Do you want to make a career change but have no idea how to begin? If so, you’re definitely not alone, especially in today’s ever-evolving job market.
A career change can be scary if you don’t have a clear idea of where you want to go—and how to make it happen. That’s why we created a 7-step plan to help you take stock of your desires and skills, and then take the necessary action to successfully start a brand new career. So, with some soul-searching, and some hard work, you can be well on your way to pursuing your dream job.
Consider these steps when the time comes for a career change:
1. Assess your likes and dislikes
It’s time to ask yourself some important questions before you try to make a career change. What do you like about your field? Where is your current job lacking? Make a list that outlines all of the pros and cons. Once that’s in front of you, it’s time to think about what your personal passions are. For example, is having a career that involves helping others important? Or are you passionate about numbers and accounting? Take some time to really pinpoint what matters to you.
2. Research new careers
Although it’s great to follow your passions, you also have to be realistic. Get Googling and make a list that includes careers that are related to your interests, but are also feasible. A great online resource to take advantage of is the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There, you can search for different jobs and get a breakdown of salary and job outlook; duties and responsibilities; required education; and the work environment. Once you have your list of possibilities, anticipate what obstacles you may encounter and create a plan for overcoming them.
3. Evaluate your skills
Now it’s time to take a hard look your skill set. Figure out which of your skills are transferable to your new career, and where are you lacking. For example, if you’re looking to make a career change from sales into healthcare, some of the skills that you may be able to transfer include: good communication skills; grace under pressure; customer service know-how; and attention to detail. The specifics will depend on your experience and the field you want to enter. It may be difficult, but be honest about what you’re working with.
4. Get the required training or education
So you’ve determined where you’re lacking in the skills department—now it’s time to fill in the gap. That means figuring out whether earning a degree—whether it’s an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s—will provide you with the education you need to pursue the career you want. In some cases, you may just need to take some courses or get certified to meet the job requirements. The point is to attain the education you need to appeal to potential employers.
5. Start networking
Never underestimate the power of a referral to get you in the door. That’ why it’s extremely important to network with people in the field or industry that you’re looking to enter. Let your friends, family, and former co-workers know that you’re looking and see if they have any relevant contacts. Get out there and start attending networking events in your desired industry. Also take advantage of LinkedIn by connecting with companies you’d like to work for, and joining professional groups in your intended field.
6. Find a mentor
Find a mentor can be a great way to get real advice on how to enter a new industry. Since you’re already networking at this point, it’s a matter of reaching out to the appropriate person and asking for guidance. You may be surprised to find how many people enjoy sharing their experience and knowledge with someone who’s eager to learn. And your mentor may be able to introduce you to other contacts and opportunities in the future.
7. Begin your job search
You’ve done your research, built up your credentials, and become a networking master. Now it’s time to actively start looking for work, with an updated resume that reflects your skills. An important thing to remember is that when you’re changing jobs, there’s a very high likelihood that you’re going to have to start at entry-level and work your way up. That means that you may have to take a pay cut—or even relocate to get the job you want. Although you may have to make some sacrifices, having the chance to do what you love may can make it all worthwhile in the end.
Having the guts to put yourself on the line and pursue a new career path is admirable. You’re going to have to bank on the process being potentially stressful, but that stress is often necessary to pursue a career that leaves you more satisfied and fulfilled. One of the most important steps in this process is attaining the skills and training you need to meet the requirements for your new career.