowledging that it’s ok to feel the need to change your career and accept that you can do something else to make sure you have a meaningful career is vital. I see a lot of women failing to change careers because they judge themselves on the simple fact that they want a change.

Another common barrier is fear: you need to be able to identify and overcome your fears regarding this change. Fears such as, 

  • “I won’t make enough money.” 
  • “I won’t be good in my new job.”
  • “What will others think.”

The list goes on. The simple act of identifying a fear, it’s one step forward; then, you only need to work hard to change that self-belief.

Focusing on your mindset is, therefore, a must when changing careers.

R. Karl Hebenstreit, Ph.D., PCC, PHR

R. Karl Hebenstreit

Leadership and Organization Development Expert, Perform & Function, LLC | Author, “Taking Care of Business with the Enneagram

Level-set your pride and expectations and use your network

Level-set your pride and expectations, knowing that you may have to seek and accept opportunities at lower pay and level than what you might be used to, especially if you’ve been in your current role/industry for a while (over five years). 

Leverage your network of colleagues, mentors, and coaches to identify your passion and realistic skill level in what’s needed for success in the target role/industry. 

Research this in advance. Ask for informational interviews and shadow people whose jobs or industries are of potential interest to you. If you don’t have the transferable skills and/or a champion in an organization to provide you with the access you want, check out contracting and temporary agencies. 

Check out state Employment Development Divisions to see if they have programs or opportunities to help people change careers. Some large companies also offer “return-to-work” internships for adults who have been out of the workforce for family and other reasons. 

Maybe even volunteer for non-profits to build a baseline skill you will need to use in your aspirational job/industry. 

Redo your resume with your aspirational role highlighted and all the transferable skillseducation, and experiences you have amassed that would support that (spell it out so that potential hiring managers and recruiters don’t have to work hard to infer what you’re going for). 

Be persistent and follow up/through in pursuing your dream

Lastly, don’t give up. Be persistent and follow up/through in pursuing your dream, especially if you’re genuinely passionate about it. 

As a hiring manager, I’d rather hire someone passionate about the work/ mission/organization than someone who may have the skillset but not be as engaged and motivated.

Meredith Castin, PT, DPT

Meredith Castin

Non-Clinical Career Strategist | Founder, The Non-Clinical PT

I have found that you can really break things down into a 4-step process when changing careers. These steps can be brief or time-consuming, but if you follow this formula, you can make the switch. 

Identify what you’re running from and what you’re running toward

First, you need to identify what you’re running from and what you’re running toward. Meaning, why are you leaving your current career? 

  • Are you burned out from being “on” too much? 
  • Is there too much driving? 
  • Too much solo time? 
  • Do you not feel challenged? 
  • Do you crave crunching numbers or hate staring at data all day? 

If you can identify what you want to leave behind, it’s helpful, but you also need to know what you are running toward in the next move. 

  • Do you need more collaboration? 
  • Want to work from home? 
  • Crave more hard data or wish you could think more creatively? 

Identifying these factors helps because different people have different values, priorities, inherent strengths and skills, and the like. 

In the case of physical therapists, we have many transferable skills that can be leveraged in new roles, but we need to know which skills to highlight in our next chapter. 

I recommend taking personality and skills assessments to help you understand your inherent strengths and skills. It’s wise to take some time to go deep and determine the must-haves and can’t-stands for your next career path. 

Working with a career advisor or coach can be helpful, and working with a licensed career counselor might make sense if you’ve already changed careers and still feel dissatisfied.

Explore what else is out there

In the case of a PT, it might be easier to focus on which career paths leverage our existing experience. 

So, a career in public health, healthcare administration, or clinical sales might make sense because we already have transferable skills and direct experience with patients and other providers. 

That said, you’re never limited to related career paths. I have heard of PTs who leave to become realtors and truck drivers. The key here is to map those elements you dug up in step one and match them to careers in step two. 

Explore what is out there by doing informational interviews, reading career profiles and spotlights, and generally getting an idea of what the pros/cons and various day-to-day careers look like. 

Explore not just the pay but also the growth of the industry on the whole. Are you limited in income by reimbursements or a broken payment system? 

Take action—upskill and rebrand yourself

Take action! Once you have identified what you want to do in step two, it’s time to upskill and rebrand yourself. Take courses on sites like Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and other platforms. 

Make yourself more marketable by volunteering for organizations that need the skills you’re trying to develop—trying to move into project management? Get involved with Habitat for Humanity or Toastmasters International. 

The work you do to help organize, recruit, and overall manage projects can be very transferable to what you want to do. It looks great on a resume, and other members of said organizations will automatically want to interview you because of your shared interests. 

Be sure when you rebrand yourself that you match your LinkedIn profile with what your resume and cover letter say about you. On that note, you always want to tailor every resume and cover letter to the job you’re pursuing. Your LinkedIn can be a bit more generic, branding you as competent in a type of career path. 

For example, if you’re a PT pursuing a project manager role, but you’d also consider product manager or even product marketing roles, you’d want to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job. Use keywords and key phrases that ATS (scanning software) systems will pick up when sorting applications. 

But you want your LinkedIn profile to be a bit more general. It could simply have a headline like: “Reliable, adaptable, and enthusiastic clinician with strong leadership and project management skills.” 

You’ll want to list all the additional courses and experiences you’ve developed on your resume and LinkedIn profile. If you’re worried that experience might get lost, it can also be noted in bullet points within a cover letter. 

It’s essential to have a real story to share

The last step comes around when you’ve landed interviews. This is where it’s extra essential to have a real story to share—a narrative where you explain why you’re leaving your current career to pursue the new one. 

Related: How to Tell a Story With Your Resume

Be sure you focus on what you’re going toward vs. what you’re running away from. Nobody wants to hear you complain about the broken state of healthcare, so you’ll want to focus on why your existing skills and healthcare experience will make you such a unique and qualified candidate for this new role in this new career. 

Sell yourself on the enthusiasm and work ethic that you bring to the table. Clinicians are used to working against very tough productivity standards, and if you can play up your time management skills and strong work ethic, you’ll outperform other candidates with more directly related experience.

Related: How to Answer “What Sets You Apart from Other Candidates?”

Matthew Warzel, CPRW

Matthew Warzel

President, MJW Careers, LLC

Take a mental break first, then internalize, realize, and visualize

Short term? My best advice for career shifters is to deal with this transition by taking a mental break first, then internalize, realize, and visualize. 

Try to identify your relevance in terms of value to a prospective employer, internalize what your passions are and some transferable skills and accomplishments to relay to hiring managers a solid resume and some email communication templates (or cover letter), and a lot of patience and willpower. 

A good rule of thumb for the job hunter seeking a new role in a new industry is to identify your transferable skills and portray those first on your LinkedIn profile and resume. 

Reverse engineer your career path from your ideal job description and see what you have and what needs up-skilling.

Related: What to Do If You Don’t Know What Career Path to Choose?

Have a vision of your dream job

Think the long game. Have a vision of your dream job; think of your job drivers. What’s important to you? 

  • Time
  • Money
  • Benefits
  • 401(k)
  • Location
  • Product offerings
  • Company image
  • Culture
  • Values
  • Progressive versus traditional setting
  • Remote versus on-location 
  • Passionate project opportunities 

Each is different for each person. 

  • What motivates you? 
  • What’s your passion? 
  • What can you do to make yourself happy in two weeks, three months, or a year?

Be confident on your job hunt 

I always tell my clients to gain confidence by: 

  • Researching the role and investigating the industry, major players, products/offerings/services, and news. 
  • Learning the terminology and respective process impact in this new role. 
  • Understanding the function your new role would play in the entire operations. Why is there an opening? What pain points do the hiring managers have because of the opening? 

The single best piece of advice for possessing confidence during an interview is to ensure you have all your project narratives in order and ready to share each success, depending on the question. 

Get your stories down. Your narratives are vital not only for the job but for your pay rate. 

The more knowledge and understanding of the value you present, stories to share of your accomplishments, and knowledge of the role/company, the more confidence you have.

Colleen Paulson, MBA, CPRW

Colleen Paulson

Career Consultant and Certified Professional Resume Writer

Highlight your transferable skills and use skill stacking

I’ve switched careers numerous times (from engineering to pricing to investment analyst to MBA admissions officer to career consultant/resume writer). 

My biggest tip is to highlight your transferable skills. You must demonstrate how your skills and experience will help you succeed in your new role. You also need to stack skills. 

Let me talk through how to do this successfully.

My undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering — which on the surface seems to have nothing to do with being a career coach/resume writer, but I gained valuable skills such as problem-solvingresearch, and analysis as an engineer.

After undergrad, I worked for Procter & Gamble for five years, managing multi-million dollar projects and leading up to 30 team members. My transferable skills were project managementcoaching, and leadership.

Next, I earned my MBA, developing my skills in finance and strategy.

In my next role as an Analyst for FedEx, I specialized in advanced financial analysis. I worked extensively with our sales team to develop customized pricing for Fortune 500 clients. My transferable skills were financial analysis, research, relationship building, and pricing.

When my first child was born 16 years ago, I left my role with FedEx because I really wanted flexible work. At the time, I had no plan for what I would do next. I had always loved to write (although I hadn’t taken an English course since high school).

So I used my transferable skills in financial analysis and research to start freelance writing about business and investing. I contributed 175 articles to The Motley Fool and have published work with Investopedia and Bloomberg Business, among others.

At the same time, I started writing resumes. I’ve never heard a high school student that they want to be a professional resume writer when they grow up (that certainly wasn’t my aspiration when I started engineering school!).

But I used transferable skills and skill stacking to build a business where I can actively help clients change careers in the same way I have.

Anna Berkolec

Anna Berkolec

HR Manager, ResumeLab

Changing careers often seems like a daunting proposition. You may have already invested time and money in obtaining a degree and building your resume, so why would anyone want to take on the risk of doing it again? 

The good news is that more people are staying put in their chosen fields than ever before. With so many new opportunities available, it’s easier than ever to change your path and find something new. 

Here are some helpful tips to help you make the process as smooth as possible.

Map out your future

Before you start applying for jobs, you’ll want to map out your future. Decide what exactly you want to do, then make a plan to get there. This might include networking with people in your current field, taking online courses, and preparing your resume. 

Before you get too far ahead, it’s important to remember that only a small percentage of people change careers every year. While you might think you’re uniquely suited to be an accountant one day, you’ll likely be happy doing something else. 

Consider the time and money that you’ll need to make this shift. If you’re unsure if you have what it takes, keep in mind that it can take years to make a full-time income from a new field. 

The earlier you start planning, the fewer obstacles you’ll encounter, and the smoother your transition will be.

Networking is key

It’s often easy to forget about the people you know if you focus solely on finding a new job. This is why networking with professionals in your industry is so important. 

If you know people who are currently working in that field, you can reach out to them. This could be through LinkedIn or another networking platform. 

Related: How to Network on LinkedIn

You might also want to reach out to people you’ve worked with in past jobs. If you can connect with people at conferences or career fairs, you can make an even deeper impact. 

These events are a great way to make contacts that you can continue to keep in touch with as you transition. When you start getting out there, you’ll find that you have more opportunities than you think.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

While it can feel like you’re entering a new world, you’re not alone. Reach out to people you know in the career field you’re interested in and see if they can help you out. This might range from finding information to offering advice as you navigate the application process. 

It’s easy to feel unsure when making this big a change, but it’s important to remember that these people have been there before. They might be able to offer advice on which jobs to apply to and what you should be looking for in them.

Find a job fair or conference where you can meet people in that industry

Even if the career fair specifically targets people looking to make a change, there may be someone there who can give you a few pointers. 

Networking is a key part of changing careers, so find ways to connect with people in your field and get your name out there. If you can find events focusing on people in your industry, you can meet new people and make connections that will help you down the line.

Be flexible and ready to change your mind

Nothing is set in stone when it comes to changing careers. You might have a particular idea of what you want to do in your next job, but your interests might change as you get older and gain more experience in your current field. 

It’s essential to be flexible and ready to change your mind if you find yourself frustrated. That’s completely normal, especially if you’ve been applying for a certain job for a while. 

It’s important to remember that it can take time to find the right fit. Even if you’re unsure what you want to do, you’ll figure it out with time.

Find some information on the field and the people who work in it

When researching potential career paths, don’t just look at the job titles. Find some information on the field and the people who work in it. This will help you better understand what it’s like to work in that field and what you may like and dislike about it. 

It’s best to look at the positives and negatives so you can make an informed decision based on your preferences.

Super Julie Braun

Super Julie Braun

Founder and CEO, Super Purposes™

On Apple TV, a show called “Severance” depicts a Sci-Fi world; the characters have a chip inserted into their brains. This chip makes them forget everything about their personal life when they go to work and vice versa. 

Once they enter the workplace, they have no memory of their families, friendships, hobbies, or personal life. And once they walk out of the building, they don’t remember what they did at work. 

Unfortunately, this show has become a sad metaphor for people’s disconnect between their personal and professional lives.

Having coached many people on changing careers, particularly during the COVID pandemic, many parents told us they had no idea how much their children needed them. 

Working from home gave them insight into how much separation they had from their families and that they were missing passion and love in their personal, professional, or both aspects of their lives. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way! People don’t have to settle for an uninspired job. That is why changing careers is our soul’s wake-up call.

There are three ways to change careers:

  1. Internships
  2. Education
  3. Both

Career changers will sometimes stall because they get trapped in the endless loop of the lack of experience vortex. “I can’t get a job because I don’t have experience, and I can’t get experience because I don’t have the job!” when changing their careers.  

Most career coaches will discuss education; we will focus on an internship’s power.

Get a title you are proud of

The idea is to get a manageable internship to gain experience and new skills. Ideally, the internship would also include a wow title, so the stigma of the title “Intern” doesn’t follow the career changer into their future interviews. 

Unfortunately, American employers generally do not seem to respect Interns the way they would appreciate, say, someone with a “Marketing Specialist” or “Social Media Marketer” title. 

Of course, both people could do the same work and have the same skills but associating with an Intern title has stalled more than one career.  

Employers care about experience first, education second

Have you ever heard of the story about a person who was on a deserted island and needed surgery fast? Three people flew in to perform the surgery, but the patient could only hire one of them. 

Whom would they hire? The person with no experience but who had read every book on the surgery and watched lots of tutorials? Or would they hire someone with zero education but who had performed the surgery successfully on 100 people previously? 

Usually, when asking this question, most people say, “the person with experience.” Oh yeah, and the third candidate? They have both experience and education. We precisely demonstrated what most employers think about hiring someone for a position.

Other benefits of an internship

The experience an internship gives you will help build your LinkedIn Profile, which will attract hiring managers and recruiters. Internships will provide a taste of the real-world experience. 

Related: Do Internships Count as Work Experience?

They also allow you to network with others and help you develop relationships for future opportunities. An internship that you hate will also help you avoid decades of working in a career that isn’t compatible with your happiness. 

When changing careers, ensure you have a heart-head alignment and know that the job you are moving towards fills you with meaning and purpose.

Bill Neill

Bill Neill

Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, Carex Consulting Group

Brainstorm – Explore – Do

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American holds about 12.5 jobs over their working career. If you are seeking a career or job change, have hope that you are not alone. 

In fact, the median job tenure is just 4.3 years. Gone are the days of lifelong employment through a single corporate entity.


The worst thing you can do is make a change only to discover that you’re worse off than when you started. 

Make lists of what you love and hate about your current role and industry. Things like, I love solving quantitative problems or I hate interacting directly with customers in stressful situations could make the list. 

Once you have a clear picture of your preferences, you can start to brainstorm what industries and roles you’d like to target.

However, Harvard Business Review says the number one reason people leave their job is that they don’t like their boss. If this is you, look for a similar role on a different team or with a competitor company. 

Changing your career because of a single bad manager is like selling your car because it got a flat tire. But if you are indeed ready to move on, get ready to explore!


You know what gets you excited to go to work in the morning. You even have a rough idea of what you’d like your next job to look like. Now it’s time to put those assumptions to the test.

A networking conversation can be the quickest way to find out what a career is really like—take advantage of simple things like that. 

Invite your cousin to a virtual coffee and “pick their brain” about what life in the accounting department is like. Perhaps your next-door neighbor is a software salesperson; have her give you the real story about the job. 

These types of low-stakes conversations can easily lead to tangible next steps. “Could I shadow you for a day?” or “could you introduce me to anyone else in your industry.”

Also, make sure you check sites like Glassdoor and other leading career resources to ensure your target career pays what you can afford. Changing jobs often means taking a step down the ladder in terms of seniority and compensation.


You’ve found your dream career, and now you need to make a concrete action plan to get there. Consider options like additional schooling, volunteer opportunities, or even paid freelancing as the first step on your new path. 

During your exploration phase, you started building a network of contacts; now, it’s time to put them to use. 

Ask questions like:

  • What would you do if you were me and wanted to pursue a career in nursing?
  • What firms in your space are known for molding fresh faces into seasoned professionals?” 

Every path is different, but the odds are that people doing the job you want can tell you how to get there.

Melissa Erdman

Melissa Erdman

Chief Operating Officer and Head of Client Success, Executive Resume Writers

Changing careers can be a daunting process. Before transitioning to a new field, ask yourself a series of forward-thinking questions. 

  • What’s good for you and your family in the long term? 
  • Where do you want to be in your career five years from now? 
  • Is this move a step in the right direction? 
  • Whom do you want to work for? 
  • What would your new role look like? 
  • Why are you ready to move now? 

An honest analysis of these questions can prepare you for the next steps in your career journey.

Create and define a personal brand

If, after assessing these questions, you decide to move forward, the next step is creating a personal brand that will enable you to transition to a new field. 

Start by defining your personal brand now. 

  • How do people describe you? 
  • What adjectives and action verbs come to mind? 
  • What expertise do people say you bring to the table? 
  • What accomplishments do they talk about when asked about you?

Take 45 minutes to call three people who have worked with you and ask them one simple question:

Q: “If someone asked you to describe me from a professional perspective, what would you say?”

Review the comments you receive with an open mind and consider the responses from the point of view of a hiring manager. 

Identify traits or achievements that distinguish you from others in similar positions. And consider constructive feedback that you can use to refine and improve your presentation. 

Then, formulate a branding proposition that foregrounds these traits.

Optimize your resume; leverage it to illustrate your true worth

Finally, create a marketing package that fully describes your expertise and work history. This will necessarily include a résumé, a critical tool that can be used to demonstrate your value and personal brand. 

Let go of the notion that your résumé is simply a list of your previous jobs. Instead, it should be a career success story about your growth and achievements as a strategic leader. 

It should effectively explain to prospective employers how you will help grow their business by showing them what you have already accomplished. 

Take time to reflect on the contents of your résumé and how to leverage it to illustrate your true worth. Find relevant achievements to your new field and foreground them while eliminating those that pertain only to your current role. 

By optimizing your application for a new position and presenting a personal brand that highlights your strengths and experience, you’ll be able to transition to the career of your dreams effectively.

Agata Szczepanek

Agata Szczepanek

Community Manager, Resume Now

Diversify your skill set

Varying your skill set — including hard and soft skills — is a great chance to increase your value in the labor market. Most companies view multiple skill sets as something positive. 

It indirectly indicates that you are eager to learnflexible, and adaptable to different circumstances. Consequently, you become a more attractive candidate for a potential employer. And career switch comes easier.

Get rid of old beliefs and habits

Change is a development boost, but it’s only possible when you are ready to: 

  • Open your mind
  • Become flexible
  • Replace old with new

Of course, it doesn’t mean you need to “bury down” all you believe in. The crucial thing is not to let your “old habits die hard,” basically—new career, new game rules.

Keep working on adaptability

Adapting to changing circumstances, environments, and work processes is crucial at every career stage. Thanks to this highly valued skill, you are: 

  • Willing to learn new things
  • Eager to take on challenges
  • Likely to remain calm in surprising situations

The process of changing careers can be full of those.

Related: 40+ Examples of Adaptability in the Workplace

The more flexible you are, the greater the chances you will treat constant change as something inevitable yet natural and adjust to it easily. 

What’s also important, adaptability goes hand in hand with possessing such soft skills as problem-solving, interpersonal, and communication skills. Consequently, by developing the ability to adapt, you automatically develop other precious skills.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and discover what you really want

Try different things. Stay open, act boldly, and experiment. 

The more you experience, the more aware you become of what inspires you, attracts your attention, and simply makes you feel happy. 

It applies to work life as well. Join different courses, and get new skills. By getting involved in various activities, you meet people from all walks of life and industries, broadening your horizons and your contact network. You never know when it can pay off.

Isabela Calil

Isabela Calil

Higher Education Consultant, TEG London

Look at the resources already available to you and how they can benefit you

An actionable tip to help you change your career is to look at the resources already available to you and discover how they can benefit you. 

These resources are the people in your network, such as past colleagues, friends, and family members, who might be able to help you find a career best suited for you. Friends and family tend to know you best and might be able to provide you with tips and advice that you might have otherwise not considered. 

An outside perspective is helpful in these types of situations, as a career change is a big step, and you want to ensure you are choosing the right one.

It sometimes helps to get an outside opinion from those you are not necessarily close with. Professionals from similar networks and businesses might be able to help you get a better idea of what types of positions would suit you, depending on your expertise.

You can usually find these people through platforms like LinkedIn and other social networking apps, as they provide you with access to business professionals. 

Getting to know what types of careers there are and the fact that you can instantly message leaders with the click of a button puts you in a good position to get to know what careers are available to you.

Other resources could include opportunities to volunteer in the field you’re interested in. This can not only give you a good idea of what’s out there but provide you with more expertise and skills in that area, making you a more qualified candidate should you choose to go down that path.

Lorwai Tan, PhD

Lorwai Tan

Medical Research Scientist

Are you considering a career change? If so, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of American workers switch careers at some point in their lives. 

Making a career change can be both exciting and daunting, but it’s doable with the right advice and planning while you are still in your current job. 

When is it time to change careers? 

Some factors could make a mid-career person contemplate a career change. The pandemic has led dozens of professionals to realize their jobs are not fulfilling, and need new opportunities to stay motivated and engaged. 

Those who want growth can feel boxed into a little space stifling their creativity. Some people may have difficulty maintaining the work-home balance in their current roles. 

The mass resignation movement grew when employees realized working from home was an option. Fortunately for job-seeking people, the transition process may be easier than first thought. 

When is the right time for a career change? 

People change careers for a multitude of reasons. Lack of job satisfaction may be one reason, or maybe you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have a business idea you want to pursue. Or the long commute to and from the office is starting to wear you down.

The desire for a career change may be motivated by the prospect of having more flexible hours and a better work-life balance. 

A fulfilling career should enhance your confidence and your self-worth without provoking doubt. It should make you feel like you’re contributing to something larger than yourself. 

You should be challenged and engaged by your work, but not to the point of feeling overwhelmed or stressed all the time. When you dread going to work every day, it may be time for a change. 

Related: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

Enduring toxic workplace environments can grind us down and affect our health. It is not worth the stress of the money if you think you cannot get another job. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Here are five steps to help make your career transition as smooth as possible. 

Assess your skills and interests to identify careers that would be a good fit for you

It is crucial to take some time to assess your skills and interests. This will help you identify the careers that would be a good fit for you. 

You can do this by taking personality tests and assessments such as: 

  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
  • Looking at job postings
  • Talking to people in various industries

Make an effort to conduct informational interviews as you consider career ideas that help you change career paths. 

Use a career coach. It can be challenging to change careers, especially if you don’t know where to start. A career coach can help turbo charge a career change by providing guidance and support throughout the process.

They can help you assess your skills and interests and identify opportunities in your desired field. They can also provide advice on how to network and negotiate a job offer. Ultimately, a career coach can help you make the transition to your new career as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Upgrade your skillset. You may find transferable skills that dovetail into your new career, but you may also need to learn new skills. Here’s where you have the opportunity to craft new career goals as you pivot into a new industry. 

What is an ideal job for someone who is pursuing a career shift? If so, then why not get yourself into freelance work? For example, if you’ve always wanted to work in the emerging field of artificial intelligence, it would be great to do a web development course first. 

The additional education online or at your local college is a worthwhile investment in time and money. 

These and any boot camps that run intensive courses that you can do in your free time are some ways to earn new qualifications and certifications that you add to your resume together with your job applications. It becomes a stepping stone to making this a permanent profession. 

Research the career you are interested in

Once you have identified a few potential career paths, it is vital to research each of your potential employers. This includes learning about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the education and training required, and the average salary.

You can find this information online, through books or articles, or by talking to someone who currently works in the field. It is also essential to read reviews from current and former employees to get an idea of the job. 

You may find their management style may not gel with how you work; better to know sooner than later! This research will help you decide if the career is a good fit for you and if it is something you are passionate about. 

If you are unsure of what career to pursue, many online quizzes and assessments can help you narrow down your career options.

Network with professionals in your desired field

Networking with professionals in your desired field is a great way to learn more about the industry and get advice on breaking into it. You can attend industry events, join online forums, or reach out to people you know who work in the field. 

Cultivating a professional network is priceless. If you know someone in your desired field, ask if you can buy them coffee or lunch and pick their brain about their job. Most people are happy to chat about their work and advise someone considering a career change.

Increase your network. Start establishing new support networks. 

  • Go to meetups
  • Join online communities
  • Find a mentor in your desired field

Related: How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

When making a career change, it’s crucial to have a strong network of professionals to help support and guide you. If you want to go freelance, it could become your key to a career in your desired field as you’ll have the opportunity to work with various clients.

This will also give you a taste of what it’s like to work in your desired industry and help you determine if it’s the right fit for you. Additionally, many people find their dream job by networking. 

You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities will come your way just by talking to people in your desired field. So get out there and start networking.

Prepare for interviews and apply for jobs 

Once you understand the career you want and have networking connections in place, it is time to start applying for jobs. Make sure you prepare for interviews by studying the company’s website and rehearsing common interview questions.

Tips for performing your best in interviews:

  • Arrive on time and dress appropriately; breathe and relax—try to stay calm.
  • Anticipate common interview questions and prepare responses. 
  • Listen to the question carefully and answer honestly.
  • Be enthusiastic about your interest in the company and position. 
  • Research the company beforehand and have questions ready to ask your interviewer.
  • Bring copies of your resume; avoid reading directly from it.
  • Be aware of your body language. Sit up straight and make eye contact.
  • After the interview, follow up with a thank you note within 24 hours.

Related: How to Nail a Job Interview

Build your personal brand; don’t be shy to promote yourself and your skill set

In today’s job market, it is not enough to simply be qualified for a position. With so many candidates vying for the same jobs, you must make sure you stand out from the rest.

Your brand combines your values, strengths, passions, and skills, setting you apart from others and making you attractive to employers. In other words, it is what makes you unique and how you present yourself to the world.

If you are launching your own business, don’t be shy to promote yourself and your unique skill set. This requires strong self-esteem, and you are putting yourself out there (in the marketplace). 

Decide what you want to be known for. 

  • What are your skills, strengths, and passions? 
  • What can you offer potential clients that others can’t? 

Once you know what you want to be known for, start sharing this information with others.

Related: How to Answer “What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can’t?”

Develop a personal brand statement. This short sentence or phrase sums up what you do and how you do it. For example, “I’m a freelance writer who helps businesses create compelling content.” 

Create a portfolio or website. This is where you showcase your work and skills. Make sure your portfolio is easy to navigate and provides enough information for potential clients to get a good idea of what you can do. 

Stay up-to-date with trends and changes in your industry. Keeping tabs on the latest news and trends will help you stay ahead of the competition and provide valuable insights to potential clients.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook

HR Director, Mullen and Mullen

Determine whether you’re ready to take on more challenges or take a step back

Planning your next career move depends on what your next goals are. Always remember that career progression doesn’t always mean heading into higher responsibilities, greater pay, and more time at work. 

For many people, it may involve stepping back and decreasing the pressure on themselves. 

Determine first which among the two you’re doing:

  • Are you ready to take in more challenges? 
  • Or are you trying to step back and enjoy your life more? 

Deciding on that will greatly help you gain clarity as to what your next step should be.

If you want to shift careers in a completely different industry, my suggestion is to identify which of the skills you have acquired are transferable to the new career you’re planning to take up. 

Once you do that, you will know which areas you need to upskill or reskill in. Find ways to get relevant training in these areas. You can take advantage of: 

  • Online courses
  • Certifications
  • Other micro-learning opportunities

This will help you get the skills and qualifications you need for your newly chosen career without stepping back into school.

Lee Cristina Beaser, CPRW

Lee Cristina Beaser

Career Coach and Founder, The Career Counter

Take time to reflect and be mindful about the next career move you make

The key to making a successful career transition is to reflect. The most common mistake I see as a career coach is job seekers jumping from job to job without taking time to figure out the following:

  • Why you disliked your last several jobs?
  • What work tasks do you like, and which task do you prefer not to do as often?
  • What are your top work values (i.e., steady income, flexible schedule, creativity, etc.)
  • What are your top strengths (and how much do you want to use them in a job)?
  • What are your core personality traits, and how does that play into your career? For example, if you’re more introverted and you get your energy by working on projects alone, will you be okay long-term in a job requiring you to interact with people constantly?
  • What are you passionate about, and how do you want that to play into your career?

Taking time to reflect on the items listed above will allow you to be mindful about the next career move you make. The last thing you want to do is quit a job you hate and start yet another job you hate equally or even more.

Samantha Brandon

Samantha Brandon

Clinical Pharmacist turned Founder and Online Entrepreneur

Have an honest conversation with yourself

For those of you looking to make a career switch, first off, let me say it’s completely natural to have a bit of hesitation. 

You’ve likely invested much time or money into getting to where you are today with your current career. You may ask yourself if you are ready to start from ground zero and work your way up in experience. There may also be other important questions like job security and income amid a looming recession. 

I understand because I was there too when I made the switch from a clinical pharmacist (a doctorate taking nine years of post-high school education) to five years later making the switch to an online entrepreneur. 

Now that I’m nearly a year in, here are some tips I can offer for those looking to make the switch as well. 

Is the grass always greener? The first thing is to have an honest conversation with yourself. Find the root cause of why you are not happy with your current career. 

  • Is it because you’re not challenged or have grown bored with the work? 
  • Or is it just the company is not fostering a positive work environment? 

Be sure that it’s the actual career you’re no longer in love with before you make the switch. 

Get your financial affairs in order

Often, a major career switch may mean starting fresh and possibly taking a dip in your salary. But if that equates to a happier life and better mental health, it’s often worth it. 

But make sure you’re financial affairs are in order. If you’re taking a pay cut, do a hard budget check and ensure you are okay with a temporary lifestyle change. Or have savings that can bridge you until the next pay increase. 

Go in humble—your greatest skill is to “know that you don’t know”

If you’ve already had a full career under your belt, then you’ve likely gained some valuable skills and experiences. However, don’t let yourself be a “know it all” on the first day. 

Be humble and happy that there is a lot to learn when switching careers. Don’t jump to making adjustments or improvements. Wait until you’ve had time to fully embrace your new role first. And remember, you never know what you don’t know. 

You do you—listen to comments but internally dismiss them

At the end of the day, people have lots of opinions. Your family and friends may feel like you’re throwing a great career away to pursue a passion. 

Maybe they make comments about you being selfish instead of supporting your family. The rest are likely just jealous that they don’t have the courage to take the jump. Whatever the comments, listen but internally dismiss them. 

You spend most of your waking hours at work over your entire life, so you better enjoy what you do.

Lindsay White

Lindsay White

 Founder and CEO, The White Label Creative

Always lead with your values

In my program, I meet many people looking to change their careers, but often they don’t know where to start or where to turn. My advice is always to lead with your values. 

Before making a change, take a look inward and see what you actually value out of your career. Often, we are just looking at the dollar amount and benefits, but when we do this, we usually land in a spot that isn’t fulfilling or sustainable for the other areas of our life. 

So what does leading with your values mean, and how do you do it? 

Determine your non-monetary goals

This may include the maximum amount of hours you want to work per week. 

  • Do you want to work part-time or full-time? 
  • Do you like to work the standard 9-5? Or would you prefer to work on your own terms? 
  • Do you like repetitive work or changing things up regularly? 
  • Do you want to spend more of your time at work? Or at home with your family? 

These are all things to consider when making a career change to help you determine where to go. 

Brain dump all your skills and interests

Take a look at all the skills you already have; pull deep here. Consider going through every job you had in the past and listing out your tasks and responsibilities at each one. 

List out all of the skills you would like to learn and be able to do. And list out any skills your past employers, clients, or peers have asked you to do. 

Align your values with those skills

Now it is time to align your values with those skills. Figure out what your next move or pivot is by aligning these two things so that you can make a career decision that works for you today and will continue to work for you for many years to come. Longevity is the goal here. 

Kimberley Tyler-Smith

Kimberley Tyler-Smith

Head of Marketing, Resume Worded

Be flexible and open-minded about what kind of job you want

If you’re unhappy in your current career, it might be time to consider changing. Changing careers is challenging and frightening, but it is possible. 

Ensure that you have the right mindset for changing careers. You need to be flexible and open-minded about what kind of job you want. 

Don’t waste your time applying for positions that aren’t in your field or aren’t at all what you want out of life because those won’t help you get where you want to go. 

Apply for jobs that are within your skill set but also ones that stretch your skills and push you outside of your comfort zone. Some people like their jobs because they’re easy—but if they’re too easy, they won’t grow as fast or as far as they could have otherwise! 

So don’t be afraid of looking outside at what seems obvious or comfortable.

Research different industries

Once you know what jobs might suit you, it’s time to start researching those industries. The best way to do this is by talking directly with professionals who work in those fields and asking them questions about their day-to-day lives and work environments. 

You can also reach out via social media—most people are happy to share their experiences and expertise.

Consider a strategic move: Move industry or company, but stick to the same role

When looking for open jobs, keep in mind that it’s usually easier and faster to move into your target industry if you can transition over your existing position or skill set. 

For example, if you work in sales but want to move into medical administration, look for a job in medical sales. This will help you build familiarity with the terminology and equipment costs—building a bridge to potential employers as you do so.

Always see if you can move to a position in your target industry doing your current job and then transition over time. It’s easier to move between roles or industries than both at the same time.

The most important thing when looking for a new job is knowing who you are and what you need from an employer or role to feel fulfilled at work each day.

Antoine Boquen

Antoine Boquen

Co-Founder and CEO, Horizons

Be clear on what you want, why you want it, and your qualifications

Now that you know you’re ready to switch careers and are willing to follow your instincts, you should begin your job hunt. But if you apply to any job in your new profession, you may find yourself back where you started, unsatisfied and seeking yet another change. 

Therefore, as you begin your job hunt, you should be clear on what you want, why you want it, and your qualifications, even if this is a whole new industry for you. 

Because without clarity from the very beginning, nearly every subsequent stage will be based on little more than a hunch, which is an exceedingly unstable foundation for navigating a dynamic job hunt. 

Your job hunt should incorporate some type of self-evaluation. It could involve completing a standardized test, keeping a journal, or speaking with people whose opinions and comments you value, such as friends, family members, or a career coach. 

The objective is to attain self-awareness in the form of a career objective. Following that, the subsequent and equally crucial stage is a reality check. Here, you determine whether the selected goal makes sense.

Polly Clover

Polly Clover

Freelance Copywriter and Content Writer

Make a list of your skills and hobbies and keep them in mind when job searching

As a teacher turned freelance writer, I know all about changing careers. I wanted to be a teacher my entire life, finally did it, and quickly discovered it didn’t offer me the dream life I envisioned. I wasn’t happy working 60+ hours per week with a minimal paycheck — imagine that.

When I decided teaching wasn’t right for me, I had no clue what I would do. I felt like I didn’t have any experience, besides teaching, of course.

Because changing careers was my top priority, I knew I had to figure something out. So, I made a list of all the things I was good at with work skills and hobbies in mind:

  • Helping people
  • Writing
  • Planning
  • Reading
  • Traveling

Then started looking at various online job boards. I set aside time every day to search for jobs.

While job searching, with my skill/hobby list in mind, I came across freelance writing. I realized I could do this and continue helping people, use my writing skills, and write about things I loved, like traveling. 

I wasn’t quite ready to completely let go of teaching because it was the only job I’d ever known. So, I started my new career as a writer on the side.

I did both my old and new career at the same time for about two years before I became completely comfortable going into my new career full-time. 

I’ve now been freelance writing full-time for a little more than a year, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Changing careers to fully (well, mostly) enjoy life is always worth it if you ask me!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Career Change, and Why Should I Consider It?

A career change means moving from one profession to another. Here are some reasons why you may consider a career change:

• You’re dissatisfied with your current job or industry and want to find something more fulfilling.
• You’re experiencing a lack of development opportunities or feel stagnant in your current job.
• You’ve discovered a new passion or interest and want to pursue it professionally.
• You want to earn more money or have a better work-life balance.
• You’ve been laid off, or your job is in jeopardy due to changes in your industry.

How Long Does It Take to Change Careers?

The length of time it takes to change careers depends on several factors, such as your education, experience, and the job you want to switch to. Here are some factors you should consider:

• Going back to school or obtaining additional certifications can take anywhere from a few months to a few years.
• Building a new network and gaining experience in your new field can take time and patience.
• Some industries may have more entry-level opportunities than others, which can affect how quickly you make the transition.
• The level of commitment and effort you put into the transition can also affect the timeline.

Depending on individual circumstances, a career change can take a few months to a few years.

How Can I Leverage My Previous Work Experience for a New Career?

Your previous work experience can be beneficial when transitioning to a new career. Here are some ways you can use your previous work experience:

• Identify transferable skills that you can apply to your new career. These may include project management, communication, problem-solving, or leadership skills.

• Use specific examples from your past work experience to demonstrate how to use your skills and experience in your new job.

• Look for ways to apply your past experience in a new industry or field. For example, if you have experience in sales, perhaps you can work in sales in another industry.

• Be willing to start in an entry-level position and work your way up. Your past experience can help you stand out from the competition and accelerate your career advancement in your new field.

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