career-change

Being stuck in a job that doesn’t allow you to reach your full potential can cause a lot of unwanted stress and uncertainty for many people. We’re here to remind you that you aren’t stuck, and it’s totally possible to switch into a different industry, field or position.

Maybe you’ve lost interest in your current profession, or maybe you’ve discovered a new interest in another field. No matter the reason, deciding to switch careers is life-changing. To be successful at whatever it is you choose to do, you need to make the change the right way.

If you’re considering a career change but don’t know where to start, follow these 12 steps:

1. Discover What You Truly Enjoy

The last thing you want is to go through the process of switching careers just to get into an industry you don’t like.

List your likes, dislikes, values and interests. Identify exactly what it is about your current job that’s making you want to leave — and make sure to avoid career paths that could have the same obstacles.

For some people, this could be the toughest step. Figuring out what you truly enjoy and are passionate about after ignoring it for years isn’t a simple task.

Ask yourself, “What do I get excited about doing?” or “What’s something I spend my free time thinking about or doing?” Choose a career related to your answers to those questions.  

2. List Careers That Satisfy Your Passions

Once you’ve keyed in on some of your passions and interests, search for careers that would encompass those things.

For example, if you spend a lot of your time thinking about or hanging out with your dog, consider a career that has to do with animals.

The important part about this step is keeping your skills in mind, as well. Just because you like dogs doesn’t mean you have the expertise or skills required to be a veterinarian.

However, if your skills include marketing, writing and designing, you could consider working as a marketing specialist for an animal protection agency or dog kennel.

The trick is to combine your skills with your passion to create your ideal position, and go from there.  

3. Research the Careers That Made Your List

Once you’ve come up with your list of dream careers, start researching. The bigger the industry change you’re making, the more research you should do. If you want to make a worthwhile, informed decision, this might be the most important step.

Think about the years of research and education you had before going into your current position — can you imagine how difficult it would’ve been to adjust without all that information?

Set yourself up for success by learning as much as you can before you start applying to jobs.

4. Make the Decision  

You’ve brainstormed your interests, listed careers that relate to them and researched them all — now it’s time to decide.

Making a decision is important because it will frame the way the rest of your career change process goes. You need to pinpoint a specific industry or career you’re trying to break into in order to achieve that goal.

5. Develop an Action Plan

Once you’ve decided on the path you’re going to take next, develop a specific plan with measurable goals, action items and a timeline.

There are probably new skills you need to learn, professionals you should meet and work to wrap up at your current job. You might even have a few personal goals you’d like to work on while making this shift.

Leaping from career to career isn’t a casual move — you don’t want to take it lightly. The more detailed your plan is, the better chance you’ll have at finding your dream job quickly.

6. Adjust Your Personal Brand

When you hand someone your business card or invite them to check out your online portfolio, they should be able to tell which industry you belong to now — not your past field.

This step includes adjusting your resume, cover letter and portfolio as much as possible so potential employers know you’re all in. When you edit your own professional brand to be more related to the new industry, they’ll see your dedication in that aspect.

You can consider creating a functional or skills-based resume using Resumonk. Highlight what transferable skills you have learnt in your previous profession and how they apply to the new industry.

7. Start Networking in Your Desired Field

In any career field, it’s not only about what you know, it’s also about who you know.

Start attending networking events for your industry and meeting as many people as you can. Introduce yourself and say you’re starting to break into the field now.

This is a great opportunity to ask seasoned professionals for their tips or advice on how to get into the industry and be successful — people love talking about themselves, their stories and their success, so they’ll remember you for asking.

8. Update Your Training

As you learn more about your new field, you might discover you need to significantly broaden your horizons.

Start slowly, taking only a course or two at a time. Not only will this be difficult to juggle with your current position, but it’ll also help you confirm you’re truly interested in the field.

If it’s not required to get a job in the field, you might not feel the need to get a new degree or certification for your career switch — that’s OK. Taking a few courses could be enough to give you the jump start you need and catch you up to people who’ve been in the field for years.

9. Find a Mentor

While you’re making this transition, you’re going to be stressed and uncertain at times. A mentor can help keep you on track and remind you of the bigger picture.

They don’t have to be an incredibly successful, rich or powerful person to be an adequate guide for you during this time. However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if they’re experienced in your new industry.

10. Begin the Job Hunt

Recall all those skills you learned about job hunting during your senior year of college. Dig out your cover letter templates, interviewing tips and negotiation strategies.

Remember the importance of researching companies thoroughly before applying, interviewing and especially before accepting a position.

It’s also important to remember that the job hunt is truly a hunt — it’s not going to happen overnight. Try not to think about it too much and trust that the right position for you will come along.

11. Continue Learning About Your New Field

To keep yourself distracted while you wait to hear back from the seemingly endless amount of applications you’ve filled out, keep learning about your new career.

As we mentioned earlier, knowledge is power when it comes to breaking into a new industry. The more you know going into your new job, the less you’ll have to adjust to on that first day.

12. Lose the Ego — You’re Back at Square One

Back to the bottom of the totem pole you go! Don’t be above taking entry-level positions just because you’ve been a working professional for 10 years — or more.

You’re just starting out in this industry, so you’re most likely going to have to start at the bottom, especially if it’s a big switch from your previous position.

Be flexible, eager and willing to begin again.

Your New Career Awaits

Making a career change is not an easy feat. It takes a lot of strength, courage, willpower and determination to pull off. Use this guide to help you along the way, no matter how big of an industry change you’re making.

When the stress creeps up on you, just take a breath and remind yourself that good things come to those who hustle.

p.s. Resumonk helps you create a beautiful résumé & cover letter in minutes. Stand out from the crowd and multiply your chances of landing your dream job.

Published by Sarah Landrum

Millennial career expert Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career and lifestyle blog for millennials seeking career happiness and success.

Subscribe to Sarah's newsletter to get the latest tips and resources to elevate your career and follow her on social media @SarahLandrum