Planning for a career change can mean the difference between success and failure. Finding a job that fulfills you is the ultimate goal, but you have to do the work to figure out where you want to go. With a clear plan of action, you’ll be able to determine whether you require a simple change of scenery or a complete career overhaul.
Career changes are common in today’s job market. Fifty-three percent of American workers are unhappy with their current job. Are you tired of an overbearing boss or gossiping coworkers? Is your industry struggling in the face of changing technologies? It’s essential to find whether you’re ready for a new job or a new direction.
If it’s time to make a career change, follow these seven steps to determine your next move and find a fulfilling career.
Step 1: Write down your “whys.”
Think about why you’re looking to change careers. Reflect on where you’ve been in your career – the time and training that brought you to where you are, the experiences you’ve had. What do you love about your job? What do you hate about it? Evaluate what’s worked and what hasn’t.
Try to answer what the ideal job looks like for you. If you’re annoyed with coworkers or struggling to make a better salary, finding a different position or new company may be a more straightforward answer rather than a complete career change. You can easily alter daily responsibilities and office environments with a new job or a department shuffle.
Step 2: Assess your strengths and passions.
What tasks have you enjoyed over the course of your career? What would you love to be doing in the future? Understanding where your true passions lie can help guide you in the right direction. If you have difficulty discovering what careers might work for you, talk with a career coach. Discuss your ideas with family, friends, and colleagues for additional feedback. Online career assessments are a great way to learn what other professions might be of interest.
Step 3: Explore your options.
Allow yourself to dream big and consider all career possibilities. Build a list of ideas that are of interest. Outline all of your job considerations, creating a robust list of pros and cons for each option, including salary requirements, location, flexibility, benefits. Narrow your choices down to five options.
Step 4: Pick a career and set clear goals.
Review your career short list and set both short and long-term goals for moving ahead. What kind of education and training will you need for each option? Are there other cities and regions with better prospects than your current location? Before you begin applying for positions, you’ll want to make sure you have all the information you need to succeed.
Step 5: Expand your network.
Now that you’ve decided on a new direction, reach out to your contacts, attend networking events, and immerse yourself in the communities relevant to your new role. Try to build a report with experts already thriving in your chosen industry. Informational interviews can be helpful during a career transition, creating connections to potential employers, and providing insight into day-to-day activities and responsibilities.
Step 6: Try it out.
Along with informational interviews, a new job “trial run” can offer a further understanding of a new career path. You can gain valuable experience by volunteering for a similar role in a local non-profit organization. Explore a new job by shadowing a trusted mentor. Connect with recruiters to discuss the current job market and available opportunities in your area.
Step 7: Update your professional brand.
Once you’re ready to begin the job search, have your professional brand polished and ready. Revise your resume to reflect your career change and be prepared to explain the hows and whys of your professional pivot. Customize your career change cover letter to highlight your skills and experience relevant to the new role. Begin connecting with employers in your intended field. Add new skills and experiences to your LinkedIn profile.
When you’ve completed these steps, prepare to leap! With a career change action plan in place, you’ve done the homework that it takes to succeed in your new career.