How To Make a Career Change

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 22, 2022 | Published March 20, 2020

Updated July 22, 2022

Published March 20, 2020

Related: How To Change Careers Strategically

Jenn, a career coach at Indeed, presents tips for strategically planning and executing a successful career change even without prior industry experience.

Whether you're looking to completely change careers and work in another industry, or just take a different role within your own company, the idea of making a career change can be exciting. By approaching a career change incrementally, you can also make the transition in a way that's easier for you and your family.

In this article, we discuss some of the common signs that you're ready for a career change and 10 steps you can take to make it happen.

Related: 10 Best Jobs for a Career Change

Signs it's time to change careers

Look for these signs that indicate it may be time to take a chance on a new career:

  • You're ready for a new challenge. You may feel like you're not learning anymore and would like to take on different responsibilities.

  • You're interested in your friends' jobs. Your friends and family members have jobs that seem more interesting than your current position.

  • You need a confidence boost. Your current manager and coworkers don't give you the recognition you deserve for your hard work and dedication.

  • Your job is impacting your health. If your work-life balance isn't what you want it to be, you may need to change careers.

  • You want a higher pay ceiling. You have reached the highest salary possible on your current career path and want to earn more.

Related: Writing a Career Change Cover Letter

How to make a career change

Here are some steps you can take if you decide that you're ready for a career change:

1. Evaluate your skills and interests

Once you've decided you need a career change, start by evaluating your skills, values, interests and personality. Many jobs require core skills like organization, communication and collaboration. Identify the skills you've learned in your past roles that can transfer to other positions. You may even want to speak with a career counselor who can help you determine which alternative careers you are most qualified for and which best fit your experience and interests.

Read more: 10 Top Job Skills for Any Industry: Transferable Skills You Need

2. Create a list of occupations

Create a list of five to 10 appealing occupations that you qualify for based on your skills and experience and that you think would be interesting to explore. If you took any career self-assessments, make note of the recommended careers based on the results of those tests.

3. Research jobs from your list

Evaluate the job descriptions, skills and educational requirements for each of the roles on your list. You may also want to consider the job outlook and the earning potential for these positions. Narrow down your list to jobs that still interest you.

Related: Resignation Letter Due to a Career Change: Tips and Examples

4. Determine what requirements you need

Determine what skills, education, training, certification or licensing you may need to qualify for the roles on your list. In some cases, you may be able to qualify by taking a course. In other cases, a career may require more extensive education, such as earning a new bachelor's or master's degree.

Based on this information, evaluate the resources that you'll need to make the career change possible. Beyond educational expenses, you should also consider other costs and trade-offs, such as childcare expenses and potential commute time.

5. Create an action plan

Once you've identified the career that is most feasible based on your time, resources and current skills, you need to create an action plan for how you're going to get that position. Write down the end goal, the timeline in which you want to achieve it and milestones you need to accomplish as you pursue the goal. For example, if you want to be a registered nurse, determine how much time you need for school and licensing requirements.

Also, make note of any potential obstacles you could encounter so that you can have a plan for overcoming them. For example, if your target career could potentially involve relocation, make a plan for the best way to move. Being prepared for challenges helps you stay focused on your objective.

Related: Midlife Career Change: What to Do Next

6. Track your progress

As you learn new skills and earn the right certifications, make sure you measure your progress. Set reminders on your calendar to finish certain tasks, and celebrate each time you reach a new milestone. Tracking your progress helps you stay motivated as you make your career change.

7. Shift your online brand

In order to change careers, you need to shift your brand online so that it's more appealing to potential employers. Review job descriptions for your desired profession and make a list of the keywords that employers use when they describe the ideal candidate. Identify all of the skills you have from past roles and update your job-related social media profiles and website so that they highlight those skills.

8. Update your resume

Use the list of keywords you compiled to update your resume. You may also want to change the format you're using for your resume. While chronological resumes are the most common format, functional or combination resumes are often more ideal for career changes since they emphasize your skills and accomplishments.

Related: Combination Resume Tips and Examples

9. Use your connections

As you're working on obtaining the qualifications you need for the role you want, start talking to people in your personal and professional network who might know someone in that role or industry. Chances are that a family member or friend will know someone who may be able to answer questions about the position you want or even recommend you when you're ready to start applying.

10. Send cold emails

When you know what company you want to work for and have obtained the necessary qualifications, consider reaching out to employees who work there. A well-researched cold email can be a great way to start a new relationship. You may even want to ask for an informational interview so you can learn more about the position you desire. The more people you connect with, the more likely it is that you'll gain a referral for any openings in the future.

Related: How to Change Industries or Careers With No Experience

In this video, Jenn, a certified career coach, shares advice for making a career change including the best way to address it on a job application.


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