The thought of changing careers can bring a whirlwind of emotions.
Fear, excitement, guilt, uncertainty, thrill. All of it.
While it’s not uncommon for people to grow a desire to change careers at some point, it can be difficult to figure out where or how you would even begin this process.
In order to make your new desire a reality, it’s important to begin taking steps that will help you transition into your next career.
Although some of the suggestions offered here may seem small or insignificant, don’t underestimate their power in helping you make one of the biggest leaps in your life.
Table of Contents
Take a personal inventory
Considering a career change is an important decision.
By taking a personal inventory of your skills, interests, qualifications, and experience, you’ll be much better equipped to decide which direction to go.
Analyzing your values and strengths is a good way to get in alignment with your goals and desires.
When I first started thinking about my own career change, I had to ask myself several questions, such as “What is most important to me?”, “What are my core values?”, “What am I really good at?”, and “What do I love doing?”
I didn’t stop there.
I also thought long and hard about why I was seeking a new career. What was it about my current job that made me feel unsatisfied?
From there, I was able to start identifying some key details that helped clarify my next steps.
As I do whenever I am contemplating anything, I kept all of this internal dialogue in a journal – something I highly suggest you do as well.
You don’t know the power of writing in a journal until you start using one.
Evaluate your skills and interests
Most of us can identify the areas where we excel, thrive, or typically do well. We may also have hidden strengths, however, that require a little more pondering and reflection.
As I began to evaluate my own set of skills and interests (and learned how to believe in myself), I knew right away the areas I excelled in, including working well with others, creative writing, and attention to detail.
I was also clear about my interests. I was looking for something that offered flexibility (including the ability to work fully remote), creativity, good pay, purpose, etc.
If you’re one of those who tends to shy away from acknowledging your skills and talents, this may be a bit of a challenge.
Luckily, there’s help. You can find dozens of online resources, governmental and otherwise, that will allow you to answer several questions – all designed to help you identify your greatest strengths.
These kinds of tools can confirm your perceptions and even identify strengths you weren’t previously aware of. They can also make suggestions for the types of careers that you are best suited for according to your results.
Research various career fields
Once you’ve done the hard work of identifying your strengths and weaknesses, interests, desires, and goals, you can begin to research career fields that align with all of these things.
Depending on what you came up with in your journaling activity as well as your skills assessment, you can enter simple keywords such as “careers that offer flexibility, great benefits, and room for growth” to find potential matches.
This may take some time and refining, but you will generate more and more useful content as you move along. It’s also likely that you will gain inspiration from some of your search results.
Maybe you already know the job field you would like to enter. If so, great! It can still be a good idea to research it further.
Learn from those with experience in that industry so you can get as familiar as possible with the ins and outs of that career. The more you know, the better.
The last thing you want to do is make a career switch only to be dismayed by what that job really entails. Take the time to do a little digging.
You’ll be glad you did.
Network with people in the field you’re interested in
If you are clear about the career you would like to switch over to, you’ll want to find some people who are already there.
While your online research may have led you to some helpful insights and information, there is no substitute for personal connection. Want to start an architecture firm some day? Tap the minds of local architects to get the inside scoop on the profession well before you sign up for your first class.
Networking is a great way to achieve this. No matter where you work or live, there are sure to be opportunities for getting together with other professionals in your area.
Places like Meetup and your local Chamber of Commerce can be great starting points for connecting with people who have similar goals and interests.
When it comes to meeting new people and building relationships, a helpful thought to remember is you are always one person, one meeting, and one moment away from a new opportunity.
There is also great value in supporting others in their work, which further helps to deepen these relationships.
Once you’ve established yourself within your networks, you will find that you have a built in system of support, guidance, referral, and much more, all of which can serve you as you transition into your next career.
Test the waters
If you have a good idea of where you would like to start your next career, and you want to have a smooth transition, an internship may be a great way to achieve this.
While internships can be paid positions, that’s not always the case. The benefits, however, can be invaluable.
As an intern, you get to test the qualities and skills you have, as well as gain work related experience which may not have been possible otherwise. Especially if you are choosing an entirely different career than what you currently have – jumping from a non-tech related career to IT, for instance.
An internship could also enable promising networking opportunities and may even lead to longer-term roles or employment once the placement has finished.
By embedding yourself in a specific work environment, you will have a much better understanding of what it’s like to be part of a team within that industry.
Consider educational resources and develop new skills
There are countless educational resources to tap into in order to learn more about career choices.
The internet has opened the door to a treasure trove of information on different roles, industries and career paths.
From online courses and webinars to industry magazines and field-specific books, you can access the information you need to educate yourself on any career.
Personally, I read dozens of books and blogs, signed up for paid courses, and learned more about my ideal career from watching YouTube videos and listening to podcasts by those in the same industry.
I learned a ton.
Not only that, but I was so inspired by all of my new learning, which gave me the momentum and encouragement I desperately needed to keep pressing forward.
Now that I am in my new career, I realize how useful platforms like LinkedIn are for connecting with and learning from other professionals.
The opportunities for learning are endless.
Rebranding yourself is an important step when choosing a new career.
Creating a professional online presence is one way to do this. As I transitioned in my career, I carefully evaluated all of my social media accounts as well as my website to ensure consistency and clarity across all platforms.
You’ll want to be sure that any sites you are using for your new business and/or brand clearly reflect your new career in a clean and professional manner.
While not necessary, you may also consider hiring a professional photographer in order to have a few high quality photos on hand.
Professional looking photos can be very helpful in establishing your reputation as a professional within your industry and will help you stand out.
Since people love stories and crave connection with other people, photos are a powerful and effective way to connect with your audience through storytelling.
Your photos can be shared on your website, social media, and any other material where you can use your creativity to market yourself as an authority in your new career.
Make an action plan
At this point, you’ve done all the things you need to explore and engage with your new career from a distance.
You’ve gotten clear on your skills and interests.
You’ve done research to learn more about your new career by utilizing the people and resources available to you and you’ve looked at ways to rebrand yourself.
Now it’s time to decide a plan of action that will help you make the jump into your next career.
And to be honest, it’s a simple plan. Not easy, but definitely simple.
Assuming you’ve mapped out important details such as your financial security and benefits (and maybe given yourself some extra cushion with an easy entry-level job change), for example, your next step is simply making it happen.
Applying, interviewing, and moving into your new career.
Throughout the process, it’s important to stay mindful of all the lessons learned along the way.
Although many will miss it, the true joy is in the journey. Lean into the process of figuring it all out and discover just how strong and capable you actually are.