How to change careers: A step-by-step guide

Changing careers can be a pretty big task. You may need to go back to school, take a pay cut, or start over at the bottom of the career ladder.

But, changing careers can also be good for you, both professionally and personally. If you’re ready to learn how to change careers, this step-by-step guide can help you make the change and find professional fulfillment.

How to change careers

Step 1: Figure Out Why You Want to Change Careers

Everyone can have a rough day that makes you want to quit your job and even your career. But, before you start figuring out how to change careers, ask yourself why you really want to change careers. Is it because you’re bored in your current job? Have you outgrown your position? Perhaps you’re an older worker who has been in the same field for decades and is looking for something entirely new.

Understanding the motivation for your career change can help you determine if what you really want is a break, a new job in the same field, or a complete career change.

Step 2: Consider your passions

For many people, a career change often coincides with the desire to work in a job that fuels their passion. So, before you work on how to change careers, figure out what excites you. You can factor in what you’ve already done in order to know how marketable your skills are, but you also need to look for roles that will resonate with you. Then, try to tie in what you’ve already done (and are good at) with what will make your heart happy.

Step 3: Go exploring

Some people might already know which career field is calling their name. For others, it might be that you want something different but are unsure of what that might be.

If you’re not sure what career you want to have (but know you want a career change), consider meeting with a mentor or career coach. They can assess your strengths and weaknesses and help guide you toward a new career based on your professional experience and what you’re passionate about.

Step 4: Review your skills

Once you’ve figured out why you want to change careers and have determined that it’s the right path, give your current skills and experiences a once-over.

First, evaluate what your transferable skills are—the ones you can bring from your old career to your new career. Then, see which of your current skills you can use in your new field. If you’re not sure what those skills might be, check out some job postings to see what employers are looking for. Those specific responsibilities can offer you a glimpse into what potential employers want and help you honestly assess if you have transferable skills that you can utilize in your new field.

Step 5: Do some recon

Before you dive in and start submitting your job applications, take some time to assess what the overall industry looks like. Is your new career field experiencing a hiring boom or a bust? Is there a clear career path or room for advancement?

While you won’t have all of the answers right away, gaining insight into what you can expect can help shape your career intentions and expedite your job search.

Step 6: Set Up informational interviews

A good way to get a feel for a new career before actually committing to it is by securing some informational interviews. Start by looking at companies you’d like to work for and see if you can meet with the hiring manager or another manager. Then, ask questions regarding what they look for in a potential employee and what you would need to work in the industry. This way, you’ll gain some insight into what your career change would require and what it would be like working in your new field.

Step 7: Go back to school

Although you might have some transferable skills that you can use in your new career, chances are you’re still going to need some additional certifications or education to be successful in your field. If you’re still working in your current job or are already in the midst of a new job search geared toward your new career, start by taking a class or online course that can help prepare you for your new career. It can give your career change the start it needs while also helping you decide if this industry is really for you or not.

Step 8: Do a trial run

Just because you’re looking for a full-time job in your new field doesn’t mean that you have to agree to one right out of the gate. If you’re concerned about whether or not the career change will be right for you, try it out first without a 40-hour weekly commitment. You might want to freelance, work part-time, or even volunteer so you can test-drive your dream field. Having that real-world experience can confirm (or deny) if you’re making the right career move.

Step 9: Get connected

Sure, you might have tons of contacts in your current industry, but what about contacts in your new career field? Start establishing an online presence that reflects your intended career choice. Make new connections on LinkedIn, and start following industry leaders on social media. That way, you can establish an online presence that is more representative of your future career interests and also help grow your network to find a job faster.

Step 10: Enjoy your career change

The last step? Enjoying your brand new career!

Of course, you’ll need to prep your resume, practice answering career change interview questions, and come up with an action plan, but knowing why you want to change careers and identifying what you need to do to change careers successfully is a great place to start.

This article was originally published on FlexJobs.