How to change your career in 8 steps

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If you’re no longer satisfied with your current job role and can’t seem to get yourself out of the funk, it might be time to reconsider your career route entirely. Perhaps your priorities in life have changed, or you’ve discovered new interests that could potentially be transformed into a career path. Whatever the reason, and no matter your age, you can successfully make a career change with a little time, motivation and determination.

Why do people change careers?

According to Joblist, 37% of people change careers for a better work-life balance – which is totally understandable. Heading out of University, it can be vital to get as much experience under your belt as possible – often working overtime whenever is needed. But as we get older and grow our families, the need for a work-life balance becomes more prominent.

Other reasons people change careers relate to getting better pay (47%), less stress (39%), or even just fancy a new challenge (25%). And while it might seem scary to start completely afresh, Joblist also found that over two-thirds of those who changed careers were happier (77%), more fulfilled (69%), and less stressed (65%). Sounds tempting to us!

What are the best second career choices?

There are several careers that are a little more suited to a career change than others. For example, heading back to medical school to become a doctor in later life can be a huge move, which will change your lifestyle dramatically for several years. It’ll also be a huge financial commitment. But, becoming a nurse is much more suited to a second career as qualifications can be completed within a shorter period, and can often be studied alongside nursing work.

According to the Houston Chronicle, these are the most popular second careers:

  • Animal Health Care
  • Non-Profit Program Managers
  • Nursing
  • Teaching

But there are plenty of other options available!

How to change your career

Whether you already have a career in mind or just know you fancy a change, the first step is making sure you do your research and understand your motives.

  1. Why are you no longer satisfied with your current role?

There is a whole range of reasons as to why you might not be enjoying your current role. More often than not, it’s a toxic workplace that causes us to feel less than enthusiastic about heading to the office.

Before jumping the gun and quitting, make a note of the things that are actually causing you to feel regularly unfulfilled at work. Are they related to the job? Is it the heavy commute? Are the people causing you stress?

If they’re not related to the actual work, you might find job satisfaction in a different company. Similarly, if the traffic or morning commute is leaving you feeling drained and overwhelmed by the time you get to the office, maybe it’s time to look for a similar role a bit closer to home.

  1. Interests, values, and skills

So, you’ve figured out it’s the job itself that is the problem. Now what?

The next step is to assess what your interests are, where your values lie and how your current skills can fit alongside these. Have you taken part in volunteer work in the past that you really enjoyed? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Is a flexible schedule important to you?

If you’re not sure about what career to pursue, there are plenty of career quizzes online that might give you a better idea as to the sorts of jobs you’re suited to.

  1. Consider job roles

Speak to your professional network, friends, or family about your skills and values to see if they have the perfect job idea for you. Friends and family are going to know you well enough to understand what you’re looking for in a job and the skills you have to offer. If you’re still stuck, you could also consult a career counselor for some professional advice.

  1. Check out the marketplace

Now you’ve got a better idea about what career you’d like to pursue; it’s time to see what the requirements are. A quick Google can offer plenty of information about the entry-level requirements for your preferred career, as well as the best companies to work for, average salaries, and what progression routes are on offer.

LinkedIn is a great place to connect with those in your field, and most people will be more than happy to share with you their thoughts on the industry, how they got to where they are and if they’d recommend it to others.

This part of the research should be somewhat exciting. If you’re still finding it hard to feel inspired or engaged, you might need to re-evaluate what it is in your current lifestyle that’s causing your feelings of dissatisfaction or stress.

  1. Test the waters

Before you make any rash decisions, try to find a work shadowing opportunity or volunteer work. This will give you a better idea of the day-to-day work you’ll be expected to complete. Some career changes might require you to re-qualify, which can be costly – so testing the waters before fully committing will help you to understand whether the industry is the right fit for you.

Try to shadow or volunteer for different areas of the same career ladder. It’s likely – unless you have a lot of transferrable skills – that you may have to go back to entry-level when you start your new career. But this isn’t the end goal: Work shadow entry-level staff as well as the higher-up roles that you aspire to.

  1. Upgrade your skills

Whether you take a night class or head back into higher education, there’s no time like the present to get started on upgrading your qualifications or skills. You might find your new career requires a specific degree or a certain number of hours in the workforce to be able to apply. If you already have a degree, click here to see how you can top up your qualifications by studying for a Masters’s on a part-time or full-time course. Part-time courses will take longer to complete but will allow you to continue working at the same time. Better still, you could apply for an entry-level job in your new career to get your foot in the door and study for a higher role at the same time.

  1. Upgrade your CV

This will be the tricky part. How do you get hired for a completely new role when your job history points in a different direction? Well, the good news is it can be done. Thousands of people change their careers throughout their life, without a single item on their CV is relevant.

The trick is to recreate your CV to focus on skills that are transferrable to your new role. The Guardian and other job experts online offer tips on how to upgrade your CV for a career change which will help you write out the perfect resume for your new job.

Another key part of a career change CV is the accompanying cover letter. In your cover letter, you can explain your passion for the field and why you are looking to change your career. This should be adapted to fit each new job role you apply for.

  1. Take the plunge

The final step is to take the plunge: Check the job market in your area and get applying. Don’t be too disheartened if the first few jobs you apply for aren’t successful: Keep applying, and someone will be willing to give you a chance.

If you’ve found you’re not really having any luck, reach out to companies you’d love to work for so that they can keep your CV on record. Similarly, it might be worth applying for a role at a lower pay grade to help get you started.

So, you should now be fully equipped to start your journey to a brand-new career. There’s no time stamp on how long the process should take, so if you find yourself doubting anything, take a moment to consider everything again. You might want to pro and con your new career to understand your full reasons for leaving and how your new job could offer you a better lifestyle.

If you need to head back to school, don’t stress too much about how much it will cost. There are plenty of funding options available that can help space out your payments so that you can focus on your education and getting to where you want to be, rather than having to incorporate a budget into your career change.

Lastly, the most vital part of your process would be to test the waters before you take the plunge. Talking to those in the industry can make a job sound like an absolute dream if you find the right person or a total nightmare with the wrong one. Therefore, finding some work experience, shadowing or volunteer, and freelance work to see how the job works for you is a crucial part of the career change process to help cement whether it’s the right job for you.

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