How to change career: Here’s what you need to know

Article by Lee Biggins, Founder and CEO of CV-Library.

woman going through a career changeDeciding to change career can feel a little scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of your age, or experience, it’s possible to make the switch seamlessly and without disruption.  

Staying in one industry might work for some; but if you think a change of direction would improve your happiness at work, then what’s stopping you?

It can be difficult to figure out if a career change is what you need. But that’s why we’re here to help. Read on for some useful advice that should help you understand if switching career is right for you.  

Do you really want to change career?

We all have good and bad periods. It’s part of life. The pandemic has really brought feelings to the forefront and made some people question their lives and intentions. Therefore, you should make sure it’s a actually a career change that you want and you don’t just need a break or some time to adjust whilst the pandemic continues to affect us all.

Also ask yourself: would you enjoy your current career if a couple of things changed? If so, it’s worth trying to work these out with your manager, before heading into a completely new industry.

Remember, this isn’t just a job change, it’s a completely new career. If you’re happy with your current path, but not your actual role, maybe a job change would be simpler and more effective.  

However, if you’re absolutely sure that a change of direction is what you need, keep reading.

What do you want from your new career?

If you want to change career, it’s vital that you start a job that makes you happy. As such, it’s important to figure out exactly what you want from your new role, before you begin your search.  

For example, are you hoping to utilise different skills? Do you want to work in a different environment? Or do you want a career that allows more flexible working hours, or homeworking?

Whatever it is that you’re looking for, identifying these desires will help you figure out the right career for you. However, don’t forget to consider the negatives of any new career paths too. After all, nothing is 100% positive, and you need to be realistic about what you’re signing up for.

Can you afford a career change?

We’re not saying you should stay in a role you hate just to get by; but there are some important realities to consider before you change career.  

Starting in a new industry will often involve going back to square one again. This could mean taking an entry level role with a salary that’s much lower than what you’re used to earning.

So, before you make the switch, make sure you can earn enough to support yourself, and your family, if you have one. However, it might be that you need to cut your expenses to make it work. As such, try to figure out how much money you need every month, and go from there.

How’s your professional network?

One of your greatest assets when changing careers is your professional network. Your contacts might be able to point you in the direction of a new role or by recommending you for relevant jobs.

Try speaking to your family, friends, and ex-colleagues. You’ll never know who has the perfect opportunity for you to change career until you ask.

If you don’t have many professional contacts, consider attending regular networking events. This will give you the chance to meet professionals from other trades; and will give you valuable insight into different industries. While this might be a small change, it could set you up for success in the long run.

Do you need any training?

Starting a new career path is likely to involve learning new skills. These might be tricks of the trade, or more formal qualifications.

If it’s a formal qualification you need, try looking for a part-time college or university course. You can often complete these in the evenings, allowing you to keep your current job while you work towards your qualification.

Alternatively, you could sign up to an online course. You can find a variety of programmes across a number of industries including, accountancy, bookkeeping and IT. However, if you aren’t sure where to start, why not take a look at the courses CV-Library has to offer.

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Could you use your current skills?

When you change career, you might have more of the skills that are necessary for the role than you think. So, before signing up to a host of new courses, try to identify any transferable skills that you already have.

Applying skills from your current job will make the transition to your new career path much easier; but that’s not all. If you can prove your level of experience to a new employer, you’re less likely to be thrown into an entry level position. This could mean that you avoid taking a pay cut when you make the switch.

What will your new career path be like?

Remember, changing career is a big step. To make sure it’s the right one, it might be worth trying to shadow someone in your new industry before you make the change.  

Start by reaching out to your newfound professional contacts. Do any of them work in the field you want to move into? If not, do they know someone who does? If you’re lucky, you might be able to find someone who is happy to let you shadow them for a day or two.

Even if you don’t know anybody who works in the field, you could still reach out to local organisations. See if you can follow someone for half a day, a full day, or longer. Explain who you are, why you want to change career and what you aim to accomplish in the long run.

Our guide to cold-contact cover letters might help you with this process. However, you must make sure to tweak your letter so that it’s applicable.

How are your job-hunting skills?

If you’ve been doing the same job for a long time, the chances are that your job-hunting skills are a little rusty. Make sure your CV is up-to-date; learn how to write a cover letter; and brush up on interview techniques.  

You’ll be up against plenty of other candidates, so you need to stand out. If you follow these steps and use your experience to your advantage, then there’s nothing to hold you back. So, what are you waiting for? Get applying and change career now.  

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