Although it is a tired cliché: change is good, especially if you find yourself feeling stagnant and unhappy in your career. Changing careers can help you renew your passion for work, make you a more accomplished professional and open new paths for you to achieve success.
The problem many professionals are often faced with is that changing careers can be quite challenging as it requires a lot of preparation and careful planning. To help you make your career switch, we’ve compiled our career change advice into a handy list of steps you'll need to change your career successfully.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Situation
The best piece of career change advice anyone can give you is to make sure that this is what you want. As most of us feel frustrated with work, at one point or another, due to either our workload or workplace, many people think that the problem lies with their career choice. But more often than not all you need is to find new challenges in your current career.
To determine whether switching careers really is the right course of action for you consider starting a work journal where you can list everything you love and hate at work. Review this after a few weeks and you’ll be able to determine whether the problem is a lack of passion for your career or your current position.
Step 2: Find a New Career
The second step is to identify a new career. Many professionals have a plan B, or at least know what they’d rather do, but that’s not everyone and if you find yourself uncertain of the direction you need to go then make sure to utilise all of the tools at your disposal.
Aptitude tests are a great place to start as they examine your interests and personality traits to generate professions that are not only akin to your passions but also your abilities.
A little internal review can’t hurt either so start assessing your passions and interests on your own. What have you always enjoyed doing? What tasks in your current job do you find enjoyable and what do you find boring?
Step 3: Make the Most of Your Transferable Skills
You need to ascertain any transferable skills you might possess. Transferable skills are the skills that you have gained either from your academic background or from your current work that can be utilised to support your career switch.
List any duties and responsibilities, as well as requirements you’ll be expected to possess in your new role and then list all of your current skills and competencies. See which of these cross over and which you can spin to fit your new role.
Undergoing this process is important because it can take you from having a completely irrelevant background to having skills that can get you hired.
Step 4: Continue Your Education
Inevitably, there will be a few (or more) skills which you won’t possess because you probably were not trained for your new role. To minimise the list you should consider taking a few courses to boost your skill set.
There’s also the option of going back to university to pursue either an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree, but that can be too expensive for most people and it’s also important to keep your current job until you find a new role.
Distance learning can be your new best friend. Many universities offer online courses these days that allow you to increase your knowledge and completely change your career.
Step 5: Get Some Relevant Work Experience
One of the biggest problems people have with successfully changing careers is that employers are reluctant to hire someone without some background in a relevant role. To get around this problem you need to think of alternatives that will allow you to gain relevant work experience while keeping your current job and salary.
If you can, consider setting up a website and doing some freelance work. Many people will be reluctant to hire you, but it really comes down to how professional looking your website is and how you sell yourself.
Another alternative is to volunteer for a not-for-profit organisation as most employers see volunteer work as useful work experience. Make sure that you apply to a credible organisation and that you take on duties that are relevant to your desired role.
Step 6: Network
An important step in successfully changing careers is to connect with the right people. Networking remains one of the most valuable tools as it can help professionals meet their goals and form professional relationships.
It’s always a good idea to network in person so consider attending seminars and conferences that will not only help you gain knowledge about your new career but also help you meet people that can help you get a job.
Employee referrals, for example, are utilised by many companies as they help companies hire better quality candidates, so it’s a good idea to connect with people that can offer you these kind opportunities. Also, keep in mind that people inside the industry might have more info on companies that are hiring and which of those companies are more likely to hire someone from a different background.
Step 7: Hire a Career Coach
It never hurts to hire a professional to help you with a career switch. In fact, a career coach can take you from being overwhelmed to making the switch more manageable and successful.
If you are considering this option then make sure that you hire someone who’s accredited and w has experience in helping professionals change careers. This is especially important if you’re targeting a role that’s completely different to what you’ve been doing up to now.
Step 8: Find Companies Where You’d Like to Work
Just like any other job search, you need to make your career change as specific and targeted as possible to increase your prospects. You’ll need to identify specific companies you’d like to work for and list any particular attributes or characteristics that they value.
Find companies that value creativity and are not too hung up on experience and academic achievements. Look for businesses that are in need of candidates who are passionate and driven. These organisations are far more likely to hire people from a different background.
Step 9: Write Your CV
A big part of your ability to change careers will depend on your CV which is what makes it such a crucial part of the career changing process. As you are not a traditional applicant, your CV does not need to follow the usual chronological.
Consider starting with the most relevant skills, while adding a personal statement will go a long way in helping answer questions that the hiring manager might have. It will also shift focus from the fact that you come from a different background and highlight your skills and passion.
Step 10: Prepare for the Job Interview
The last step in the changing careers process is to prepare for job interviews. As you will be asked about your unrelated background make sure that you can answer industry-specific interview questions. Your best bet is to be honest and explain why you wanted to find opportunities in this new field. Make sure that you don’t shift the focus from each particular opportunity as you want them to know that you are interested in them and are not just desperate to get a job.
It is never an easy process, but that does not mean that it’s impossible; thousands of people decide to pursue their passions every year because they realise that being happy at work can have a seriously positive effect on their home life as well.
Have you managed to change your career? Let us know in the comment section below.
This article was originally published in July 2016.