Career Advice Changing Jobs

5 Steps to Planning Your Career Change

Woman in Blue Suit Jacket Smiling While Working at Her Desk
Written by Amanda Nunez

Are you considering a change from your current career? Many people have moments when they realize that their current career isn’t fulfilling. A career change is a big and oftentimes overwhelming undertaking. You’re hoping to enter an unknown world, maybe even doing your job search in a field that is wildly different from the professional life you’ve known so far.

While making a career change can certainly be daunting, many career changers have been able to make a successful transition with a little planning and effort. Alyssa Gelbard, founder and president of Resume Strategists Inc., offers some tips on how to tackle the challenges that come with switching industries. By following these steps, you’ll increase your chances of making a successful transition into a new and more fulfilling career path.

Determine what you want

Before you start looking for a job posting, it is important to have a conversation with yourself about your expectations. The first step in making any significant change is to reflect and consider what you desire from a new career. Try taking some time to think about what exactly about your current career that isn’t working for you. 

There could be many reasons you may not be unfulfilled at your current job. 

Common Reasons For A Career Change

  • Work-life balance
  • Flexibility 
  • Salary
  • Job stability
  • Desire to go into another field
  • Company culture
  • Work schedule (part-time vs full-time, day job vs night job, etc)

Regardless of your exact reasons, taking the time to figure out what it is you want from your new career prevents you from transitioning into a job you don’t love. Being honest and reflective about your career needs will help you discover better long term job satisfaction.

Do your research

Once you have an idea of what it is you’d like to do, it’s time to start researching.

When you are planning a career change, information is key. For instance, if your career transition involves moving industries or pivoting into a different career role, you need to understand this new career path. For instance, some important questions to consider are:

  • What qualifications or work experience will you need? 
  • What are the job prospects like currently? 
  • Is there room for growth in this field or position? 
  • How much salary can you expect to earn when you transition? 
  • How much salary can you expect to earn after 5 years? 

After asking these questions, try comparing the answers to your career needs and expectations. Will this new career change meet your career needs? This process will help you decide whether or not a particular career is right for you. It will also give you a better understanding of what steps you’ll need to take to make the transition, like creating a safety net or pursuing further education.

Additionally, it is important to get a general understanding of the new jargon and day-to-day of your new position or field. While you might speak the language of your current position, a new career comes with a whole new set of terminology and practices. You’ll learn the ins and outs as soon as you get a job, but before you do, do your research so you sound well-informed and feel confident when you go out on interviews. 

Create a Plan

Once you’ve decided that changing careers is the right move for you, it’s time to start putting together a plan. A career transition can be a long process. With a solid plan, it’ll be easier to make a successful transition into a job you love. When creating your plan, be sure to set realistic but measurable goals and deadlines so that you can evaluate your progress along the way.

When creating your plan, consider the logistics. For example, will you need to go back to school? How will a salary change affect your lifestyle? Are there any risks involved in changing careers? Once you’ve considered all of the potential roadblocks you found during your research, you’ll be in a better position to determine whether or not changing careers is the right choice for you.

Learn how to sell yourself

Once you have a plan, learn how to promote yourself. Afterall, there’s a reason you’re taking this new leap–you feel ready and qualified to work in a new career field.

So before you start networking and going to interviews, make a list of reasons why you want to make the change and why your specific skills are ideal for such a change. This will help you create and maintain a consistent personal brand. The more you discover exactly how your strengths align with a potential new job, the better you can speak to them in your resume, cover letters, and interviews.

Network… and then network some more

If you’re going to make a successful career change, networking is essential. If you’re shy about networking, start small–get the word out by mentioning your hopes of a career change when among friends or family. When you are willing to go further, consider reaching out to people who are already working in your field of interest. To meet potential professional connections, try attending industry events, join relevant professional organizations, and participate in online forums and discussion groups.

Once meeting people in your desired field or position, ask them for a coffee chat or informational interview to learn about their professional experiences—what they like and don’t like about their jobs, what kind of training or education they need, what their day-to-day responsibilities involve.

By networking, you’re not necessarily looking for someone to hand you a job. Networking is about making connections and you never know if someone in your circle might be connected to another person who can give you advice and help.

Make a career change today

Making a career change can be a daunting task, but it’s definitely achievable with some planning and effort. Remember to approach your job search journey with confidence, even when you’re nervous–if you are determined and willing to put in the work, opportunities are sure to arise. Following these five steps will help you make a successful transition into a new and more fulfilling career. 

If you are looking for a job, or considering a career change, TheJobNetwork is here to help. In addition to our expansive job board, our resources and tips will guide you through the process of finding the right opportunity for you. Take the next step in your career with TheJobNetwork.

About the author

Amanda Nunez