Thinking of changing your career? It seems like a huge step, and there’s no wonder people find it daunting. You’re not the first or the last to think about it, but even so, there’s probably no one who has had the exact set of circumstances you have – nobody who can tell you exactly where to go.
Luckily, the basics apply to everyone. Here we’ve gathered together some of the best tips we could find on how to make your career change a success.
Step one: research
Don’t just rush into it! You need a solid idea of where you’re going, and what you need to do to get there. If you rush in, you could find yourself regretting it more than you ever regretted your original career – and even if you don’t, you could be in for some nasty surprises.
Ask around. Talk to people. Read articles by people who do the job you want. Plan everything out: your next steps, your backup plan, your criteria for success.
Step two: network
In most careers, it helps to know the right people. Ask around for introductions, go to local meetups, go to conferences, join online forums – anything you can do to get in touch with people who have the career you want. They might be able to help you find a job, and even if they can’t, they’re a great source of the exact kind of knowledge you need.
Step three: have a backup plan
Do you have savings? Can you keep working in your current job part time while you get started? Sometimes, things just don’t work out – it’s not the right time, or it turns out that the job isn’t as perfect as you’d thought. You need to be able to recover from any setbacks, and having savings or a job to go back to is an ideal safety net.
Step four: get the training
If there’s specialist training available that you might need at some point in your new career, get it now while you still have your old career to fall back on. If you know you’re going to need to get a new certification or pass a first aid course, or whatever the requirement might be, you can anticipate the need. It’ll make things go smoother later on – and just having the certification is proof that you’re serious about your career change, you’re committed to making it work, and you already have a good idea of what’s needed.
Step five: streamline your résumé
It doesn’t matter how amazing your résumé is, it’s all wrong for your new career. It got you a job in the career path you’re already on, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for the career you want to move into. Show that you’re aware of that by streamlining: omit anything that isn’t directly relevant or highly impressive. Try to include the most recent things, but also consider what they say about you and your ambitions. And don’t forget to spin things: whatever your old job was, some aspect of it probably steered you where you want to go now, or would help you, or just sounds really good. Pick it out. Make yourself look versatile and experienced.
Step six: remember there’s no point of no-return
This isn’t a decision there’s no coming back from. You can decide in a few years that this isn’t right for you either, and make a new choice. You don’t have to be 100% sure that this is for you – you just have to be 100% ready to make it work if you can. If you change your career once, you can change it again, and you’ll even be better prepared for that process.
Step seven: commit yourself
You do need to have a backup plan, but if this is going to work, you do need to be very sure about it and ready to give it your all. Going into it gradually doesn’t mean you’re not committed; that’s just prudence. But you do need to be sure in yourself, and able to convince employers or clients, that you know where you’re going and you like it.
It’s not a one-way system: you can come back if it turns out this isn’t the right way for you to go. But it is a good idea to commit yourself to trying.
Is that it? No, probably not. Changing your career can be a long and difficult process, but these steps make it easier.
The most important thing is not to self-sabotage. If you decide right now that your career change isn’t going to work, then I can almost guarantee it won’t. If you decide right now that you’re going to make it work?
We believe in you.