How to Make a Career Change

It is not uncommon to have a moment or two in your life where you decide you want to change your career path. Doing so in a successful way requires some very thoughtful planning and self-exploration.

Do you know why you feel the desire to make this change? You may have been hating your current job for a while now. Perhaps there is not much more room for growth. Or maybe there is something specific within the job or career that just doesn’t suit you. People can often times fall into a trap of repeatedly working the same job that they dislike. Taking some time to really sit down and evaluate your needs, wants and goals will allow you to move in a different direction or focus a bit more on what you are seeking from life.

Also be sure to have something lined up before making a drastic decision. In all of your frustration it may seem like the best idea to just free yourself. But be aware this could cause difficulty in the future. It may not be easy to find a job right away which would leave you in financial distress. Burning bridges with past employers is not always a great decision, especially while in job interviews and the references in your professional job history becomes limited.

Once you have gotten a better idea of why you want to go forward on a different path you will need to discern what exactly you want to do. Do you want to go down an entirely different road? Can you transfer some of the skills you have into a new position? Is there somewhere else within your field that you can apply your other skills? Forbes Magazine advises, “You need to know what is important to the hiring managers in this new field, and what skills and experience are required. Then you need to figure out if you’ve got what it takes.” Maybe you will need to continue your education/training, which will require another step and some more time before shifting yourself into another career. Depending on how much of a step you want to take this could mean going back to school. This usually means more financial investing into your future and this is a big commitment; put a lot of extra thought into returning to school before potentially putting yourself into debt.

Eventually you will be able to formulate a plan, something more tangible that can be molded and formed as you go along. Project some plans and break your goal down into major milestones. It might also help to set some smaller goals planned along the way, which will definitely help anyone that deals with anxiety.

Tweak your resume and portfolio to reflect the change you are making in your life. It’s important to present yourself in a way that caters to what you want. If you were in financial planning but you have decided to shift your career into web development, your resume and portfolio should reflect the work you have done within the tech community.

It’s also important to start networking more within the focus of your desired field. Meet the right people and learn more about what you need to do and where you need to be to achieve what you want.  

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the companies and organizations you will be seeking out. “Take the time to learn about the companies, the decision makers, and the industry. What issues or problems are most pressing for these companies or industries? Do you possess skills, knowledge, and/or experience to offer possible solutions?” says Teri Hockett, chief executive of women-focused career management website What’s For Work?.

There are a number of mistakes that can be made when making a career change that should definitely be avoided. One of the most important of them: don’t solely chase money in your career endeavors. The pleasure of making money will last for a while but ultimately you may end up becoming bored of your job just to repeat the cycle all over again. Think very carefully and remember to continue self-evaluation throughout the process, even after you get your new job.

Also, keep in mind that this is not going to happen overnight, within a couple months or possibly within the next year. Depending on how much you want to shift your path there are a lot of facets and careful planning required to change your life. Even thought there are many factors to consider, sometimes a career path might be exactly what you need to live a happier and more satisfied life. Just think carefully, take your time and choose wisely.

Melissa Hindle