Finding a New Career Path: 8 Steps You Can Take (With Tips)

Updated March 16, 2023

A smiling person sits at a conference room table.

When you have a career you enjoy, it's often easy to stay motivated and to feel rewarded for your work. If this doesn’t describe you, however, it may be necessary to find a career that does improve your jobs satisfaction, as well as ensures you’re genuinely interested in what you do.

In this article, we share some of the common reasons why someone may seek out a new career, explain the steps you can take to transition to a new career smoothly and offer tips for figuring out where you want to go with your job.

Related: How To Choose the Career Path That's Right for You

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Why do people opt for a new career?

There are many reasons people may change careers. This table lists five common reasons someone may consider a career change:

Lack of career satisfaction

New interests

Desire for more flexibility

Perceived salary limitations

Dissatisfaction with management

Whether their responsibilities no longer challenge them, they reach the limit on job advancement or they no longer enjoy their workplace, several factors may contribute to the desire to find a new career.

Some people start one career path only to realize later that they're interested in something else. For example, a technical support specialist who becomes interested in coding.

Pursuing a new career in a different field may provide opportunities like flexible work hours or remote work capabilities.

Exploring other career options may reveal one that has greater potential for increases, more opportunities for bonuses or higher base salaries that better meet personal needs and expectations.

Being unhappy with a direct manager, upper management at the entire organization or another superior may be a strong motivation to find an organization that better meets personal preferences and professional needs.

Read more: 15 Reasons You May Want To Change Jobs

How to find a new career

Changing careers is a significant decision, and it's important to choose a new career that supports your professional growth, uses your skills and provides a sense of accomplishment. Here are steps to follow to help you find a new career:

1. Evaluate your skill set

Brainstorm a list of skills you have, and include a combination of ones you may use professionally and personally. For example, you may include marketing, a skill in your professional life, and drawing, which may be a skill relevant to one of your hobbies. Consider ranking what skills are your greatest strength to help you identify what potential new career may be a good option for you.

Be sure to list hard and soft skills, especially those you think may transfer well to a new career. Hard skills are abilities specific to a particular job or industry, such as computer programming languages or bookkeeping. Soft skills, however, are your natural abilities and skills that relate to who you are more than a specific job. Some examples may include communication, creativity, problem-solving and emotional intelligence.

Related: Transferable Skills: 10 Skills That Work Across Industries

2. Think about your interests

Consider your personal and professional interests, and see if you can find corresponding careers. For example, if you like figuring out how parts and machines work, you could pursue a career as a mechanic or engineer. This may help you find a career that feels more rewarding.

Related: 7 Things To Do When You Can't Decide on a Career

3. Discover your personality type

An infograpic showing the four determiners of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator personality questionnaire: extraversion vs. introversion; sensing vs. intuition; thinking vs. feeling; and judging vs. perceiving.

Learn what type of personality you have to explore what types of jobs you may succeed in and enjoy. Taking a test may be useful for helping you understand your own personality.

For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular assessment that categorizes you into one of its 16 personality types. Identifying your personality type may help you learn which jobs may be a good idea for you, such as pursuing a career in sales and marketing if you're mostly an extrovert.

Read more: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: 16 Personality Types in the Workplace

4. Determine your ideal salary

Establish your earning goals for your salary, and factor in how much your living expenses require you to earn each month. This helps provide guidance about what careers may be good for you based on their average salary ranges and caps and potential for bonus or commission earnings. As you get further into your search, it may be useful to consider what benefits are important for you to have in your career, such as medical coverage or a flexible workweek.

Related: How To Find Your Career Purpose in 5 Steps: A Guide

5. Research requirements

Review the requirements to pursue the new career, and compare them with your existing qualifications and experience. For example, making a career switch to nursing without any prior experience or education requires attending school to earn a nursing degree first. Learning about the requirements for the potential new career path may help determine if you believe the additional training is worthwhile and what typical timeline you might expect.

6. Consider your strengths

Think about your previous work experience and areas of success, and consider how this may help you succeed in a different career. It may also be helpful to think about your strengths outside of your professional life, and you may also benefit from asking friends, family members or coworkers about your strengths. This may help you identify which potential careers align with your previous experience and qualifications.

Related: 10 Key Strengths To Develop for Career Advancement

7. Establish your ideal work environment

Determine your ideal situation for work, and think about your preferences for your work environment and schedule. For example, consider whether you may prefer to work in an office with others or if you enjoy working remotely more.

If you enjoy working in an office, it may be helpful to think about if you prefer a quiet, more separated office structure or if you work well in an open office environment. It's also crucial to consider if you enjoy a structured workweek with standard business hours or if working varied hours or nights and weekends is better for you.

Read more: 5 Types of Work Environments (And How To Find the One for You)

8. Leverage your network

Talk to people in your network about how you're considering changing careers. Ask them about their own experiences, especially if they changed careers from one industry to an entirely new one. Your network may also be helpful in connecting you with people who work in your new desired industry.

Related: 11 Useful Pieces of Advice for Choosing the Right Career

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Tips for finding a new career

Consider these tips to help you find a new career:

  • Take career quizzes: Career quizzes may help identify your strengths, inventory your skills and suggest potential jobs. It may also be useful to take quizzes that help you understand your personality, working habits and leadership style.

  • Attend networking events: Networking is essential for making professional connections. Continue networking within your existing industry, but consider attending events in industries you're considering pursuing to learn about what it's really like to work in these fields.

  • Be kind to yourself: A career change is a significant decision, and it may feel overwhelming to explore your options. It's essential to give yourself grace as you research new jobs and potentially apply for positions in new industries.

  • Request informational interviews: Informational interviews may be helpful in learning about professionals in certain careers. Start by looking for people in your network to ask, prepare a list of questions, and welcome hearing about all aspects of the career path.

  • Consider professional development courses: Training courses may be helpful in helping you improve old skills or build new ones related to your desired job. Look for opportunities on online platforms that may provide flexible options that work within your schedule.

  • Explore internal opportunities: There may be internal opportunities for a different career if you're happy with your current employer but hope to try a different job. Consider asking your manager or the human resources department about opportunities to collaborate with other departments or possibly complete a job shadow.

  • Talk to a recruiter: Recruiters and career coaches may be helpful resources for understanding your current skill set and identifying potential opportunities. These professionals also often have a wealth of connections in many industries to help you find your new career.

  • Update your resume: It's important to customize your resume for each job you apply for, so it's crucial to revise it for an entirely new industry. Research example resumes for your desired industry, and look for ways to translate your current experiences into similar experiences in it.

Related: 15 Tips To Try if No Career Interests You

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