How to succeed when changing careers

People choose to change careers for several reasons. Maybe you’re unhappy in your current career, desire to have more flexibility in your schedule, want to make more money, or would like to pursue a career that brings more purpose and fulfillment to your life. Regardless of why, when making a career change, you want to evaluate your current situation, your skills and abilities, your career goals and aspirations, and your career options, to name a few important factors for consideration.

Why people change careers

As mentioned, people change jobs for a variety of reasons. Research by Joblist focused on midlife career crises shows that people often change careers due to the following factors:

  • Long hours – 20%
  • Boredom – 22%
  • No longer passionate about the field – 23%
  • Wanted a new challenge – 25%
  • Desired better work-life balance – 37%
  • Current job is too stressful – 39%
  • Wanted better pay – 47%

Benefits of a career change

According to the same research, people improved their well-being overall when changing careers due to feeling:

  • Less stressed – 65%
  • More fulfilled – 69%
  • More satisfied – 75%
  • Happier – 77%

It’s also important to note that these results increased further based on the time that had passed since the career change. Additionally, individuals earning more due to the career change consistently ranked being happier, more fulfilled, and more satisfied than those earning less after a career change. When individuals chose to switch careers for higher pay, they earned $10,812 more per year on average than at their previous job.

11 tips: how to succeed when changing careers

Making a career change successfully is possible with the right forethought and planning. Here are some steps to consider for a successful career change:

1. Ponder your current job satisfaction and challenges. Take some time to consider what you do and do not like about your current job and career path. This will allow you to identify what type of work environments and positions you might enjoy and want to avoid moving forward. Additionally, when considering the challenges in your current position, is there anything you can do to make them more bearable or tolerable until you’re ready to make a career move?

2. Assess your values, interests, abilities, and skill set. Consider you’re current and past work experiences and identify what you’ve enjoyed most and why. What skills and abilities do you enjoy applying? Which are transferable to other careers? Answers to such questions will help you identify the types of careers that might be of most interest to you.

3. Consider alternative career opportunities. What career opportunities are you interested in? What career options align with your interests, skills, and abilities? As you conduct your research, start a list of possible career options to consider.

4. Research available jobs. Once you’ve identified a possible career path to switch to, you can begin researching available jobs. What’s currently available, and what skills and abilities are required?

5. Upskill. Once you’re clear as to what career path you’d like to pursue, identify skill gaps and ways to acquire those skills. There are numerous free online courses you can take, for example, to gain expertise and certification.

6. Shadow others. Shadowing others will allow you to observe the career you’re considering. You’ll learn more about the position, including why it may or may not be the right career path for you.

7. Consider short-term or volunteer opportunities. Depending on the career you’d like to switch to, it might be possible to identify short-term opportunities, like part-time gigs and freelance work, to determine if you’d really enjoy that career path. Volunteer work can provide a similar opportunity.

8. Reach out to and expand your network. As you identify the types of jobs you’re interested in, reach out to your network to let them know your interests, so they can refer you when appropriate. Your network can also put you in touch with individuals that hold the jobs or careers you’re interested in, so you can continue your research and ask questions of others. It’s also a good idea to expand your network by reaching out to professionals in organizations where you’ve identified potential jobs to inquire further.

9. Check availability for a new job in your industry. Are there alternative career paths in your current industry? If so, you might have an easier time landing a new job and transitioning your current skill set to the new job because you already possess industry knowledge for the job, so do some research and see what’s out there.

10. Work with a career coach or advisor. Making a career change can be a daunting task for many. Working with a career coach from the moment you consider a career change can guide you in identifying the right career, opportunities available, and how to land those opportunities with the proper messaging and marketing materials.

11. Create career change marketing materials – including your resume and cover letter. Once you’ve identified your new career path, it’s time to develop a resume and cover letter that support it. Incorporate as many transferable skills as possible into your resume with relevant action verbs. Include in your cover letter and resume your desire to transition careers, as well. In your cover letter, this is straightforward and easy to do. For your resume, a line in your summary or objective statement can speak to your desire to change careers. Your LinkedIn profile should also be updated accordingly to reflect your career goals, so recruiters and hiring managers know what you’re seeking in a new position and career.

A career change can be worth it

Making a career change takes work and effort, though it tends to be worth it once you’re clear it’s the best move for you. If you don’t make the move, and in your heart feel you should, you might come to regret it and dislike your current career even more. Use the tips and insights provided here to help you design your new career path for success and happiness.